By Mac Cerullo
---- — BYFIELD — Yesterday afternoon, the Triton wrestling program welcomed back alumni, parents and other supporters of the program to unveil its newly renovated wrestling room.
The new room includes a new mat, a new paint job and none of the damage that plagued the old room, which had remained effectively untouched since the program was first founded in the early 1970s.
The renovation was the result of numerous donations from parents, alumni and school administrators, and Triton athletic director Sean McInnis said the energy put into the project by supporters was amazing and speaks volumes about the wrestling program and the tradition it has fostered over the years.
“Usually something like this takes months and sometimes even a year or two,” McInnis said. “And we did this in just a month.”
Among the program’s former standouts in attendance was Con Madigan, a former state champion who coached Triton from 1987 to 1994. He said Triton’s always been lucky to have its own room, considering that many schools have to roll up the mats every day and find space in the cafeteria to wrestle, and that maximizing the space has been the key to the program’s success since the beginning.
“If you want to be a champion, you have to work out hard,” Madigan said. “It’s a great space. The administration has done a great job redoing that room.”
Coach Sean McElligott concurred, saying that just because they have a new room doesn’t mean what the room represents is going to change.
“It’s still the room, and we have a great history in there,” McElligott said. “Scotty Bateman, if you go see the new Hall of Fame, his plaque will be there. He is a part of the Triton Hall of Fame, he’s a three-time state champion and a two-time New England Champion. That happened in that room.”
McElligott went on to highlight Madigan, who won the 1983 state championship, the members of the state championship 1984 team and all the other champions who have passed through the Triton wrestling program over the years. What did they all have in common? Their success started in that room.
“The administration, the parents, their donations put together a great room. We need to honor that tradition of hard work and dedication and do the right thing,” McElligott said. “We have an opportunity, and I’d like to believe that we’re going to continue that tradition of hard work and dedication and in turn have more success.”
Though its season is just about over, the Triton wrestling team will get to hit the new mats for the first time later this week, as three of the team’s members, including freshly minted state champion Mark Boyle, prepare for Friday’s All-State Tournament at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
While the new mat is currently a little too big for the room’s footprint, McInnis said that over time the mat will shrink and it will eventually be form-fitted to the exact dimensions of the room.
McInnis added that the mat would be taken out during the team’s offseason in order to better preserve it, and the school also redid the hardwood floor underneath so the room can be used year-round for other physical education purposes.