CARIBOU — In both numbers and experience, Mike Rogers’ team is growing.
As recently as a month ago, Rogers, the head coach of the Mount Desert Island wrestling team, had a team of just three wrestlers, two of whom had never participated in a competitive meet or tournament. Now, the Trojans are at seven, and the positive results are already coming.
“We’re at the point where some of the matches that were losses two or three weeks ago are either wins now or are very even,” Rogers said. “It’s been a really great progression to see them learn and grow like this.”
The latest of MDI’s 2021-22 successes came at the team’s most recent meet last Wednesday at Caribou High School. The Trojans came away with wins up and down the weight-class lineup to place an impressive fifth in the 12-team tournament.
MDI got second-place efforts from Logan Blanchette at 138 pounds and Evan Davidson at 170 pounds. Blanchette pinned Xavier Newell of Washington Academy at the 2:42 mark of his semifinal bout, and Davidson defeated David Tuttle of Piscataquis via a 7-5 decision for his own semifinal win.
Davidson’s win over Tuttle was his first as a varsity wrestler. Entering last Wednesday, his only varsity wrestling experience had come in the form of two defeats in the Dec. 18 Ryan Detour Memorial Tournament at Bucksport High School.
“That meet was a real wakeup call to him as to what non-practice wrestling is like,” Rogers said. “Over the past week and a half, you could see him working really hard and learning more about how to hold his body. He also has a background in judo, and I think that’s helped him position himself to where he’s competing for wins.”
At 145 pounds, Nick Jacobs began his day with a tough loss as he fell to Fort Kent’s Carter Desjardins in the semifinals. Desjardins forced an overtime period with a two-point nearfall in the dying seconds of regulation before earning a takedown of Jacobs in the extra session.
Jacobs, though, would bounce back from the defeat by winning his ensuing match to claim third place in the weight class. The sophomore defeated Neaven Little in the consolation final as he claimed a pin at the 33-second mark for his second career win.
“Nick is right at the top of that weight class for the conference, which is really gratifying for him to see,” Rogers said. “He works very hard in practice. He doesn’t have quite as many moves as a lot of the other guys do, but he’s been working at executing them at a high level, and that’s really paid off for him.”
Mason Rose took fourth place at 220 pounds with a win over Timothy MacNeil of Piscataquis. Also finishing fourth were Josh Wedge (182 pounds) and Ashton Thomas (285 pounds), the former of whom was wrestling in his first-ever competition.
“This was Josh’s welcome to wrestling culture,” Rogers said. “He had a lot of positive things going for him; he got a lot of takedowns and a lot of good escapes, and that’s stuff to build off. Now, he can go back, look at that tape and improve what he needs to improve on.”
MDI, which was scheduled to compete Wednesday at Washington Academy, will compete at Ellsworth High School at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 8. That will be a chance to continue the developments that have been made throughout the season and that were showcased last week in Aroostook County.
“It was very satisfying after some earlier meets where we had a lot less success,” Rogers said. “In those meets, we’d have kids looking around and wondering when those improvements would start to happen, but it all started to click for us in Caribou.”