Regional meets will be held this weekend in Classes A and B, but Class C will be holding a qualifier for next week’s state meet, a change that has been met with a lukewarm response from coaches and wrestlers.

Implemented by the Maine Principals’ Association for this season because of an imbalance in the number of teams between Eastern and Western C, the qualifier with gather all of the Class C wrestlers in the state at Jay High School Saturday. Wrestling on four mats in 32-wrestler, double-elimination brackets, they will determine the eight wrestlers in each class that will move on to the state meet on Feb. 13 at Dexter Regional High School.

“It will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s a lot of wrestling in one day,” Monmouth coach Shawn Schultz said. “Time-wise, it’s going to be brutal. It sounds like we’re wrestling all the way to first place so we can seed them for states.”

“This weekend has bigger stakes than it typically has for Class C West, because we only have four teams,” he added. “Last year, almost everybody went to states. This year will be different.”

Wrestlers and coaches have expressed a number of concerns about the change. The top eight wrestlers will be facing the same competition next week at states. Some weight classes will be deeper than others, making for a long day and a lot of time between matches for some wrestlers. Class C will also have half as many competitors pick up regional medals as their peers in A and B.

“We don’t know what to expect, but all Class C schools are in the same spot, literally and figuratively,” Lisbon coach Mark Stevens said. “Some weight classes might have 24 kids. Some will only have 10.”

Stevens said the Greyhounds won’t have a different approach than they would for a typical regional, and his team is going into the tournament “with a positive attitude.”

“I am certain those who have planned this event have thought of every possible glitch, and things will run smoothly,” he said. “It’s important that we drive home to our kids that the real state championships are going to be on the 13th at Dexter with the same eight kids who finish this weekend. Tough sell, but we can do it.”

Mustang’s alley

Monmouth finished eighth at Saturday’s Mid-State League championships. In some respects, though, the Mustangs were just happy to be there.

“We had some bus trouble on the way down,” Schultz said. “We had one bus break down. The second bus that came to get us was breaking down, so they had to turn around, and then a third bus came. So we missed the seeding meeting.”

When they finally got to Wells High School, the Mustangs found out that some of their wrestlers had been bumped around their brackets, including Eric Coulombe, who was seeded first at 140 and got bumped to second “to a side of the bracket that was harder,” Schultz said.

Coulombe lost to Brandon Jonaitis of Dirigo in the second round, then defeated Zach Fasklanos of York before winning the consolation round against Phil Kyser of Georges Valley by injury default. Fellow junior Kyle Foyt-Bridges (189) also earned third place with a 13-0 major decision over John LaMarca of Traip.

“They’re both real strong wrestlers,” Schultz said. “They hate to lose. They have some tough opponents that they’ve beat, but they’re still learning some moves and strategy.”

Numbers are down at Monmouth this year. The Mustangs will take eight wrestlers to the Class C qualifier, along with at least a couple of Winthrop wrestlers, Alex Bittues (119)and Josh Seekins (285), who have been valuable additions to practice. They have no seniors, so Schultz is hoping the next two weeks can build some momentum for next season.

Around the mat

The 3rd Annual Maine High School Girls Wrestling Invitational is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Gardiner High School. The entry fee is $15. Check-in starts at 2 p.m., with the competition beginning at 4 p.m. For more information, contact Terry Devereaux at [email protected] … The Mountain Valley Youth Wrestling Classic will be held Sunday, Feb. 14, at Mountain Valley High School. The tournament is open to 400 wrestlers between pre-K and 8th grade. The entry fee is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Weigh-in starts at 7 a.m. Send team rosters to [email protected] or for more information, call 414-8484 or 357-4207.

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