Erskine’s Mike Sprague, top, vies for position with Oxford Hills’ Caleb Johnson in the 132-pound class.
RUMFORD — High school wrestlers like to use the early season big meets to improve and establish themselves as names to look out for in the end-of-season tournaments.
The competition at the Franklin Savings Bank Wrestling Invitational at Mountain Valley High School gave them a chance to do both Saturday.
Many of the top wrestling schools from around central Maine took part in the tournament, including defending Northern Class A champion Skowhegan, which put five wrestlers in the championship round to top the 18-team field.
Skowhegan finished with 123.5 points, ahead of runner-up Oxford Hills (108) and Wells (94). Foxcroft (70.5), Erskine (67) and the host Falcons (64) rounded out the top six.
The Vikings challenged Skowhegan thanks to pair of individual champions, Dawson Stevens (160 pounds) and Zuka Mabior (182). J.J. Worster (196) also reached the final round, while Dylan Cobbett (152) and Jason Paradis (170) won their consolation round finals.
“We had some kids out today, so the upperclassmen had to step it up and get some bonus points,” said Stevens, who did just that by pinning Lisbon/Oak Hill’s Cam Bourget 33 seconds into their final.
The main objective of meets like Saturday’s, though, is to get an idea of what wrestlers are doing well and not so well.
“It sharpens your tool box, gets something started,” Stevens said. “It’s a build-off tournament.”
Dirigo, which finished tied for 11th with 37 points, had five freshmen who went into the tournament unseeded. Co-coach Dana Whittemore said he and his staff were watching each wrestler closely, including the veterans, to have a jumping-off point for next week’s practices and dual meets.
“We’ll be setting up our practices on what we see in every individual match here,” Whittemore said. “We’ve got so many things we’ve got to work on, we’ll pick at each individual match and find something.”
Veterans Jon Wainwright (fourth at 138), Dalton Berry (third at 195) and Nolan Degroot (third at 220) got a chance to see how they measure up against the competition.
“What you’re trying to do early in the season is figure out some of your competition,” Degroot said. “You look at their wrestling styles, see what they like to do, and their conditioning, and your conditioning. If your conditioning is poor, it tends to carry on into the season, so you figure out, ‘I need to run more,’ or, ‘I need to work on this to face this person.'”
Degroot, a junior, added that the meet is a good chance for young wrestlers to acclimate to the speed and strength of high school wrestling.
“Typically freshmen don’t understand the next level of wrestling that high school is,” Degroot said. “The first few meets of the season, they’re trying to figure out how it is. We just try to stress simple things upon them and get them to understand the sport of wrestling further.”
Of course, the meet means a little more to the wrestlers who call Puiia Gymnasium home. Mountain Valley kept the local fans interested with two runners-up, Vinney Deroche (106) and Matt Myles (113), a third-place finish by Evrit Roy (132) and a fourth-place finish from Darin Buono (195).
“(Hosting the tournament) helps me get going,” Roy said. “This helped me find out where I really need to improve. I didn’t work very well on bottom, so on Monday at practice, I’ll pick bottom every time I have the option.”
After combining programs during the offseason, Lisbon and Oak Hill had three wrestlers reach the podium: Cam Bourget (second at 160), Jack Tibbets (fourth at 120) and Bradley Harriman (third at 182).
“The whole goal of this tournament is to find out how tough it really is,” Lisbon/Oak Hill co-coachTed Albasini said. “We brought eight kids and placed three of them in a 16-team tournament. That’s pretty tough. There are some really good Class A teams here.”
Mt. Ararat’s Brett Raio, right, tries to escape the hold of Skowhegan’s Chandler Shaw in their 145-pound match at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Mountain Valley’s Everit Roy, top, jostles with Belfast’s Ryan Peavy during their 132-pound match at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Oxford Hills’ Caleb Johnson, left, and Erskine’s Mike Sprague both end up head over heels during their 132-pound match at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Mountain Valley’s Alex Shorey, left, contends with Windham’s DJ Pelletier in the 126-pound weight class at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Windham’s DJ Pelletier, left, acquaints Mountain Valley’s Alex Shorey with the mat in their 126-pound tussle at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Windham’s DJ Pelletier, right, sends Mountain Valley’s Alex Shorey to the mat during their 126-pound match at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.
Dirigo’s Owen Libby lifts Wells’ Ryan Norton during their 120-pound match at the Franklin Savings Bank wrestling tournament Saturday.