A lot of hard work and dedication is necessary to achieve a dream season.

Decota Cotten enjoyed such a season, going unbeaten and winning the New England championship. Cotten’ superior performances on the mat has earned him the 2003 Sun Journal wrestler of the Year honors.

Cotten dominated the 152-pound division in compiling an unblemished 46-0 record by relying on his quickness and crisp takedown techniques to win tournaments in New York, Vermont and Maine. He certainly needed all those skills in winning the New England crown in Lowell, Massachusetts March 8.

Maine had several others considered for the annual honors, including Jim Gaudette, Biddeford; Chris Remsen, Camden Hills; Brandon Hamilton, Skowhegan; Chris Tracy, Westbrook; and Joey Schreiber, Lisbon.

“Decota knows where he is at all times on the mat,” Noble coach Kip Devoll said. “That’s a great asset to have and it’s something that can’t be taught. A person has to have a sharp mind and be fully aware of the situation.”

Cotton had utilized his aggressive offensive skills throughout the season. The tactics held true in the first two matches at the New England’s. The Knights wrestler then adapted to a different style in the finale. The normal hunter became the hunted, but an ability to modify to a defensive style provided a big advantage.

Cotten won a 3-2 decision by executing a standing escape with 54 seconds left in the match. He then successfully countered the repeated shoots by Mike Raqusa of Foxboro, Mass.

The junior surpassed the century mark earlier this season and now has 119 career wins. The Knights, five-time defending state champions, have created a strong tradition, which Cotton learned last season. Cotten lost in overtime to Hamilton in the state finals.

“I was on a mission this season,” Cotten said. “Especially after having come so close last year. My goal was to win the states. I hadn’t really thought about competing in the New England’s, but my mind really changed leading up to it because I was practicing for it.”

Cotton knew how prestigious an aura existed there because his older brother James has placed fourth in the 2001 New England.

Last year, Cotten traveled to Rhode Island to watch the championships.

“Decota is a very intense wrestler,” Devoll said. “He gets a lot of that from his father, who really follows the sport. Decota is a great role model and the younger wrestlers really look up to him. In fact, several pee-wee wrestlers traveled down to the New England’s to watch Decota and a couple teammates.”

The Maine wrestlers earned a high degree of satisfaction with nine individuals earning medals at the regional tournament. These performances were inspired by four wrestlers advancing to the semifinals, but the consolation matches set the tone. Maine had several multiple state champions and the experience was invaluable.

The first team is comprised of four three-time state champions, including Camden Hills teammates Remsen (140) and Levi Rollins (130) who placed third and fifth, respectively. Hamilton placed sixth at 160 and Joe Schreiber of Lisbon failed to switch styles against a heavier opponents.

Schreiber, who weighs approximately 214 pounds, only wrestled an entire match once during the season. His lone loss was a 4-3 decision to a multiple Vermont state champion.

Seth Webber of Mt. Blue kept the name in the spotlight for the fourth-straight year. Older brother Scott was an SJ first team from 2000-02.

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