Wrestling: Dirigo captures Mid-State crown

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RUMFORD — When Nelson Pepin stepped on the mat for the 182-pound championship match, the Dirigo wrestler listened as the crowd cheered.

He maintained his focus, and promptly took care of business.

The Cougars’ wrestling team followed suit. Using its considerable depth, Dirigo scored 168 points to win the Mid-State League championship for the second consecutive year Saturday over Fryeburg Academy (143).

The Cougars led wire to wire and had a comfortable margin entering the championship consolations and finals, which were held simultaneously. Three Dirigo athletes won individual crowns — Griffyn Smith (106), Thomas Barnett (160) and Pepin — while Fryeburg also had a trio of champions.

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“It was a good day,” said Barnett, who was voted Outstanding Wrestler after pinning Teddy Durfee of Wells in the finals. “Everyone wrestled up to their seeds. I feel the team is beginning to peak. The kids are keeping their noses clean and are coming to practices.”

Mountain Valley finished a respectable third 110½ points, led by Zach Cross who won at 195 pounds, while Wells and York rounded out the top five with 106 and 91 points, respectively.

Pepin, who won his 100th career match in the process, started attacking early and finished with a 14-2 major decision over Zach Handley of York. It ended a long day for Pepin who was sick during his first match.

“It doesn’t feel like I’ve even wrestled 100 matches,” said Pepin, who is the fourth Dirigo wrestler to reach the century mark this month.

In the lone head-to-head finals match between Dirigo and Fryeburg, the Raiders’ Jake Thurston decisioned Brett Whittemore at 152 pounds. The Cougars neutralized that loss when and Zach White (215) pinned a Fryeburg wrestler in the consolation finals.

Smith had started off with a 15-0 technical fall on Cody Baraneis of Lisbon, but the Greyhounds’ Zach Stevens 132 scored a five-point move at the end of the second period for an 8-3 decision against Dekota Jacques of Mountain Valley.

“These next two weeks are it,” Lisbon coach Mark Stevens said, referring to regional and state meet. “The kids need to be focused and working on the things they do right. They need to work hard during practices and not go half speed.”

Cross bumped up a weight class and the move paid off with an 8-3 decision against Mark Slusher of York. ‘’I knew I needed to get a takedown,’’ Cross said, “because I know that I’m not that strong on my feet.”

Falcons teammate Brandon Gill lost an 11-0 major decision to Colin Sevigney of Wells at 126. Michael Curtis of Wells stuck DJ Webber of Dirigo at 170.

“We took some hits early,” Mountain Valley coach Chris Bean said. “There were some basic mistakes, but some kids are coming back from sickness. We didn’t do as well as expected, but as long as the kids continue to wrestle hard.”

Fryeburg brothers Connor and Zach Sheehan each stuck Mountain Valley wrestlers Mike Provencher and Jake Thornton.

In a grudge match, Stewart Buzzell of Monmouth decisioned Hutchinson of Dirigo. Buzzell escaped in the second periond and survived a near fall as the end. The Mustangs James Gambinio was a champ at 138.

Those placing third were the Cougars’ Reilly Lombardi (132) and Lucas MacDonald (195); Ryan Scott (126) of Monmouth; Ian Austin (152) of Mountain Valley; and Lisbon’ Tyler Bard (138).

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