MONMOUTH — Among Kyle Foyt-Bridges earliest memories are watching his brother, Ryan, 10 years his senior, wrestle for Monmouth Academy.

“When I was a little kid, he used to wrestle around with me and beat me up and stuff all around the house,” Foyt-Bridges said with a smile. “I used to come to the meets and I was just inspired to wrestle when I was really young.”

Foyt-Bridges started wrestling in the fifth grade and has moved up a rung on the competitive ladder each year, to the point where the 189-pound Monmouth Academy senior has legitimate hopes of going out on top.

“I’ve been working on it a long time,” he said. “It’s all starting to fit together now. I’ve had wins in the past, but this year it’s starting to look promising for me.”

He is 13-1 this season with three consecutive tournament victories. He pinned every opponent he faced in the Gardiner Tiger Tournament, Nokomis Warrior Classic and Wells Atlantic Invitational and was named outstanding wrestler at the latter.

The Atlantic meet was a benchmark for Foyt-Bridges. Seeded seventh, he pinned Mike Hamm of Oak Hill and Bucksport’s Chris Powell, two of the top-ranked wrestlers in his weight class, before meeting Mountain Valley’s Josh Allen in the final.

Allen had Foyt-Bridges on his back in the first and second periods and Foyt-Bridges trailed on points entering the third when Allen had him in a front head lock.

“I think Kyle started on bottom and somehow got Allen out of position so all of a sudden Allen had Kyle in a front head lock,” Monmouth coach Shawn Schultz said. “Kyle’s head and arm were twisted and he was just in a real bad position, but Kyle’s body was landing on top of Allen’s. Allen realized he was in danger and let go of the head and then he got grapevined.”

“He went to do a throw of some sort” Foyt-Bridges recalled, “and I used some of my weight, took advantage of it and ended up on top of him and pinned him as quick as I could.”

Strong, balanced and ultra-competitive, Foyt-Bridges is a challenge for any opponent because of his unorthodox style on the mat. Schultz admitted it could drive him a little mad as a coach a couple of years ago.

“He’s got a funky style,” he said, “but he makes it work.”

 “As far as move techniques, he’s got some interesting ones,” he said. “At this point, I give him space. He’s come a long way and it’s helped a lot.”

Foyt-Bridges insists on keeping things simple on the mat.

“I like to focus on the basics,” he said. “Stuff like keep a good base, keep your eyes on their hips. I don’t get too concerned with the really complicated moves.”

Still, Foyt-Bridges realized last year he would be better served to expand his repertoire and perfect some combinations. A third place finish at the Class C state meet told him he was on the right track.

Wrestling at 189 for the balance of his high school career has also helped him improve, Foyt-Bridges said.

“The competition has always been really strong. I like that. It’s always pushed me to want to come back harder the next time,” he said.

“He’s kind of hung around the same weight class throughout high school,” Schultz said. “This year, he’s a little bit heavier of an 189-pounder, and it’s muscle that he gained. So that’s helpful.”

“He works hard in practice. He’s got a couple of good wrestling partners and they push each other,” he said.

Foyt-Bridges wrestles everyone in practice. The smaller wrestlers help him with his quickness, the bigger wrestlers with his strength. The older ones, yes, the older ones, help him with his technique and confidence.

“I like practicing with the coaches most, just because they have a lot of experience,” he said.

“He’s the only guy in my history to come close to pinning me in practice,” said Schultz, who is in his eighth year at Monmouth.

Foyt-Bridges wouldn’t mind those bragging rights, but right now, he’s focused on his rubber match with Allen, who got revenge last week in Rumford, when they meet again at the Mid-State League on Jan. 29. He’s also carrying on a family tradition by mentoring his half-brother James Gambino, a freshman wrestler for the Mustangs.

“I get the honor of wrestling with him for one year,” Foyt-Bridges said.

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