Friday, October 31, 2014
   
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Bryce Larson competes at new weight class in Maine

Gothenburg High sophomore-to-be Bryce Larson has spent a lot of his summer on a wrestling mat.

He’s also spent a good portion of his summer vacation getting to the mat. After wrestling in an area tournament in the spring, his high school coach, Tom Scott, informed him of a different opportunity.

Scott asked if Larson would be interested in an exchange trip to Maine where he and other wrestlers from Nebraska would compete and experience life in New England.

“I was excited,” Larson said, recalling his invitation. “I wanted to go.”

So in late June, Larson and a team of wrestlers from across the state boarded a plane headed for Portlant, ME. Nine days of wrestling, travel, outdoor adventure and seafood awaited.

Skowhegan was the first of four stops in the Pine Tree State. Larson lost his first match of the tour to the fifth-place finisher in Maine’s state tournament.

Larson opted to wrestle in the 120-pound division throughout the trip instead of his regular competition weight of 106, so he didn’t have to worry about cutting weight over the summer.

Larson dropped his second match in Dover-Foxcroft, but the team of Nebraska wrestlers won for the second time. The increased weight class was a tough adjustment for Larson.

“There’s a lot more muscle up there,” he said.

The size of his opponents wasn’t the only difference Larson noticed. He noted differences in style and approach. He said Nebraska wrestling seems to be more physical, whereas the wrestlers he faced in Maine were more accustomed to scrambling.

The third stop of the tour, Ellsworth, is where Larson picked up his lone win. He topped Maine’s fourth-place finisher via technical fall.

Larson’s final match, in Marshwood, presented his biggest challenge. He faced Maine’s runner-up. Larson lost for a third time, but he anticipates the experience of wrestling at a higher weight class will pay off during his high school season.

After qualifying for the Nebraska state tournament as a freshman, Larson has set his sights higher for his sophomore campaign.

“I want to be in the state finals,” he said.

If he makes it that far, the challenges he volunteered for this summer will be worth it.

If not, there are plenty of takeaways from the trip outside of wrestling. Larson recalls kayaking, canoeing, hiking, bike riding and fishing in Maine. Meals of lobster and clams were other highlights.

All things considered, Larson described the experience and the people he met as “great,” while the time on the mat qualified as “good.”

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