When Connor Sheehan suffered a broken ankle in November, he never took his eyes off his ultimate goal.
With plenty of hard work and dedication, that dream became a reality Saturday when Sheehan, of Fryeburg Academy, won an individual title at the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships in Providence, R.I.
Competition at the New England tourney is intense and mental mistakes can prove costly, forcing wrestlers to maintain their focus on each match.
Sheehan, who didn’t return to action until late January after breaking his ankle at the preseason Westlake Tournament in Bath, won a 3-1 decision over Troy Gassaway of Mount Anthony, Vt. The Raiders’ senior hurdled a roadblock with a pin in semifinals. He’d lost semifinal matches in each of the previous two seasons. Sheehan has medaled three consecutive years years at the New England tourney, having placed fourth the previous two years.
Other area wrestlers found the going extremely difficult on the big stage.
Thomas Barnett of Dirigo lost 10-4 to Chris Pagliccia of Timberlane, N.H. in a consolation bout at 160 pounds. Cougars teammates Griffyn Smith (106) and Nelson Pepin (182) each were eliminated Friday night. Smith, a freshman, was pinned by Kidayer Ajubyly of Portland, while Pepin lost 3-2 and 5-2 decisions. It was the first time for all three to compete in the New England meet.
Stuart Buzzell (145) of Monmouth won two matches, but was pinned by Colman Powers of Camden Hills in the fifth round of consolations. Zack Stevens (132) of Lisbon was pinned twice.
Mainers had won four semifinal matches to reach the finals, led by the DelGallo brothers of Gardiner. Peter, a freshman at 106 pounds, won a crown with a hard-fought 3-2 decision against Joseph Rossetti of Glatonbury, Conn. Older sibling Dan, a junior wrestling at 138 pounds, was a finalist last year. He lost a 4-3 decision.
Jared Jensen of Brunswick lost 9-1 to Eliott Antler of Xavier, Conn. Jensen, a three-time state champion, placed sixth in New England last year.
Maine, which returned to competition at the New England meet in 1999 following a 21-year hiatus, earned eight medals this year.
Other Maine medalists included Cody Hughes of Marshwood, third at 152; Colin Sevingy of Wells, fourth at 126; Victor Irwin of Brewer, fifth at 220; and Tyler Craig of Skowhegan, fifth at 113. Craig won a state championship at Mt. Blue, in 2012.
Mount Anthony of Vermont won team championship with 109 points, dethroning Timberlane, N.H. (69.5 points), the three-time defending team champion. Gardiner (ninth at 47 points) and Marshwood (16th with 30) were the highest ranking Maine teams.