WALES — Maggie St. Germain decided it was time to make a change.

The sophomore cheerleader at Oak Hill, check that, the former cheerleader, decided to trade the pom poms for a wrestling singlet this winter season.

There wasn’t a single reason why she wanted to go from acrobatics in the air to learning how to apply a headlock or an arm bar.

“There’s a lot of drama with cheering because there’s a whole bunch of girls in the room,” St. Germain said.

She also suffered a neck injury that kept her out of cheering for a bit and prevented her from doing acrobatics and other stunts. And she had family and friends urge her to try wrestling, even though there’s not prior family history with the sport.

“My mom was excited, she wanted me to wrestle,” St. Germain said. “She’s wanted me to for a couple years now. She wanted my older sister to wrestle, too. She was excited to hear I was going to wrestle.”

It also helped she had a friend already on the team in Zoe Buteau, who was one of her friends that nudged St. Germain into one of the world’s oldest sports.

Buteau, who’s an All-American, knew St. Germain would make the transition well because there was going to be a couple weight classes that were open for St. Germain’s taking.

“She’s lighter than any of us,” Buteau said. “She would have a weight class below (us) that she would want. She’s really flexible and she would be able to get out of any kind of move if she put her mind to it. I thought it would be something good for her because she wasn’t feeling cheerleading anymore.”

Right now, St. Germain is slated at the 113-pound weight class.

Buteau said St. Germain has been quick to pick up the new sport. The biggest key she has seen is St. Germain’s strength has improved in the month since practices started. St. Germain has also learned the art of the takedown pretty well.

“I just ask a lot of questions, ask if I am doing it right, but I feel like I am catching on pretty good,” St. Germain said. “It takes a lot of practice.”

St. Germain credits cheerleading for improving her balance, which helps her make certain wrestling moves. She also said she has a lot of strength in her legs from stunting.

Oak Hill coach Ric Swett said this isn’t the first time he has had an athlete make the move from cheerleading to wrestling — St. Germain is the third in his 13th year as the Raiders’ coach. The other two were Nicole Lemay and Frankie Curtis. Curtis became an All-American and won the 165-pound weight class at New England championships in 2007 before attending a national tournament in Livonia, Michigan.

He’s still not used to cheerleaders trying wrestling, despite having those two others come before St. Germain. While it’s still early in the season, Swett is pleased that she’s giving a good long look.

“She’s still here,” Swett said. “We started out with eight and we have already lost four kids already. The fact she’s still here not knowing is certainly a testament to her wanting to be here, her ability to learn and hopefully wanting to succeed.”

Swett also lauds St. Germain’s confidence going from a female-dominated sport to a primarily male-dominated one in which she’s competing mostly against boys.

St. Germain said it’s challenging facing the boys, but that all she can do is do her best.

She has lost her first three matches of the season, which started Dec. 3 with the Viking Duals at Oxford Hills. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Raiders had meet at Dirigo, and then they had a match against Lisbon on Wednesday. She said she feels like she has been making progress.

“I haven’t won, but I feel like I am getting better,” St. Germain said. “I learned a lot because it was my first time ever doing it. My first match wasn’t that good at all, but I progressed throughout that day and throughout our meets.”

Buteau was impressed how well she did her first time out.

“You really have to have an open mind,” Buteau said. “She took her first match very well. I would have thought she would have taken it harder. She’s taking her matches pretty well. She’s getting stronger since her first match, and that’s really what we’ve been looking for. She’s going to get better.” 

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