WESTBROOK — Sometimes the greatest of achievements are born from the most frustrating of failures.
After Mt. Blue lost the KVAC wrestling meet last week by a single point to Cony, the Cougars didn’t need much to fuel their fire. Mt. Blue was determined to make a statement and make amends Saturday.
“Our coach (Bob O’Connor) got after us a little bit after (last week),” said freshman Tyler Craig. “We definitely weren’t wrestling at our best last weekend. I think we did a lot better today. It definitely motivated us.”
There was no close call or near miss for the Cougars this time around. Mt. Blue repeated its performance but not of last week but of last year — taking a second straight Eastern A championship with a resounding victory. The Cougars finished with 168.5 points while Cony placed second with 138. Skowhegan was third at 135.5 followed by Westbrook at 96 and Windham at 92.
Oxford Hills was eighth overall with 55 while Edward Little was 11th with 27.
“Our coach really wanted to win this,” said junior Khalil Newbill. “We all tried to work our hardest to get this for him. We only have four seniors, and we’ll have a strong team next year, but this was really important.”
Craig (106), Newbill (120), Kevin Moore (126) and Caleb Farrington (170) all won in their weight classes. Mt. Blue also got wins in the consolation round from Drew Blanchet (138), Chris Ingram (152), Zach Faulkner (160) and Tyler Sennick (182).
“Last week we went to the KVAC meet with high expectations and the guys didn’t wrestle well, ” said O’Connor. “We practiced real hard for four days and gave them a day off to watch some movies in practice. They all came to wrestle and we put eight in the medal round and all eight won.”
Craig started the medal round with a quick result at 106. Facing Mt. Ararat’s Jacob Kenney, the Cougar freshman used less than a minute to get a pin.
“The (KVAC’s) I wrestled a little slow most of the match,” said Craig. “This match I felt like I turned it on quite a bit. I had beaten him before. I just felt like I needed to turn it on.”
Newbill then added a win at 120. He got an early 2-0 lead and that set the tone for the rest of his match again Brewer’s Mark Smith.
“As soon as you establish the early lead, you can calm down more,” he said.
He was up 4-0 after two rounds and nearly had the pin but settled for a 12-0 victory.
“I felt pretty strong through the whole match, but I got tired toward the end,” said Newbill. “I tried to lock in that pin, but I didn’t really get it.”
At 126 pounds, Moore beat Westbrook’s Scott Kirkpatrick. It was a tough challenge for the Cougar junior.
“To tell the truth, I was scared,” said Moore. “I had heard about him for awhile. I had heard he had dropped down two weight classes to 126.”
Moore got the early 2-0 lead in the first round and was up 4-0, but Kirkpatrick battled back to get within 4-2 midway through the third round. Moore answered with a take down in the final minute to secure the 6-3 win.
“I was a lot faster, and he was definitely stronger than me,” said Moore. “I just kind of pulled that (last score) out of my butt. I didn’t really realize what I did until I did it.”
Farrington secured the other championship round win at 170 pounds by beating Cony’s Mikal Federici, 12-7.
“My conditioning wasn’t as good as it should have been,” said Farrington, a senior. “I plan on working on that next week. Overall, I knew I could win. I knew he was a good wrestler. So I knew I had to work for it.”
Farrington had beaten Federici three previous times and had to outlast him after taking the early lead. Farrington was up 2-1 after the first round and built a 5-1 lead, but Federici continued to battle back. It was 8-5 after two rounds. Farrington built the lead up to 10-5 and held off Federici’s last hopes for a comeback.
“I had to beat him with the points game and not the pin,” said Farrington. “He was relentless. He wouldn’t stop, and I have to respect him for that.”
In the consolation round, Blanchet beat Westbrook’s Cal Randall at 138. He won by a 7-3 score.
Ingram won his 152 match by an injury default when Oxford Hills’ Malik Geiger couldn’t continue. Faulkner won with a pin at 160. He beat Edward Little’s Shawn Bang. Sennick added the final win in the semifinals with a win over Erskine’s Cade Ayotte.
“We wanted to come in and win,” said Moore. “We wanted a repeat of last year.”
Oxford Hills had a number of wrestlers reach the podium. Cordell Brooks won his consolation round match at 106. He beat Windham’s Sam Frank. Jon Hankey won his semifinal at 120. He beat Westbrook’s Max Storm with a pin. Geiger took fourth at 152, losing to Ingram.
Edward Little’s best finish was Sheldon Bang taking third at 132. He beat Mt. Ararat’s Felipe Gunter with a 12-4 decision. Shawn Bang took fourth after his consolation loss to Faulkner.
Poland earned five points in the meet from Brandon Drotter. He reached the consolation round at 170 but was pinned by Windham’s Devin Pelletier.