JAY — Dirigo wrestling coach Doug Gilbert is a mathematics teacher by trade, so the Cougars knew the bad news before anyone picked up a microphone and told them.

“If one more person placed,” said sophomore Nelson Pepin, “we would have won.”

The Cougars celebrated four champions and a runner-up and won eight consolation finals in Saturday’s Class C qualifying meet at the Tigerdome. That means Dirigo will send a lucky 13 competitors to Augusta Civic Center next weekend, demonstrating the kind of depth that could bring home a state title.

It just wasn’t quite enough to walk away with the regional hardware. Top team honors at the season’s second-biggest meet went to Foxcroft Academy by a 181.5 to 178.5 margin.

Dirigo failed to produce a top-four finisher in only one of the 14 weight classes.

Those points would have been enough to put the Cougars over the top. Then there was the case of 160-pound champion D.J. Webber, who had two walkovers into the final. Had both those byes been wins on the mat, the title would have belonged to Dirigo.

“(Three) points is not a lot. Not when you’re talking 170-something,” Gilbert said. “But (Foxcroft) had byes also. It’s not like we’re the only team that had to deal with byes.”

Because the Class C state qualifier is consolidated into one meet covering teams from Fort Kent to Kittery, the meet is divided into “north” and “south” brackets that are aligned by seed rather than geography.

There are two championship finals and two consolation finals in each weight class. All eight wrestlers advance to the state meet.

Dirigo matched Foxcroft with four individual co-champions, all underclassmen: junior Caleb Hall (119 pounds) and sophomores Adam Gill (130), Webber (160) and Pepin (171).

Webber endured what was simultaneously the shortest and longest day of any Cougar. Thanks to the two free passes in his bracket, he was a spectator for almost six hours before needing only 31 seconds to pin Jay Folsom of Piscataquis in the final.

“I sat around all day,” Webber said. “I tried to run around and jump around before the final. I got a chance to watch my teammates and check out the competition. It has its ups and downs. Mostly downs.”

Hall and Pepin also pinned their opponents.

Gill outlasted Storme Macomber in a grueling bout that ended shy of the six-minute route by injury default.

“We were wearing each other down. He had a hurt shoulder. I just got dehydrated and it slowed me down a little bit, but I just tried to keep it strong,” Gill said. “I’ve got a good feeling about states. It builds my confidence a lot coming to regionals and taking it.”

Lisbon led all schools with six champions, earning those gold medals in a dizzying run through the first seven weight divisions.

Freshman Nick McNamara (103) got the Greyhounds started. His classmate, Zach Stevens, then whipped the Lisbon faithful into a frenzy by using a spladle — a tricky combination of a leg split and cradle — to upset junior David Sirois of Penobscot Valley.

“I was just trying to stay with him through the first period,” Stevens said.

Lisbon coach Mark Stevens — Zach’s father — dared to dream of five titles before Saturday’s meet. His son’s victory wasn’t in that mental picture.

“That kid (Sirois) is the real deal. He’s a good wrestler,” he said. “We’ve been working a lot on home run moves, which basically are big moves that are worth five points or more instead of singles and doubles.

Forrest Cornell (119), Josh Pomerleau (125), Mike McNamara (135) and Matt Nicholson (140) followed suit with convincing victories.

Pomerleau was the only one taken the distance in a major decision shutout of Dirigo’s Brett Whittemore.

“That’s alright. Sometimes you kind of have to do that,” Pomerleau said of Whittemore‘s conservative strategy. “I understand. I was kind of disappointed because last week in the finals I pinned him.”

The Greyhounds finished a close third with 167 points and almost kept pace with Dirigo by sending a double-digit number (10) to states.

“Team scores are not what matter today. It’s really about getting kids in the right spots for next week,” Mark Stevens said. “I don’t think we could have done any better today.”

Monmouth finished seventh out of 25 schools for its best regional finish in many years. The Mustangs produced two champions.

Eric Coulombe took down — quite literally — Josh Pelletier of Fort Kent at 145.

“He was really tall. Extremely tall,” Coulombe said. “I’m a simple wrestler. Go in there, lock up, take a shot and hope for the best. I definitely wouldn’t want to be standing up with him. He probably had a foot on me.”

Kyle Foyt-Bridges continued his stellar senior season in the 189-pound class, dispatching Foxcroft freshman Craig Chambers in nine seconds and inspiring one Mustangs fan to kid him, “What took you so long?”

“I was anxious to get it over with today because I’m a little tired,” Foyt-Bridges said. “I’ve won a few tournaments. This one means more.”

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