SKOWHEGAN — With the action heating up at one of the biggest sporting events Skowhegan Area High School hosts, Tenney Noyes and Brooks Thompson are nowhere near one another.

In the main area of the Donald Finley Gymnasium, Noyes, co-head coach of the Skowhegan wrestling team, is exuberantly coaching his wrestlers from the edge of that mat. In the trainers’ room behind the bleachers, Thompson, the team’s other co-head coach, is pushing papers as the key organizer of Saturday’s Skowhegan Invitational.

“I kind of joke that we’re like husband and wife during wrestling season,” Thompson said. “We’ll be doing different things — I’m back here behind the scenes while he’s out doing the physical coaching —  but we’re also a good team. We always seem to know what the other is thinking.”

It’s a relationship that’s defined the Skowhegan wrestling program for nearly two decades now — longer, actually, with the two having established a friendship back in their own days in school. The two-pronged approach to coaching has helped the River Hawks build a strong program that’s stood the test of time as effectively as its two leaders.

Prior to stepping on as co-head coaches, the two Skowhegan alums met during their days in the wrestling program. Their first time meeting came in one of Noyes’ high school meets in the late 1990s, in which Thompson, then in middle school, competed in an intermission exhibition series with other youth wrestlers.

Since then, the two have been completely intertwined with Skowhegan wrestling. Thompson joined the coaching staff in 2005, and a year later, Noyes, who briefly stepped away from the sport for a deployment on staff, joined him to form a coaching ensemble that’s lasted 17 years.


“It’s really been since our middle school and high school days that we’ve been working together,” Noyes said. “When he was in high school while I was in high school, I’d come down and help out, and when he was in college, he’d come down and help out. Since that 2006 season, we haven’t had a break.”

Mt Blue High School’s Preston Garland wrestles with Hampden Academy’s Brody Simons in the 106-pound championship bout at the Skowhegan High School wrestling invitational in Skowhegan on Saturday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The duo’s resulting tenure has produced unprecedented success for Skowhegan. The River Hawks have won multiple Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titles under Noyes and Thompson and even took home the first state championship in program history in 2016.

The relationship, as Thompson noted, is a complementary one with the two combining to provide Skowhegan with a multitude of strength in its coaching staff. An Army veteran, Noyes is an upfront, hands-on instructor, and Thompson helps put things together on the logistical end.

“He’s a master with the bracketing and seeding and all of that; that’s kind of his wheelhouse,” Noyes said. “I take care of things out here with the setups and the coaching on the mats. With tournaments like this, it’s chaos coaching in them, so it helps to have people doing two different jobs.”

The duo’s contrasts are also a boon to Skowhegan during practices. Whereas the smaller Thompson is helpful when it comes to teaching techniques to the River Hawks’ smaller wrestlers, he said, the larger Noyes is a useful tool for wrestlers in the larger weight classes.

Those practices are a favorite of wrestlers such as Colby Nadeau, who appreciates the emphasis Noyes and Thompson place on conditioning. Although their focuses are in different places during meets, the two coaches, Michael Welch said, have similar mentalities.


“They work together really well, probably as well as anyone,” said Welch, who wrestles at 170 pounds. “They’ve been up through (the wrestling and coaching ranks together), so they know each other really well. I think that helps them a lot, and their styles are a lot the same.”

Skowhegan High School’s Caleb Pratt wrestles with Bucksport High School’s Joe Bowen at the Skowhegan High School wrestling invitational in Skowhegan on Saturday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

With one or two exceptions, Skowhegan’s current wrestlers had yet to be born when Noyes and Thompson began their current coaching stints with the River Hawks (then the Indians). Yet their passion for coaching, Thompson said, is just as strong as it was nearly two decades ago.

“We have a great group of kids that listen and work hard every day,” Thompson said. “The parents are all really supportive, too. It takes a lot to be able to organize and put on things like this, but having a great wrestling community helps a lot and makes it worth it.”

Twenty teams participated in the Skowhegan Invitational, which brought together teams from all over the state. At press time, Mt. Blue led the tournament with Preston Garland (106 pounds) and Noah Kryzsztofick (120 pounds) having won their respective weight classes.

Bonny Eagle was in second place at press time, trailing Mt. Blue by 19 1/2 points entering the championship round. Piscataquis was in third place with Skowhegan in fourth and Bucksport in fifth.

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