AUGUSTA – An hour or two after the sky lightens this morning, Ryan Glover will be awake and fueling his body for the work ahead. Six hard hours of driving a team of horses beckon. That’s piling cut logs onto a sled for a trip to the nearest road.

“It’s pretty much nonstop,” said Glover. “From 8 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon usually. I’m on my feet all the time. We don’t take any breaks.”

What, your father couldn’t cut you some slack on this day in particular? Less than 24 hours earlier you were working up a healthy sweat. You’re Mountain Valley High’s heavyweight wrestler. Doesn’t that count for something in your house?

“Work has to get done,” said Glover, smiling. “I need money to buy gas for my truck. My father’s not here today. He’s busy breaking a trail through the snow with the horses.”

As Glover spoke, a packed house at the Augusta Civic Center reacted to the action on one of the six mats used for the afternoon’s consolation rounds. Glover had already won his first two bouts. He was heading to the Class B final Saturday at the state high school wrestling championships, which he also won.

Glover would have to tell his father about his day winning the state championship. Maybe while they were working in the woods around Rumford. “My dad does the chopping and the delimbing. We do it one species at a time. Right now we’re on hemlock. It’s all environmentally friendly.”

Some will say Maine is New England’s version of Indiana, a basketball state. Others will say Maine might someday match the hockey passion of Minnesota high schools.

High school wrestling? With some exceptions it’s still misunderstood or underappreciated. The stories of personal sacrifices, commitment and uncommon endurance go untold or unheard.

Too bad.

Jacob Powers is another among many. He scored 19 touchdowns as a running back for a good Camden Hills football team. Saturday, he said he couldn’t remember how many pins he’s had in an outstanding senior season, capped by one more to win the Class B 160-pound title. A teammate mentioned the number was considerably higher than his touchdowns.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” said Powers. “Touchdowns are worth six points to the team, though.” So are pins, buddy. “Oh, yeah.”

To Powers, both sports reward success. But nothing could compare to the work wrestlers must do to win. Workouts are brutal.

“It’s constant. You’re always moving,” said Powers. “Sometimes we chain-wrestle.”

Never-ending sprints carrying a teammate on your back. Physical pain and emotional pain that distance runners can share, pushing bodies beyond limits. Wrestling with failure.

But unlike runners, wrestlers can’t go home and chow down. Comfort food? Forget it.

“Pizza is the worst,” said Powers. “I love it and I can’t eat it.” He played football at about 180 pounds. He wrestles at 160. Many high school coaches have dieticians speak to their wrestlers about proper diet and weight loss. To a teenager the bottom line is always the same — something has to be denied.

Every wrestler can talk about the euphoria of pinning an opponent. “It’s an adrenaline kick, sure,” said Powers, describing the minute or the seconds before the referee slaps the mat.

Losing is humbling in ways that are different from other sports. No teammates to blame. Everyone watching. It’s all on you. If you lose, you submitted in a physical and emotional sense to someone superior. It takes a tough male — and female — to not consider walking away to a job or a couch.

That’s why winning is so powerful.

Glover was a junior linebacker and an offensive guard on Mountain Valley’s championship football team. His father, Randy, played football for Rumford but didn’t wrestle.

Several times this past season, Ryan Glover missed Saturday invitational tournaments. His father needed him to drive the horses. Glover was excused by the coaching staff.

“They figured I was probably working harder in the woods than on the mat,” said Glover. “Didn’t do much for my cardio. I had to make practice.”

Powers lives in Appleton. His father and uncle wrestled at Camden-Rockport. Jacob Powers has considered Lock Haven State, a Pennsylvania college with a wrestling tradition.

On a whim I asked Powers what his father does to feed his family. The kid smiled. He knew Glover’s story.

“My father has an excavating company. He cuts wood, too. He has a skidder.”

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

[email protected]