There won’t be any place to hide when the top wrestlers in Maine gather at the three state wrestling meets Saturday.
The top four wrestlers in 14 weight classes have qualified for their respective state meets. Class A will be held at Noble High School in North Berwick, Class B at Morse in Bath, and Class C at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.
“I have been telling the team all week to win that first match of the day, take it one match at a time,” said Oxford Hills coach Tony Stevens, who himself won two state championships for the Vikings in 1991-92.
‘Don’t look past the match that is coming up next,” he said. “Any wrestler that qualifies for states has the potential and ability to place.”
In Class B, Mountain Valley qualified all eight of its wrestlers for the state meet, including champions Ethan Boucher (120 pounds), Jake Thornton (47-5 at 126), Brandon Gill (46 wins at 132), Dakota Jacques (145) and Zach Cross at 182. Freshmen Caleb Austin (44-2 at 113) and Eddie DeRoche (138) were each finalists. Anthony Boucher dropped a class and placed third at 195. Those finishes helped the Falcons win their seventh regional since 2008.
It was important for the wrestlers to place as high as possible, because the order of finishes will be reversed against Eastern regional competitors, including Camden Hills, Ellsworth and Foxcroft Academy, in state meet. It’s expected that several wrestlers who faced off in their respective regionals will meet again in the state meet.
One potential rematch would pit Mountain’s Valley’s Austin against Peter DelGallo of Gardiner, the reigning state and New England champion. Austin knows he needed to use his quickness and limit mistakes.
Oak Hill freshmen and regional champion Danny Buteau (34-4) will be a force at 106. Raider teammates Zachary Cloutier and Samual Woodard are each seeded fourth at 113 and 160. Fryeburg is led by champion Willy MacFawn (170) and finalists Trevor Henschel (182) and Andrew Lyman at 285.
In lieu of holding a regional, Class C will seed the top eight in each weight class.
Dirigo will pin its trust in Griffyn Smith (37-6 at 106), Hunter White (20-9 at 120), Bryce Whittemore (33-8 at 132), Tucker Barnett (24-14 at 138), Jesse Hutchinson (34-5 at 160) and Julian Baldinelli (24-10 at 220).
“It will be a two-team battle,” Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert, whose Cougars and Dexter will be the co-favorites, said. “The kids raised most of their seeds (against East) opponents last Saturday at Bucksport. So, we are ready to go.”
Smith won the state championship as a freshman last year. Hutchinson was a state finalist last year, and Baldinelli was a finalist at 145 in 2011. In any tournaments it is important for wrestlers who have suffered adversity to wrestle back and score vital advancement team points, which Dirigo will need from wrestlers placing third.
Defending state champions Zach Stevens of Lisbon, at 138, and Stewart Buzzell of Monmouth, at 145, will also be in the hunt for state titles.
“Zach has been working very hard,” Lisbon coach Mark Stevens, Zach’s father, said.
The elder Stevens is retiring this season after 17 years.
“We have told him that winning a third state title is harder than winning the first two,” Mark Stevens said. “He understands it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there. He has taken a few close seconds this season (Essex, Mid-states, McDonalds) and he has been working hard to turn those into firsts.”
In Class A, Oxford Hills with weighs its hopes on regional champions Taylor Alleano (29-10 at 113) and Malik Geiger (42-2 at 170). The Vikings’ Cordell Brooks 26-9 and Jon Hankey 30-6, and Sheldon Bang (33-7 at 132) of Edward Little each placed second. The Red Eddies’ Skyler Bang (29-8 at 145) and Mike Williams were third and fourth, respectively. J.T. Williams of Mt. Blue was a runner-up at 220. Two-time defending champion Marshwood will be favored, however Skowhegan will be in the hunt with brothers Cody and Tyler Craig at 106 and 120, respectively.
“My only concern is we have not seen to many west schools this season, so head-to-head matchups will be an unknown,” Mark Stevens said. “That can work in our favor as well, (because) they have not seen us either. All depends who shows up ready to wrestle.”