AUGUSTA — Mt. Blue’s hopes for its first regional wrestling titles in six years rested firmly on the broad shoulders of Joey Metcalf in the 215-pound final Saturday. So the Cougars held their collective breath when they saw the junior nearly flat on his back nearly a about into the match.

“It was more than my heart (in my throat),” Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor said.

“I was thinking ‘Oh my God, this is so tight. How the heck am I gonna get out of here?” Metcalf said.

Metcalf turned the tables on Victor Irwin, flipping the Bangor sophomore and ultimately pinning him at 1:22 to give the Cougars the Eastern Class A championship by 4 1/2 points at Cony High School.

“Joey has done that this year. He’s got brute strength and he just hates to lose,” O’Connor said.

Metcalf, a regional and state runner-up for Cony last year, transferred to Mt. Blue this year and doesn’t hide his feelings about the move.

“I’m kind of liking Mt. Blue a little better than Cony,” he said. “It was nice to kind of rub it in the coach’s face here.”

“He moved to us and it’s a different environment,” O’Connor said.  “The team has accepted him as one of their own and he’s grown into an honorary captain at the end of the year.”

Mt. Blue, which trailed Westbrook by 3 1/2 points heading into the finals, finished with 172 points, Westbrook with 167 1/2. Skowhegan (133), Brewer (116 1/2) and Mt. Ararat (115 1/2) rounded out the top five.

“All of my number one seeds won,” O’Connor said. “It’s hard to say how things are going to go (going into the tournament), especially where we don’t see Westbrook all year. We had Skowhegan on our tail, and they’ve been coming on fire, so I was kind of scared about them and really unsure about Westbrook. They ended up working really hard. It came right down to the end.”

“Coming down the the end, it means more when it’s a hard-fought battle than if it’s a gift,” he added. “It was a total team effort today. I just wish we’d had my senior, Matt Archer.”

Archer, one of the top heavyweights in the state, has been out for the season since having a torn labrum in his shoulder surgically repaired last month. But the Cougars’ other 13 wrestlers rallied to place seven in the finals and one in the consolation finals.

Sophomore Khalil Newbill won his second straight regional crown, pinning Skowhegan’s John Swett with 10 seconds left in the match. Going back to the KVAC championships, Newbill has pinned all six opponents he’s faced in the post-season.

Kevin Moore was the third Cougar to claim a regional title, pinning Anthony Sprigg of Brewer at 3:52.

“I’ve wrestled him a lot before, all through last year and all through this season,” Moore said. “I knew it was going to be a brawl right from the start. He tries to throw me, I try to throw him. We basically just go on until one of us sticks the other, until one of us just can’t go anymore.”

“Kevin Moore’s match was a really big match for us,” O’Connor said. “It kind of psyched up the team.”

Daniel Reed (103), Nicholas Hyde (119), Drew Blanchet (135) and Caleb Farrington (160) were the Cougars’ other finalists. Chris Ingram (152) narrowly won his consolation final against Windham’s Johnny Weymouth, 2-1.

Two Edward Little wrestlers qualified for the state championships next Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Conner Murphy (119) and Sheldon Bang (125) finished fourth of their respective weight classes.

Murphy fell to Felipe Gunter of Mt. Ararat, 6-4, although he didn’t quite see it that way.

“I could have gotten third but the ref had a bad call. I’ve got it on video,” Murphy said. “The last 10 or 15 seconds I got (Gunter) in a head and arm (throw) and got him on his back, but the ref didn’t see it and I didn’t get the points. I’m happy to get to states.”


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