When Carsten Ueckert-LaPlante was a freshman, he made the decision to join the Georgetown/Ipswich wrestling team.

The road was rocky early on for Ueckert-LaPlante as his inexperience in the sport translated into just two wins on the season. But he didn’t get frustrated; instead, he worked to improve his technique and skill set. 

Now, as a senior on the team, Ueckert-LaPlante is a returning academic All-American who is thriving on the mat, recently committing to wrestle at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York. Continuing his grappling career in college was an easy choice.

“I think it was just about my competitive nature and wanting to push myself to the best I can be,” said Ueckert-LaPlante, a senior at Ipswich High. “And seeing other people have success and wanting that success.”

Ueckert-LaPlante knew he wanted to attend a service academy and he looked into places like West Point, the Naval Academy and the Coast Guard Academy. The various post-graduation option ultimately made the 126-pounder choose the Merchant Marine Academy.

After watching Ueckert-LaPlante grow in the last four years, Georgetown/Ipswich head coach Ryan Archambault is confident his grappler has what it takes to succeed at the next level.

“He just has the right mentality. He doesn’t get nervous in matches. He stays even-keeled. His emotions are very in control,” said Archambault. “He’s confident in what he does and knows if he sticks with his game plan that good things are going to happen.”

After a rough freshman season, Ueckert-LaPlante did a lot of work in the offseason and saw improvement the following year. His major jump, though, came after his sophomore season.

As a junior Ueckert-LaPlante began to dominate his opponents, amassing a total of 24 wins and an appearance in All-States, where he took sixth place. This season, Ueckert-LaPlante is a senior captain and has experienced similar success, highlighted by a recent win over a Lexington opponent.

A month earlier, he defeated the same opponent 1-0 in a grueling quadruple overtime match. Showing how much he’s grown as a wrestler this season alone, Ueckert-LaPlante dominated the most recent match by an 11-1 score.

For Ueckert-LaPlante, success on the mat comes down to mentality.

“You definitely need the right attitude to remain positive even after you get your face dragged across the mat,” he said. “After the first period, you need to be able to get up and keep going the next two periods.”

But wrestlers also need the moves to match the attitude. Ueckert-LaPlante’s favorite is the single leg and he’s dangerous when he’s on his feet. If the senior can get on top, he’ll control his opponent and turn him in order to pile up the points.

Ueckert-LaPlante’s success has helped Georgetown/Ipswich to a 16-5 record, including a 13-2 mark in the month of January.

“It’s a really good group of guys this year. No one is giving up and everyone is giving 100 percent. No one’s rolling over to their backs,” said Ueckert/LaPlante, who talked about his time wrestling for the program.

“It’s meant a lot. I think I’ve developed as a person a lot. I even wrote one of my college essays about my experience wrestling.”