Kyle Foyt-Bridges and Eric Coloumbe were classmates and teammates at Monmouth Academy. Both were highly successful on the mat: Coloumbe won two Class C state titles, while Foyt-Bridges was a state championship finalist.

Both are freshman at the University of Southern Maine this season. Coloumbe will take a medical red-shirt after suffering a season-ending knee injury early in the season. Foyt-Bridges, meanwhile, has become a regular part of the Huskies lineup at 184 pounds.

Last weekend, Foyt-Bridges helped his team place fourth at the New England Wrestling Association Dual Meet Championships. It was USM’s highest finish ever at the tournament, according to coach Joe Pistone.

“Kyle has been wrestling great and has started to really adopt the Southern Maine wrestling style and has been extremely receptive to his coaches,” Pistone said. “He’s an absolute pleasure and joy to coach.”

Moving from high school wrestling to college is a big jump for almost all wrestlers. Foyt-Bridges says it took a bit of getting used to.

“Wrestling in college is not at all what I expected,” Foyt-Bridges said. “The level of difficulty is heightened, but I love the challenge. Practices at USM are the real deal. They have gotten me into shape to a point where it is difficult for me to keep weight on.”

USM is the only college in Maine to field a wrestling team. The Huskies are in the middle of the best season in the program’s 14-year history and are on track to set a new season record for dual meet wins. The Huskies are 11-5 with three of the five losses to nationally ranked Division III teams.

Foyt-Bridges is happy to be a part of it.

“I look forward to spending many days training, competing, and smiling with my brothers (the USM team). It’s been one of the greatest opportunities and privileges for me to become a Husky and represent my state.”

• • •

Winslow High School will fall short of coach Kevin Fredette’s goal of improving on last season’s dual meet record, but the Black Raiders appear to be rounding into shape as the end-of-season tournaments approach.

“We have had a rash of illness and injuries,” Fredette said. “That, along with grade problems, have limited what we could accomplish.”

Winslow is 13-15 with just three matches left. The Black Raiders finished 15-12 last season. Losing Johnny Lagasse to a concussion and VJ Tantoco to a broken leg early in the season set Winslow back, Fredette said.

“They were both recently cleared to return on the same day,” Fredette said. “Since then, things have turned around dramatically. With VJ at 182, Johnny at 195, Sean Cote at 220 and Aaron Lint at 285, the upper weights are our strong suit.”

Lint leads the Black Raiders with a 27-7 record this season.

Ryan Mosher (120), Dillon Pelletier (126) and Zak O’Connor (132) are another strength for Winslow, Fredette said.

Winslow moved from Eastern Class B to Western C this season, but Fredette hasn’t seen any change.

“Our schedule is set by the (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference), so we wrestle the same teams that we always have,” Fredette said. “Every class has its strong teams. Our region has Dirigo, Bucksport and a surprisingly good Madison team. When we go to states you throw Foxcroft into the mix.”

The Black Raiders have yet to reach their peak, according to Fredette.

“Each and every person on this team has the ability to be competitive every time they walk on the mat,” Fredette said. “They have progressed well through the season but seem to lack the confidence to compete in matches. If I could somehow get them to wrestle in an actual meet like they do in practice, we would be awesome.”

Fredette is involved with the Winslow wrestling program from top to bottom. At one point he coached youth, middle school and high school, but has found help with the younger wrestlers.

“My brother-in-law coaches the pre-K through second grade and my brother coaches the third to sixth graders,” Fredette said. “My job is coordinating everything. I am still at every practice helping out but coordinating everything that goes along with it is a full-time job. The middle school is another story. As of now I am going to be doing it alone. With no money for an assistant, I am looking for volunteers.”

Fredette feels fortunate to have strong family involvement with wrestling.

“Wrestling in my family is just that, a family affair,” Fredette said. “My dad was on the original wrestling team that Winslow had in 1959. Everyone in my family has been involved, and is still involved, in wrestling. All of my brothers wrestled and my sister was the manager. My mother still goes to all of the home meets and some of the away meets as well as cooking for home meets and the youth tournament. My daughter Marissa is now our team manager. It’s an unbelievable support network.”

• • •

 

Mt. Blue High School puts its 19-0 dual meet record on the line when it travels to Rockport today to face KVAC opponent Camden Hills.

The Windjammers are considered the favorite to win the Class B state championship.

“I put Camden Hills in the top one or two teams overall in Maine,” Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor said.

O’Connor isn’t ready to concede the match just yet, though.

“We go into every meet wanting to win,” O’Connor said. “Camden Hills is very good and we need to wrestle hard and look for bonus points (extra team points for pins, technical falls and major decisions) when we get a chance.”

The return of Nick Hyde at 132 and Drew Blanchette at 138 will help the Cougars.

“They have both missed three weeks of practice due to injury and it will be great to have them back,” O’Connor said.

Although Class A Mt Blue won’t face Camden Hills in regional or state competition, today’s individual match outcomes could play a critical role in seeding for the upcoming KVAC championship tournament. The KVACs will be held at Cony High School on Feb. 4.