The Windham Eagle wrestlers will kick off their 2013-14 season on Saturday, December 7 at the Ken Sullivan Memorial York Wrestling Duals at York High School. The eight-team tournament is named after Sullivan, a former assistant coach with the school's wrestling team who was killed in an automobile accident in 2001. Other teams scheduled to participate include Portland, York, Kennebunk, Wells, Gardiner, Lincoln Academy and Morse and is set to start at 9 a.m.
The Eagles will be led this year by new head coach Jason Dryburgh. Dryburgh, a former captain of his high school team in Connecticut, brings eight years experience to the mat with experience in both freestyle and folkstyle wrestling. His previous experience includes multiple tournament wins and a “highest number of pins” award.
When asked about his expectation for the season, Dryburgh said, “My expectation is that there are going to be growing pains, but it’s going to work because I am already seeing the team gel. I’m excited and nervous at the same time, which is to be expected, but I see a lot of promise with these kids.”
Dryburgh has been conditioning the grapplers since mid-November in preparation for the upcoming season. The athletes have been training six days a week with practices lasting two and a half hours each. Following the guidelines set by the Maine Principal’s Association, Dryburgh ensures each athlete undergoes hydration testing to ensure they are properly hydrated. Many wrestlers cut weight to compete in a favorable weight class and these tests not only ensure wrestler safety, but help each athlete perform at an optimal level.
So far, nineteen wrestlers have endured the first two weeks of practice to earn a spot on the team roster. And since Dryburg has more wrestlers than varsity slots, he plans to use a weekly competition for each spot. “It’s just like a normal tournament. If there are four people in the same weight, they will wrestle off for that spot each week. Everybody has an opportunity to compete for the varsity spot. This will bring out the best in each wrestler,” said Dryburg. “In this sport everybody needs to be kept on their toes.”
Included in this year’s roster are returning junior Jake Hodgkins (Heavyweight) who placed third in States in 2012. The team also includes three returning girls: Becky Cassidy, Samantha Frank and Laura McKenna. All will compete against boys in their respective weight divisions.
“Wrestling asks for a specific type of person. It really defines you and is filled with character building moments. At the core, when you wrestle, the sport demands that you are on your toes both literally and figuratively. That is why I push them to take care of both their minds and bodies. They must be strong both physically and mentally. This is fundamental to the sport,” said Dryburgh.
The team will host their first home meet December 11 against Massabesic and will start at 6 p.m.