By Harold Rivera, The Daily Item (Lynn)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Making the jump from high school to college sports brings its fair share of challenges for athletes. It’s no secret that sports in college bring bigger, faster and smarter competition, more often than not.
Perhaps one of the best ways to prepare for the transition to college athletics is to come from a successful high school program. That’s the route Lynnfield wrestling product Eric Kerr has taken, and now he’s starring at Bridgewater State.
Kerr, a Lynnfield native, was a standout wrestler in his four years as a Pioneer. While wrestling at Lynnfield, a program which also includes student-athletes from North Reading, Kerr learned from one of the most decorated wrestling coaches in Massachusetts: longtime Pioneers coach Craig Stone.
Although Kerr came to the Pioneers with limited wrestling experience, he credits Stone for motivating him to stick with the sport in high school.
“It was a great experience. I loved wrestling at Lynnfield, the team was awesome,” Kerr, who was also a member of the golf team at Lynnfield, said. “Coach Stone was a great coach and always made sure I was guided in the right direction. I struggled when I first came to the program as a freshman but he really inspired me to keep with it through all four years of high school.”
Under Stone’s guidance, Kerr prepared to bring his wrestling talents to the collegiate level. The competition he faced and the success he reached as a Pioneer also aided his cause.
“My senior year at Lynnfield was pretty tough,” Kerr, who wrestles in the 157-pound weight class, said. “I worked pretty hard at what I wanted to do, which was win states. I think that helped prepare me pretty well for the competition at college.
“My goal in high school was to continue my wrestling career in college,” Kerr added. “That was my goal. I think the program here at Bridgewater is great. I don’t think I’d be the same person without it. It’s definitely helped me throughout college.”
Now a senior at Bridgewater State, Kerr and the Bears are off and running in his last go-round as a college wrestler. The Bears are 1-1 in dual meets this season, as they defeated New England College in their opener on November 1. Most recently, the team placed 12th in the Messiah Petrofes Invitational in Pennsylvania on December 2. Individually, Kerr has posted a 12-5 record this winter.
Also on the Bears roster is a fellow Pioneers product in Tom Arsenault. Also a Lynnfield native, Arsenault has been sidelined with an injury through the first half of the season but hopes to return this year.
Kerr believes the team is moving in the right direction and added that a promising freshman class provides plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.
“We placed in a few of our tournaments and we’ve had a good start to the season,” Kerr said. “We have a great freshman class and they’re all great kids. Our freshmen are working hard and that keeps the rest of the team motivated. We’re a team that’s on the come up for the next few years.”
During the holiday break, the Bears will focus on preparing themselves for the second half of the season. Bridgewater State has seven meets left on its schedule before the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Tournament takes place on February 24-25 in Worcester.
“It’s almost easier because we can do two workouts a day,” Kerr said of the holiday vacation. “We lift in the morning and practice at night. It’s easier because we don’t have to split time between classes and wrestling. It’s probably the best time of the year to improve.
“My goal for the season was to place at regionals, which is the last tournament of the season,” Kerr, a business management major with a minor in computer science, added. “I wanted to finish the year on a good note and with a winning record.”
Kerr and the Bears are back in action on January 10 when they visit Western New England for a tri-meet that also includes Roger Williams.