FRYEBURG — Mark Stevens made a pact with his son, Zach, this season: No wrestling talk at home.
Father and son broke that pact when they finally got back to Lisbon late Saturday night, again on Sunday morning and likely for the rest of their lives.
After coaching 50 state champions over 15 years of guiding other people’s sons to state titles, Mark Stevens watched his own son win his first Class C state championship Saturday at Fryeburg Academy.
Foxcroft Academy placed eight wrestlers, including four champions, to make it back-to-back team titles, holding off Dexter, 157.5 to 148.5. Bucksport (128), Dirigo (123) and Winslow (61) rounded out the top five.
Zach Stevens pinned Sam Thomas of Piscataquis at 4:52 of the 120-pound championship to join the long list of Greyhound champions, many of whom he watched growing up.
“It feels so surreal,” said Zach, a sophomore. “It feels that much better having my dad and (long-time assistant coach) Ted Albisini, who’s coached me since I was five.”
“Was the blood pressure a little bit higher this time around? Absolutely. This time, it’s almost personal. It is personal,” Mark Stevens said. “When you have someone in your family that’s come from where he was to where he is now… He wrestled at a different level starting in January and got a little stronger in February.”
“With other wrestlers I’ve coached before, they could always leave practice and go home,” he added. “Zach had a challenge having to go home with his coach every day. It was hard not to (talk wrestling at home), only in the wrestling room. But it’s sweet. I’m so happy for him.”
Dirigo senior Caleb Hall won his second state title with an 11-6 decision over Foxcroft’s Trevor Weymouth in the 132 final. Hall won his first title as a freshman, under the old weight class structure at 103.
“It feels great. It’s nice to see hard work paying off,” Hall said. “This feels a lot better (than the first title) because this is a tougher opponent than my last state finals match, for sure.”
Hall and Weymouth split in two meetings during the season. Not only did Hall have the vocal Dirigo cheering section behind him. The Dexter section directly across the gym adopted him for the final, too.
“I just had to wrestle my match and put constant pressure on him,” Hall said.
“He works so hard, every single practice,” Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert said. “Nobody deserves to be a state champions more than him.”
Bucksport rallied in the final round to overtake Dirigo for third place by taking four individual titles, including back-to-back pins in their only head-to-head meetings with the Cougars in the finals. Jacob Stewart pinned Julian Baldinelli at 3:29 of the 152 final, then Jordon Fogg pinned Thomas Barnett at 4:20 of the 160 championship.
The final results were bittersweet for Dirigo, which won its conference and regional championships and was hoping for its first state title since 2007.
“I told the kids if we placed 10 kids, we’d be right in the mix. We placed 10 kids,” Gilbert said. “Anytime you go to a state meet and place 10 kids, good things are going to happen, and they did. But we’d won the league, we’d won the regionals. We wanted that triple crown this year.”
Reilley Lombardi was Dirigo’s third runner-up, pinned by Dexter’s Aaron Webber at 4:23 of the 126 final.
Adding to Dirigo’s medal haul, Zach White edged Madison’s Ryan Malcolm, 2-1, to win the 220 consolation final. Eric Holman (113), Brett Whittemore (138), Jesse Hutchinson (145) and Alex Snowman (195) scored fourth-place finishes for the Cougars.
Peter Ruffalo of Spruce Mountain broke a tie with 15 seconds remaining by executing a takedown of Dexter’s Kyle Lockhart and won the 285 consolation round
Lisbon’s Tyler Bard (126) and David Moore (160) finished fourth.
Sparked by Brook Law’s dramatic 3-2 decision over Dexter’s Tyler Salsbury in the 113 final, Foxcroft won all three of its head-to-head matches in the championship round with its Penobscot Valley Conference rivals to have final say in a day-long dogfight.
“He lost to that kid early on at the PVCs and at regionals. He got pinned,” Foxcroft coach Luis Ayala said. “To come today and pull that victory off at the last second with a cradle at the end, it just showed his character and showed everything about what our team is made of.”