We hosted the Northern New England Prep Wrestling Tourney this past weekend. What began nearly 30 years ago as an intimate affair for Maine, NH, and Vermont schools has grown to the 4-mat, 16-school, New England-wide day-long event that took place in The Joe on Saturday.
The performance of our team and the hospitality of our community brought to mind the memories and stories that are the stuff of Hyde wrestling lore. Hyde wrestling coach Jeff Kent had this to say about it:
Thanks to you all, we had so many wonderful moments yesterday!!
As the day unfolded, I was reminded of 1994 when we hosted the Class A tournament – in which the school truly lifted the team up so that they could take it to another level. On that day every wrestler placed top 6, all 14 wrestlers placed – the epitome of a team/school effort.
Yesterday felt very similar, and I kept thinking – Maybe?… we could win this thing. While we didn’t quite get there yesterday as we had in 1994, we came close and 9 kids placed top 6.
I am so proud!!
Yeah, “proud” speaks for all of us. Jeff’s dad, legendary Hyde wrestling coach Gary Kent used to talk about “the magic in the walls.” We were all feeling that magic yesterday as our team tied for third place in a very tough field.
There was also some new magic. All of us were wowed by Andover wrestler Marisol Nugent ’20 who won the award for Most Outstanding Wrestler. I can’t remember when women first competed at these events but I do remember some of the controversies surrounding the change. Typical comments at that time included “They should compete in their own separate division.”… “Guys will feel damned if they do (i.e., win) or damned if they don’t (i.e., lose)”… “It just ain’t right.”… and so on.
All I heard and saw on Saturday was admiration and respect for a teenager who has clearly “ate, slept, and drank” wrestling in the truest sense of the sport. I think she pinned all of her opponents. She’s something to watch! Only a sophomore, we haven’t seen the last of her.
While Marisol earned and deserved her accolades, a case for Most Outstanding Wrestler could easily have been made for our own Robert Hetherman ’18 who also emerged as a champion in his weight class, beating his Andover opponent (who was ranked #10 in the country) by a technical fall score of 15-0. (A match is stopped should either wrestler gain a 15-point advantage in score.) Watching him was like watching a “How to” video of tried-and-true wrestling moves.
We also had a champion in David Donnelly ’19 who beat his Exeter opponent in the finals. This post-match pic looks like David is laughing at the Exeter coach, but he’s just happy.
Like Jeff, I was also transported back to that magical 1994 tournament. Back then, I likened our team to The Little Engine That Could. (Back then, I was also tripping over children’s books in my house.) Here’s an excerpt from the February 1994 issue of Malcolm’s Monthly:
Team and school spirit reigned as our Effort Savings Bank paid off with interest. You had to be there to feel the synergy but it was summed up rather well in a conversation overheard between two coaches from two visiting teams during the the later rounds: “Oh #&%@*X (expletive deleted)! My kid’s gotta wrestle one of those Hyde kids in the next round. The way this thing is going, I’d rather wrestle the top seed than a Hyde kid.
Both the 1994 and 2018 teams made me feel proud to be a Hyde teacher. Jeff sums the feeling up well: “Sometimes you just have to stick with it. Hang around long enough, keep trying, make deposits to the old Effort Savings Bank, and eventually something good will come your way.”
Yup. The Effort Savings Bank lives. Congratulations all!
Onward, Malcolm Gauld