Caribou trio shoots for medals in first wrestling meet for girls

5 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Rylee Saucier began competing in the sport of wrestling as a fourth-grader. She recalls only going against other girls those early years in the program offered at Teague Park Elementary School.  

That changed when she joined the middle school team in sixth grade and boys became the primary opponent, and that has continued during her first two seasons on the Caribou varsity team.

On Wednesday, she gets to return to female-only competition when the inaugural Maine Principals’ Association Maine State Girls Wrestling Championships are held at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland.

“It’s a huge national movement and many states are following suit,” said Caribou’s wrestling coach, James “Chico” Hernandez. “Everybody is really on board.”

Saucier, a sophomore, said she’s ready, and she will be one of the favorites to win the title in the 113-pound weight division.

“I think it’s going to be awesome,” she said. “I’ve been looking forward to this all season.”

From left, Rylee Saucier, Chloe Kirschmann and Mia Thibodeau will represent Caribou High School at the inaugural MPA girls’ wrestling state championships Wednesday at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland. (Courtesy of Sha Lam Photography)

Saucier has logged a total of 37 victories and is undefeated against female competition the past two seasons. One of the wins came on a pin against Oxford Hills wrestler Jayda Stevens, who was seeded fourth at the Maine Central Institute Winter Classic in December, while Saucier entered as the ninth seed.

“Once I get on the mat, it doesn’t matter who is out there,” Saucier said. “It’s fun to just go out and kick people’s butts.”

Hernandez loves her chances of earning a state championship.

“She has become more technical in her approach and is very tough and determined,” he said. “The competition she has faced leading up to this meet has been difficult and I think that will make it hard for anyone to beat her.”

Saucier will be joined by teammates Chloe Kirschmann and Mia Thibodeau, who both will be looking for breakthrough performances.

“I’m pretty confident,” said Kirschmann, who is in the 220-pound division. “I am better mentally when I get out there against other girls.

“Guys have an advantage over us physically, so this makes it fair,” the sophomore added. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to show what we can do.”

Hernandez said Kirschmann possesses a “fantastic attitude” and is looking forward to seeing how she performs Wednesday.

“She’s a good student of the sport, never complains and is always ready to go,” he said, “so I think she’s ready for this opportunity to be the best in her class.”

Unlike her two teammates, Thibodeau is new to the sport. She is actually the team’s manager as a freshman, but Saucier and Kirschmann talked her into competing and now she will try to make her mark against girls across the state in the 160-pound weight class.

“She is surprisingly tough and even though she doesn’t have a lot of experience, I think she is a darkhorse to get a medal,” Hernandez said.

Thibodeau admits she has some apprehension heading into the state meet, but is set to give it a try.

“It’s not an easy sport,” Thibodeau said. “I’m scared for Wednesday, but I have some hope and courage, and the confidence of my coach and my teammates so I want to see where the day takes me.”

Hernandez said 70 female wrestlers are expected to be registered for the state meet, which begins at 9:15 a.m. Championships will be up for grabs in eight weight classes, from 106 pounds up to 220.