Every high school sport has its catch phrase or t-shirt slogan.

Many of them mean a whole lot of nothing. But a precious few, like the one that occasionally echoes off the walls at Lisbon wrestling practice, capture the essence of a program.

“Champions come in pairs,” senior Mike McNamara repeated Saturday in the aftermath of his 135-pound regional title, one of six captured by the Greyhounds in the meet against statewide competition at Jay High School.

At Lisbon, those words easily could be a reference to the countless brother combinations that Mark Stevens has shepherded in his coaching career.

Or it could acknowledge any two of the Greyhounds’ seven Class C state championships in the last 10 years.

In its current context, that one-liner celebrates the practice philosophy that helped Lisbon land a staggering six regional titles at 140 pounds and under.


Mike and Nick McNamara, Zach Stevens, Forrest Cornell, Josh Pomerleau and Matt Nicholson all climbed to the top step of the medal stand in Saturday’s competition at Jay High School.

“We had a lot of heavyweights last year,” said Nicholson, the 140-pound regional champion. “Everybody’s stepped up. We know we have to show the younger kids what to do.”

Lisbon’s total domination of the lower weight classes comes from both ends of the age and experience spectrum.

Cornell (119 pounds), Pomerleau (125), Mike McNamara (135) and Nicholson are seniors. Nick McNamara (103) and Zach Stevens (112) are freshmen.

As training partners, Lisbon’s sensational six carry that maxim about pairs to its logical and most productive conclusion.

When it’s time to hit the practice mat, the younger McNamara brother locks up with the second-generation Stevens. Cornell grapples with Pomerleau. Mike McNamara and Nicholson go head-to-head.


“It’s just like having a tough match every day. Four tough matches every day, really, because we all wrestle each other,” Nicholson said. “Forrest and Josh have been practice partners since freshman year, and they’re probably the two hardest-working people we have.”

The proof sits in the school’s trophy case and on the respective home mantelpieces of the wrestlers in question.

Next Saturday at Augusta Civic Center, Cornell will aim to become the first four-time state champion in Lisbon history. Mike McNamara seeks his third consecutive crown.

Pomerleau and Nicholson also have their eyes on a repeat.

“My brother and Zach Stevens, practice partners, both won,” Mike McNamara said after the regional. “Forrest and Josh, practice partners, both won. Matt and I, practice partners, both won. It helps a lot having someone push you every single day, even though the other person knows exactly what you’re going to do.”

What the McNamara brothers don’t gain from those intense, two-hour team workouts every weekday, they’ve been getting at home for years.


“He beats me,” Nick McNamara said of his older brother, an all-region football linebacker. “I look up to Michael. He’s good. He’s one of the best in the state. It’s kind of like having a personal coach in my house.”

Mike returned the kind words, even if he had to muster up a little brotherly reluctance.

“I think it’s cool. We’re only going to have one year together in sports, and he didn’t play football this year,” he said. “He’s definitely going to be a successful wrestler. He’s going to be better than I am. It’s hard to say that. It kind of makes me mad that he has to know. But he’s going to be good. Real talented. He has it mentally too. He thinks he can win.”

Mark Stevens has seen his share of potent pairs and titanic trios in his tenure.

Himself a former Lisbon wrestler, Stevens has coached not only the McNamara brothers but three Cornell siblings and the Bubar, Stambach, Clark and Giusto brethren, just to name a few.

“It’s a family thing in Lisbon. That’s what I love about it,” said the coach. “Iron sharpens iron. That’s always been our philosophy.”


Name recognition and family connections alone won’t win another state trophy.

Foxcroft and Dirigo each finished ahead of Lisbon at the regional. Stevens also believes Dexter will be in the mix next Saturday.

To win it all, Lisbon’s three pairs might need to come up aces and go 6-for-6 again. If anyone’s up for that challenge, it’s the Greyhounds.

“We don’t have many people,“ Cornell said, “but the people we do have, they have heart.”


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