WELLS — The quality of wrestling certainly made the difference for Mountain Valley, which scored 138.5 points to win the Mid-State League championship Saturday by rallying past second-place York.
It proved to be one of the most competitive league tournaments ever because four teams were within six points of each other entering the championship consolations and finals.
Mountain Valley trailed York by four points, but won seven of eight matches by pins led by champions Caleb Austin (113), Ethan Boucher (120) and Jake Thornton (126), who earned four points, plus two points for a pin. This is a huge credit to the Falcons, which won their 14th MSL championship. Dirigo (118) was the two-time defending champion, finishing a respectable third behind champion Bryce Whittemore (132), while Wells (117.5) and Fryeburg Academy (113) rounded out the top five.
“We have some kids who are working hard,” said Mountain Valley coach Chris Bean, who had expectations of finishing first or second. “(You can’t take nothing for granted) because I’ve seen freshmen win states and then do nothing because they think they know it all, but you can’t fake it because there is always someone who pops up that wants to beat you.”
Austin and Boucher, both freshmen, put the Falcons ahead to stay. Austin (43-1) stayed on the offensive and stuck Griffyn Smith of Dirigo. Smith had won the MSL and state championship as a freshman last year.
Boucher controlled his match against J.D. Martin of Lisbon.
“A strength for me is my long arms,” Boucher said. ”It allows me to (execute moves) and get in tight, like I did against Martin.”
Thornton (45-5), who pinned Charlie Durfee of Wells, had set a school record for the most wins in a season. The former mark was 43 by Chris Cayer and Taylor Carey. Whittemore received a boost by upsetting Brandon Gill of Mountain Valley 5-0 in a semifinal match. The Cougar freshman had been pinned twice by Gill this season, but once he grabbed the lead he remained in tight.
”We had a plan,” said Dirigo assistant coach and father Dana Whittemore of Bryce who won by injury default over Tommy Cryer of Wells in the finals. ”There had also been a plan before, but Bryce hadn’t followed it. Today he did because he couldn’t afford to allow Gill (offense) on top and use his long legs.”
Gill, Eddie DeRoche and Dakota Jacques and Anthony Boucher 195 each wrested back to place third.
”Guys are a lot stronger,” said ‘Jacques, who bumped up to 145, so DeRoche could compete at 138. ”But I felt that I held my own.”
Cougar teammate Jesse Hutchinson was caught in a head-and-arm move three times in a finals match with Connor Elsemore of York and lost 9-7. It wasn’t all for not because Hutchinson had discovered a lot in a 5-3 win against Hunter Day of Fryeburg (third) in a SF match.
”That was a tough match,” Hutchinson said. ”Hunter is hard to wrestle, but I try to earn something each time I wrestle. You need to be mentally prepared for every match.”
The Cougars Lucas MacDonald (195) was stuck in finals and Julian Baldinelli won a 11-10 decision to place third at 215.
In a battle of defending state champions, Colin Sevigney of Wells wrestled defensively for a 3-1 decision against Zach Stevens of Lisbon at 138. Oak Hill freshmen Danny Buteau won the 106 championship with a 5-2 decision against Jon Mackaman of York.
”I credit having wrestled a lot growing up,” said Buteau, who had stuck Dirigo’s Jon Flagg (fourth) in the SF. ”I feel like I am bigger and stronger at this weight than most of my opponents.”
Raider teammate Zachary Cloutier (third) stuck Calvin Thompson of Monmouth. Fryeburg had the most champions with four, including Trevor Henschel who held off Zack Cross of Mountain Valley, 7-2, at 182. Matt Boucher pinned Lisbon’s Tyler Bard at 152.
Stewart Buzzell of Monmouth was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler and decisioned Josh Smith of York, 7-0. Mountain Valley’s Ian Austin (170), who was sidelined three weeks with a concussion, suffered another head blow and was taken to a hospital and was released.