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Wrestling to make its return to Woodstock Academy

Cahan Quinn remembers what it was like to be a wrestler at Woodstock Academy.

“I remember the family aspect; to be with the team for most of the week and then on Saturday for the all-day tournaments. You really get to know your teammates and spend a lot of time together,” Quinn said.

Quinn was convinced, as a junior, by Tristan Menard to go out for the team.

He loved it.

But the program was ended following the 2017-18 season.

It will be back as a winter athletic offering in 2023-24.

And so will Quinn as he will be the head coach of the program.

“It’s nice to get the program back,” said Woodstock Academy athletic director Sean Saucier. “It’s a sport that I enjoy. I’m familiar with it. I used to run it at Hyde (School) and (his first year at Woodstock Academy). It’s a great sport for boys and girls and we’re super-excited to get it back.”

Saucier held an organizational meeting last week for the program.

Over 25 potential wrestlers turned out with about half that number “fully” committed and the others very interested.

“We were looking for, at minimum, 15-20 potential wrestlers and we got that. There is definitely some excitement and the numbers justify (bringing the program back),” Saucier said.

Not all is said and done.

There are still some logistics to be worked out such as where the program will be housed.

The winter sports at Woodstock Academy already include three levels of boys and girls basketball, boys and girls ice hockey, boys and girls indoor track, gymnastics, cheerleading and a ski team.

“I think we have space on the North Campus to fit them in. They may have some creative practice times, like we do with hockey (the boys practice at 5:30 a.m. at the Jahn Ice Rink at Pomfret School). We were able to make it work with two prep basketball teams. I think we can make it work with a wrestling team,” Saucier said.

The team will immediately return to the varsity level.

Woodstock Academy has already reached out to the Eastern Connecticut Conference which has agreed to add the Centaurs to the league schedule for the sport next winter.

“We will be in a lower division as we get our feet under us,” Saucier said.

Quinn is just excited for the opportunity, not only for himself, but the athletes.

“I’m excited to bring the program back and help out the athletes a lot. It will make them more well-rounded and give them something else to do in the winter,” Quinn said.

It’s also that type of sport where the individual is highlighted as much as the team.

“It’s a very individual sport, based on yourself and how much work you are willing to put in, with a little of the team aspect on the scoring side. You want to help the team win by doing your best on a consistent basis. There are usually not a lot of people on the team so it’s a really tight-knit community,” Quinn said.

It is also a sport that demands discipline.

In addition to perfecting wrestling moves athletically, there is also the mental aspect.

Athletes have to endure the long days, prepping for their matches while dealing with a lot of down time.

And the most difficult part, making and maintaining weight throughout a 4 ½ - month season.

The sport offers an advantage to an educational institution- it’s co-ed.

There were no girls at the organizational meeting but that may not be the case next winter.

“I had a girl who came up to me (Thursday) asking if she could wrestle and I said,’Absolutely. If you want to come next winter, feel free, we’re not turning anyone away,’” Quinn said.

And it makes for a happy football coach as it keeps athletes in the weight room.

“There is, obviously, some crossover there and it’s a great way for the kids to stay fit, work on their strength, and I’m excited to have Cahan (who is also an assistant football coach) as our wrestling coach so there will be a lot of crossover there. That’s helpful,” said Saucier who is also the school’s head football coach.