WINDHAM – With three seconds left in his wrestling match, Tyler Craig thought he was going to be a state champion.
With two seconds left, the Mt. Blue freshman thought he was going to be ill.
“I felt really sick,” Craig said. “It’s a miracle that I made it. I felt like my body just gave up on me.”
As if feeling ill was bad enough, Craig watched his 2-1 lead slip away in the final seconds of his championship match in the 106-pound weight class. A penalty cost him a point and forced overtime with just 2.1 seconds left.
“All I could think of was ‘Why!'” said Craig. “I was so close. That whole time I felt like I needed to puke.”
Craig outlasted Marshwood’s Elliot Allen for a 3-2 win in overtime. With Caleb Farrington’s win in the 170-pound class, the duo gave the Cougars two state champions in the Class A state meet Saturday at Windham High School.
“It’s amazing,” said Farrington, a senior. “I remember the first day I came to practice. Coach (Bob O’Connor) would tell us ‘state champions, state champions’ That was our goal. It almost seemed so out of my reach, but I did it.”
Mt. Blue finished third overall in the meet with 86.5 points, tied with Skowhegan. Marshwood won the meet with 167 while Massabesic was second with 109.5. Brewer and Cony were also tied at 56.
Edward Little finished with six points while Oxford Hills had four.
Both Craig and Farrington had tough matches that each nearly lost.
Craig and Allen were scoreless after the first round. Craig took a 2-0 lead in the second but a late penalty got Allen within 2-1. Craig seemed in control in the final round and didn’t give Allen much chance to escape.
Initially the chants in the crowd were for “Elliot” but by the end, cheers of “Tyler” were emerging strong from the Mt. Blue faithful. With just seconds to go in the match, Craig was called for a penalty. A point was awarded to Allen and the match was tied.
“I figure-foured the leg,” said Craig. “It’s a mistake I’ve made a few times. I think I made it the last time I wrestled him. I beat him by a lot more. God didn’t make it easy on me.”
Sick to his stomach and sickened to have to dig deep into overtime, Craig scored a point in the second overtime session for the win. The first minute went scoreless. He got an early point in the :30 overtime period that followed.
“Today wasn’t my day but I guess it was because I won,” said Craig. “I hope I can bring it for New England’s.”
It was an amazing season for the Cougar freshman but Saturday’s adversity proved things don’t always go as planned.
“I knew I’d go through here and do really well and beat most of my kids,” said Craig. “I had a good feeling I could win states. I never thought it would be the way it was. But God had to make it close.”
Farrington needed a late rally for his win. He and Kennebunk’s Evan Fecko were scoreless after the first two rounds.
“The first round was a whole lot of nothing,” said Farrington, who hadn’t placed in any previous state meet. “His stance was too good and my stance was too good.”
In the third round, Fecko managed to escape and earn the 1-0 lead in the final minute.
“You could see it on his look out there,” said Farrington. “He thought he was going to win because he had the point on me and neither of us had been able to score.”
That changed quickly. Farrington knew he had to make a move. He ducked low, grabbed the legs and managed to take Fecko down in one quick motion with 37 seconds left in the match.
“I just sank in and went for that with all my heart,” said Farrington. “I got it. Then it was just a matter of holding him down there or maybe turn him until the clock went out.”
After the victory, he lept into the arms of his teammates, who had cheered him on with chants of “Caleb” during the match.
The Cougars had a number of wrestlers score in the consolation matches. At 120 Khalil Newbill beat Brewer’s Mark Smith 17-2. He was the only third place finisher for Mt. Blue.
The Cougars also had a number for wrestlers take fourth. In the 126-pound class, Kevin Moore lost to Westbrook’s Scott Kirkpatrick, 9-8. Drew Blanchet lost to Noble’s Shane Shibles, 15-8 in the 138-pound class. Chris Ingram lost to Marshwood’s Lucas Howarth at 152 by a 6-2 score. At 182, Skowhegan’s Levi Hayden pinned Mt. Blue’s Tyler Sennick at 1:58.
Edward Little’s points came from Sheldon Bang in the 132-pound class. He was pinned by Cony’s Connor Dufour at 2:59.