Vikings reign in Class A

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WATERVILLE – Jack Pike was the only Oxford Hills wrestler to reach the finals of Saturday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference wrestling championships, but he wasn’t the only Viking to respond at gut-check time.

Oxford Hills bounced back from a disappointing semifinal round and had six wrestlers win their consolation matches. Pike also found redemption by winning the 171-pound title and sent the Vikings to the conference’s Class A title at the Waterville Area Boys & Girls Club.

Camden Hills finished first overall with 195.5 points. Belfast finished second (150), followed by Oxford Hills (108), Morse (95.5) and Mt. Ararat (58.5). Mt. Blue (53) finished seventh and Oak Hill (32) ninth.

The Vikings had six of their seven wrestlers in the semifinals bumped out, and led Morse by just five points heading into the consolation and championship rounds. Five of the semifinal casualties, Nick Paine (103), Craig Varney (112), Adam Edgerton (152), Brad Smith (160) and Tom Moulton (189), wrestled to third-place finishes. Ron Packard, who lost a quarterfinal match to Camden’s Alan Muir, went as far as the 285-pound consolation final before falling to Muir again.

“The first round was pretty good for us, but after that we had a rough semi-finals,” said Oxford Hills coach Mark Dolloff, who was named KVAC Coach of the Year. “I brought my kids out into the hallway and I laid it on the line – ‘It’s there, if you want to go after it. Come back and score some points.’ They just came back. It’s a testament to them. There’s a lot of seniors in that group. They decided right then and there that they needed to re-focus and get back on the mat.”

They didn’t need to look much further for inspiration than Pike. The senior experienced the low point of his season a couple of weeks ago when he had an undisciplined match against Oak Hill’s Clyde Tibbetts and lost. Tibbetts was waiting for him again in Saturday’s final, but Pike controlled the entire match and walked away with a 10-2 major decision.

“I lost to him, 4-2 (the last time). I kind of lost my head and got called for slamming, technical violations and stuff. I kind of reached an all-time low. He was basically the turning point in my entire season,” said Pike, who finished third at last year’s KVACs. “This time, I just kept my cool. I just changed my style a little bit. I started riding leg.

“That was a rough week for Jack,” Dolloff said. “He’s a kid that when he gets down on himself, it shows on the mat. But after that, he actually put up some things in the wrestling room that said ‘I’m not going to get beat again.’ He did some things to motivate himself. He got his 100th win after that and just re-focused and hopefully, he’ll have a good regional next week.”

Mt. Blue junior Sam Webber picked up his second conference title, this one at 125, with a 13-3 major decision over Camden’s Murphy McGowan.

“I’d beaten him twice this season (via shutout), so I knew what moves I could do against him and what moves I couldn’t do against him,” Webber said. “I knew I had to run arms, I had to run chicken wing, and stuff like that. Cradles, he can’t get out of them very often because he’s long-legged.”

Fellow Cougar Gary Begin earned his 100th win Saturday, but was pinned 3:50 into the final by Belfast’s Kote Aldus, who was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.

Oak Hill’s Chris Lagasse finished third at 119 pounds, knocking off Gary Theriault, 4-2, in the consolation final.

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