ELIOT — Saturday was a day for redemption for some and a golden opportunity for other wrestlers who were eager to compete in the fourth annual state qualifying tournament to earn a berth to the New England tournament at Marshwood High School.
This tournament was created in an effort to enhance the level of competitive Maine wrestlers who compete on the next level.
Wrestlers from throughout Maine were among the top three individuals in the 14 weight classes, and have automatically qualified for the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championship, to be held at Providence, Rhode Island, in March.
Mountain Valley’s Caleb Austin won a championship in the 126-pound class.
Cody Craig (106) of Skowhegan, Danny Buteau (132) of Oak Hill and Brad Beaulieu (138) of Marshwood each won his fourth state championship, last Saturday. Kyle Glidden of Marshwood. Matthew Calvery 152, Will Spinney 171 and James Thompson each placed third.
Austin won a decision over Chris Salo of Deering in finals, 8-4.
“Salo comes at you with hand movement,”Austin said. “I was able to ankle him. I’m confident for New Endland with seeding, but not going in over-confident.”
The competition at New England is extremely intense and mental mistakes have proven costly, so this setting tested each competitors both physically and mentally.
Mountain Valley’s Ethan Boucher (138) lost a tight 2-0 decision to Beaulieu. The Hawks wrestler executed a reversal early in second to remain unbeaten.
Craig (106) recorded three pins, including Vinny DeRoche of Mountain Valley in the semis and Noah Dumais of Cony with a cradle in the finals. It is Craig’s fourth qualifying championship.
“I’m not thinking of titles at this point. I am thinking of my standing and setup for New England,”Craig, who has never lost to a Maine wrestler, said.
He is ranked No.1 nationally by Wrestling USA Magazine. Marshwood won the unofficial team crown, with Skowhegan and Ellsworth.
Bryce Whittemore of Dirigo beat Dawson Stevens (third at 160) of Oxford Hills in the semifinals, but lost to Sam Anderson of Sanford 11-6 in finals.
“Basically, we were trying for the same thing,” Whittemore, who trailed 6-5 and allowed an escape, said. “He was able to get in on my legs for take-downs.”
Buteau had a tough battle and lost 6-5 to Samson Sirios of Skowhegan, on a reversal. Buteau had won an overtime semifinal match over Jake Martel of Noble.
“I knew it would be a tough match,” Buteau said. “I just need to go into (matches) with a positive attitude.”
Robert Heatherman (170) of Mount Ararat/Brunswick beat Trent Goodwin of Ellsworth in a technical match in finals.
There was numerous quality matchups through out the event, including several multiple state champions. Heatherman won the Dennis Bishop Most Outstanding Wrestler award. Andy Shorey (145) of Noble decisioned Jeremy Sendrowski of Scarborough, and Payton Cole (152) of Ellsworth rallied for a 15-12 decision against Quinten Richards of Nokomis.
Dirigo’s Hunter White (152) and Nolan DeGroot and Dalton Berry (195) each fell short in consolation matches.
Zuka Mabior of Oxford Hills was a major surprise, winning two matches, before being tech-falled by Ryan Ferdette of Winslow in the 182 final.
“The kids wrestled well today. Three is the most ever going to New England for us,” Oxford Hills coach Tony Stevens said. “Zuka came to us last year as a sophomore from Florida. He had wrestled in middle school. He’s a great kid with a heart of gold.”
Jeff Worster of Oxford Hills had suffered earlier loss, but wrestled back through to place third, at 220.
Freshman David Gross of Bucksport won at 285.