LEWISTON – When Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller put out the call for anyone interested in wrestling, he got one eager student ready and willing to grapple.

Fuller explained to the prospective wrestler that he was trying to generate interest in the sport and get some sort of Lewiston team in development.

“He said ‘Great, man, I’ve always wanted to jump off the top of the turnbuckle,'” recalls the Lewiston athletic director. “I said, ‘That’s not the kind of wrestling we’re talking about.’ He said, “You can’t do suplexes and all that stuff?’ I said, ‘No, it’s real wrestling.’ Then he said, ‘Then I don’t want to do it.'”

And that was some of the most positive interest Fuller has gotten in starting a wrestling program at Lewiston.

“In the past, when I asked if there’s anybody interest in wrestling, nobody showed up,” said Fuller.

Lewiston had never had a wrestler until Mike Jalbert competed as an independent last year while working out with Lisbon. This year, he has trained with Oxford Hills and has another wrestler, freshman Josh Russell, competing as well. They compete and train with the Vikings coaches and wrestlers, but compete for Lewiston in meets. Fuller hopes their success breeds more interest in the sport.

“I’d love to see it,” said Fuller. “It’s a different sport and it offers something different for kids. A school our size should probably have a wrestling team at some point, but we’ve never had it. We’ve never had the interest.”

Jalbert and Russell hope to be trend setters. While Jalbert has pushed himself to succeed in a new sport, he’s also kept in mind the fact that he could play a role in the sports future in Lewiston. He welcomes that challenge and responsibility and hopes he and Russell can keep the interest rising.

“I’d love to come back someday and see that there’s a wrestling team here,” said Jalbert. “I’d like by the time that Josh graduates that instead of it being a club, it could actually be a team, and we’d have a coach and we’d get interest in it. Maybe someday, after I graduate, I could come back to Maine and have something to do with it and help or be an assistant.”

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