A mix of veteran talent and an impressive freshman class has Mt. Blue emerging as a contender in Eastern Class A. But with the KVACs just a week-and-a-half away, coach Bob O’Connor is eager to see how his young wrestlers respond as the meets get bigger.

With seven freshmen in the starting lineup, the Cougars are 17-4 this year. Their only Eastern A loss came at the hands of Westbrook a month ago. They won the Nokomis tournament on Jan. 9, but followed that with uneven performances in the next two meets.

“We’ve got a young group, so they’re not used to this,” O’Connor said. “They’re not used to the big tournaments yet and they get a little awe-struck by it.”

“The issue that we have is obviously the guys are young and we kind of slipped a little bit after (Nokomis),” he added. “We lost to Noble Saturday, and we beat Morse, Belfast and MCI, and then we lost to Mountain Valley (on Monday). We’re having a hard time getting by the teams we should be getting by.”

O’Connor is nevertheless optimistic about how his team will fare down the stretch. Andrew Currier (21-7), who is four wins shy of 100 for his career, Defending Eastern A champion Gary Theriault (21-1) has been moving down from 145 to 135. That duo, along with Jon Iams (18-8) form the senior backbone of the lineup between 130 and 152 pounds. Junior Matt Archer is 23-6 as a heavyweight. 

The freshman class is headed by Alaska transfer Kahlil Newbill (23-4), who O’Connor thinks will compete for a state title at 103 pounds. Drew Blanchet (20-6 at 125), Kevin Moore (down to 112 after going undefeated at 130) and Travis Stuard (189) have also been standout rookies.

The Cougars will get ready for KVAC’s with a meet this weekend at Cony that will also include Lincoln Academy. 

“Cony is finishing the year strong, as they always do, so I’d like to have a real strong showing there,” he said. “The KVAC’s are at Cony, so I’d like that to be the starting block for us as we go into the tournaments.”

Around the mat

Lisbon, which finished a point behind Marshwood for fifth place at the
Redskin Invitational in Sanford on Jan. 9, returned the favor with a
one-point victory at Saturday’s Kennebunk Duals. The Greyhounds knocked
off Westbrook, Kennebunk and Biddeford in the preliminary rounds,
dispatched Kennebunk again in the semifinals, 45-36, then edged
Marshwood, 40-39, in the final round. The defending Class C state
champions will be one of a handful of Maine teams heading to Essex
Junction, Vt., this weekend for the Michael J. Baker Classic, which
draws teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont… Mountain Valley followed a win over rival Dirigo last Wednesday with a third-place finish at the Kennebunk Duals and wins over Mt. Ararat, Mt. View and host Mt. Blue in Farmington. Josh Thornton (140) continued to build momentum after his win in the Redskin Invitational helped the Falcons to a fourth-place finish with a 9-4 decision that handed Theriault his only loss of  the season. Tim Ross (130), Matt Duka (160), Taylor Carey (171) and Cody Magoon (125) each picked up three wins in the finals at Mt. Blue.. Numbers are down this year at Oxford Hills, and the Vikings lost more depth when Fred Stearns (140) suffered a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks ago. But Oxford Hills is making strides in its rebuilding program. Jake Hall (103), Nick Paine (130) and Alac Buker (215) had strong showings at the recent Nokomis meet with fourth, third and third-place finishes respectively … 


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