AUGUSTA — As the clock ticked down to complete the final round, Dillon Tibbetts knew he was just moments away from winning his championship match Saturday.

The end of the first round spared his opponent but for only a little longer. The Oak Hill senior finished the pin he nearly had in the first round midway through the next to give him the win at the 171-pound weight class in the KVAC championships at Cony High School.

“I was looking at the seeds so I knew I had a pretty good chance to win,” said Tibbetts.

The win put him in elite company. He became just the third Oak Hill wrestler ever to win a KVAC title. Jason Desmarais did it in 1997 while Adam Buckingham won in 2002.

“It feels really good,” said Tibbetts. “For our school, we’ve only had two other champions. So, it’s great to be included with them.”

Oak Hill nearly had another join that group when Nick Wells came close to winning in the 215-pound class. He lost a heart-breaker in the final seconds. Overall, Oak Hill finished seventh with 107.5 points.

Camden won the meet with 187, with Morse taking second with 160. Cony was third (148.5) followed by Mt. Blue in fourth (128). Mt. Ararat rounded out the top five with 120.

“My expectations today was to finish hopefully in the top five,” said Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor, who was named the KVAC Coach of the Year in Class A. “I have seven freshmen, and I just wanted to get them big mat experience before the regionals next week.”

Tibbetts came into his match as the top-seed. Having already beaten Morse’s Sean Marrero, his chances were good to join the ranks of his school’s best wrestlers.

“It’s an elite group to step in,” said Oak Hill coach Shane Bouchard. “He was ranked No. 1. He’s been wrestling really well.”

In his match, he nearly had it won before the first round ended. He scored two points with a take-down with 32 seconds left. He nearly had Marrero pinned but the final seconds ticked away providing a reprieve.

“If I had like 10 more seconds, I would have had that in tight,” said Tibbetts. “I felt good about it then.”

Tibbetts went for the win immediately in the second round. Up 5-0, he took Marrero down and had him in an arm lock. When he rolled him enough to lock in a hold around his neck, he had him. He got the pin with 1:15 left in the round.

“Once I got the second arm lock under the other arm, I knew it was pretty much over then,” he said. “That’s a tight move.”

Wells followed with a chance to win one of his own. He had a 2-0 lead after the first round thanks to a nice take-down at the legs of Morse’s Arthur Cavanagh. In the second round, Cavanagh rallied and took a 6-2 lead before an escape by Wells made it 6-3 after two rounds.

Wells tied it up in the third with a take down and later rallied from an 8-7 deficit with a move that took Cavanagh’s legs out from under him. It gave Wells a 9-8 lead with 11 seconds left. Cavanagh, however, escaped to tie with 10 seconds left and then won with a reversal with four seconds remaining.

“It was a tough match, a tough kid,” said Bouchard. “It’s hard to beat a good kid every time. He’s pinned him twice. It’s the end of the year tournament, you have to be ready.”

Oak Hill also got a third place from Keith Madore. He won in the 119-pound class with a 14-4 decision over Bryton York of Erskine. Craig Morrill also won his consolation round at 130 with an 8-2 win over Cony’s Peter Tracy.

“It’s about as good as we expected,” said Bouchard. “We had some kids shuffle weight today. We had a close match with Craig Morrill in the consolation semifinals. A couple kids in the semifinals kind of got lost in the shuffle. There’s a lot of kids and a lot of quality. We could have done a little better, but we could have done a lot worse.”

Mt. Blue didn’t have any wrestlers in the championship round but had many wrestling in the consolations. The Cougars got some strong performances from some of their younger wrestlers to earn the fourth spot overall.

“Team-wise we finished about where I thought we would,” said O’Connor. “Individual-wise, I thought we’d have some kids in the finals but we didn’t.”

Khalil Newbill won third at 103 with a pin of Belfast’s Evan Drinkwater. Kevin Moore won by forfeit at 112 in his consolation match. Gary Theriault took fourth at 135, losing to Morse’s Brandon McDougal by forfeit. Jonathan Iams also placed at 145. He lost to Erskine’s Drew Leeman 12-2.

“We had a couple seniors that didn’t win,” said O’Connor. “Andrew Currier won last year and didn’t place this year. Gary Theriault has been sick for a week-and-a-half. He took a fourth and had to forfeit.”

Oxford Hills finished with  37 points. The lone wrestler to place for the Vikings was Alac Buker. He reached the consolation final at 215 but lost to Cony’s Joseph Metcalf. 


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