Oceanside to debut club mat team this winterMariners to enjoy varsity schedule, compete at conference, regional championships
Rockland — The start of the high school winter sports seasons are a few weeks away, and there will be a new option for student-athletes at Oceanside High School to grapple with.
The Mariners will offer club wrestling as a sport for the first time this season after the Regional School Unit 13 Board approved the activity at a meeting in January. The club team will wrestle a full varsity schedule.
RSU 13 athletic director Jim Leonard said the club will fund "all the trips, all the uniforms and any fees that are associated with being a full, varsity program."
"They're going to wrestle as a team," he said. "We're in the schedule."
However, despite the fact that the Mariners are still club status, they will be eligible to compete for conference, regional and state championships at either the team or individual level since they are wrestling a full varsity schedule.
Leonard said wrestling is unlike other varsity sports where junior varsity teams are readily available for competition. In wrestling, "they let you right in" competition at the varsity level, he said.
"We looked at the best way that they could compete as a high school club [team]," said Leonard. "And this just seemed to make sense. [Maine Principals' Association Executive Director] Mike Burnham actually suggested it to me."
Jason Yates, who is the coach of the Oceanside middle school program, will guide the Mariner high school club team. All the team's meets will be at other venue and not in Rockland or Thomaston.
Leonard said the club will have to find their own place to practice as he does not have gymnasium time available, but "they're a resourceful group so I anticipate they'll find a place."
The team will be eligible to become a full-fledged varsity team for the 2014-15 season, but still may be required to raise funds to operate and not be financially supported by the school unit.
"That's all going to depend on how the [RSU 13] budgets lay out," Leonard said.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.