When the Maine regional wrestling championships end Saturday night, most of the attention will go to team and individual champions.
Which leaves most of the wrestlers across the state accepting the intrinsic rewards that have always kept them motivated: respect for their sport, their own effort and their opponents.
“That’s really the lay of the land. You’ve got to do good to be noticed, I guess,” said Brandon Jusseaume, the senior captain and 182-pound wrestler at Mt. Ararat. “Once I get better, I guess, that’s when I get noticed.”
Those who finish second, third or fourth will get something else: The knowledge that they get another week to enjoy the rigors of their sport as they prepare for the state championships.
For many wrestlers, reaching the state tournament is the major goal. Jusseaume did it for the first time as a junior, placing fourth in the Eastern Class A regional at 182 pounds. He lost his first two matches at the state tournament and was eliminated.
He said he never thought about giving up his sport, even when he went winless as a sixth-grader.
“It’s just like a family environment. Your brothers and sisters are in there with you and they make you want to come back,” Jusseaume said.
This year his efforts have resulted in a 37-9 record and his first-ever appearance in a tournament final, when he was runner-up at last weekend’s KVAC meet.
A return trip to the state meet is now likely. A state championship is not.
“But to place at states, that would be pretty cool to do that for the first time … my senior year,” Jusseaume said.
Sometimes the anonymous toiling does result in the ultimate prize. Nick Vogel, an independent wrestler from Greely, won the state 160-pound title last year after never placing previously at the state meet.
Sanford 220-pound wrestler Andrew Moriarty could follow that same path.
For most of his high school career Moriarty has been known for his height – he’s 6-foot-8. But he chafes at the notion that he has not met success.
What else would you call a progression from losing every match as a seventh-grader to being a two-time state championship qualifier?
Moriarty expects to qualify again Saturday when his team hosts the Western Cl;ass A regional. He says his goal is “to reach that big end, that state championship.”
But he does agree there is more to wrestling than winning championships.
“Honestly, I think the biggest thing is discipline. A lot of people going through other sports don’t get the discipline and the gaining of strength,” Moriarty said.
“That’s always been a part of wrestling for me, and being part of the hardest working sport in general. I’ve always taken pride in being one of those people.”
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: