WINSLOW — In Japan, Sumo is a wrestling sport that revolves around a strict tradition. In Winslow on Sunday, Sumo was simply a lot of fun.

One of the the biggest draws of the Maine Skirmish grappling tournament, held Sunday at Winslow High School, is the annual youth Sumo competition.

“It’s fun for the kids,” Mike Huard, one of the tournament directors, said. “It’s been a tradition.”

The rules of Sumo wrestling are simple. The winner is the first wrestler who pushes his or her opponent out of the ring, or is the first to force the opponent to touch the ground with any part of the body other than the bottom of the feet.

Sunday’s matches, featuring small Sumo wrestlers ages 6 to 16, rarely lasted more than a few seconds, although the brevity didn’t make them any less fun. One young wrestler grinned, as much as one can grin wearing a big, blue mouthguard, from the second he stepped into the ring right through the time his opponent, Eli Morrill, shoved him out of it.

“It’s just fun,” Morrill, 10, of Rangeley, said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Some of the wrestlers were tenative. Some, like Morrill, attacked their opponents. Morrill won the 10-year old division with a style that was all business. As soon as the referee gave the go signal, Morrill went at his opponents, pushing each of them out of the ring before they had a chance to realize what had happened.

This year was Morrill’s fourth year competing in the Maine Skirmish’s Sumo event, and his third win. Another veteran was 16-year old Benjamin Parks of Fairfield, who won his division by beating Kyle Anderson in the toughest of the finals matches.

“It was a good rematch of last year. Kyle beat me last year,” Parks said.

Parks had a significant size advantage over Anderson, but the smaller wrestler was tough, holding his own against Parks for as long as he could, before finally succumbing and tumbling out of the ring.

“I was just thinking, why won’t he go down?” Parks said.

Parks said he’s competed in the Sumo contest at the Skirmish since he was 6. This victorious year will be his last, and Parks was glad to go out a champion.

“Next year, I’ll be too old to participate,” Parks said.

On Sunday, Evan Watts competed in the Sumo event for the first time. The 11-year old from Winslow won his division. Immediately after being presented with his first place trophy, a gold cup, he raised it proudly with his left hand.

“It’s very cool,” Watts said, touching his right cheek. “I can’t feel this half of my face.”

It was that exciting, Evan?

“No, because I tackled him.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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