After a one-year hiatus, Maine’s high school wrestling community will converge at the Augusta Civic Center for the state wrestling championships on Saturday.

Not much has changed since the last time the championships were held there. In 2009, six schools successfully extended their decade of dominance. This Saturday, the same half-dozen  — Belfast, Camden Hills, Lisbon, Massabesic, Mountain Valley and Noble — are once again the favorites to win their respective classes.

The great programs have a great deal in common. All have had stability in the coaching ranks. All have exceptional feeder programs and community support.

“With our program, it’s having the youth coaches, middle school coaches and high school coaches all on the same page,” Mountain Valley coach Gary Dolloff said. “

Adding to the continuity is the seemingly steady stream of brothers and sisters who follow each other through a program. Arguably, in no high school sport is the term “family” more appropriately applied.

The dominant schools may have entrenched philosophies and ethos, but that doesn’t mean they instill their wrestlers with secrets to success. All of them keep it fairly simple, according to Lisbon coach Mark Stevens.

“I think the common theme is for the two-hour training periods we have every day, we work hard,” Stevens said. “We don’t focus on fancy moves. We focus on the basics.”

“Just to be mentioned among those other schools is quite an honor, actually,” Stevens said. “Those guys have decades of tradition.”

Lisbon packed decades worth of tradition into one decade, winning seven state Class C championships between 2001 and 2010.

The Greyhounds will try for their fourth consecutive crown Saturday with 10 wrestlers, including 2010 state champions Forrest Cornell (119), Mike McNamara (135) and Matt Nicholson (140). Cornell is seeking his fourth state title, McNamara his third.

Foxcroft Academy, which broke up Lisbon’s run with back-to-back crowns in 2004 and 2005 and won last week’s regional qualifier, also has 10 wrestlers competing on Saturday. Dirigo, last week’s runner-up, trumps them both with 13 qualifiers, including top contenders Caleb Hall (119), Adam Gill (130) and D.J. Webber (160). Prior to their rebuilding year last year, the Cougars had finished first or second in Class C in each of the previous four years. Saturday could be the start of another strong run.

Monmouth Academy will send a contingent of six, including 2010 champion Eric Coulombe (145) and Class C regional winner Kyle Foyt-Bridges (189).

Three schools have dominated Class B since 2000 — Camden Hills, Mountain Valley and Belfast. The champion and runner-up have come from those three each of the last 11 years. Including 2005, when Camden Hills and Mountain Valley were co-champions, Camden has won eight state titles, Mountain Valley two and Belfast two.

The Falcons are sending 12 wrestlers to Augusta, led by Western B champions Ryan Burgess (112), Cody Magoon (125), Josh Thornton (145), Taylor Carey (171), Josh Allen (189), Christian Durland (215) and Ryan Glover (285). Burgess and Thornton were state champions in 2010. Burgess is trying for his third title.

Eastern B champion and 2010 state champion Camden Hills qualified 13 wrestlers for Saturday, runner-up Belfast 11.

Saturday’s meet will be Dolloff’s last as Mountain Valley coach, but he insists the Falcons have much more to motivate them.

“Camden is our rival,” he said. “We get cranked up to beat Camden in anything, whether it’s a dual meet or the state championship.”

Dolloff said his team is peaking at the right time.

“What we have to do to walk out with a state championship is get pins, but also wrestle to our seeds and get extra points as we go,” he added. “We are working our tails off for this. If we wrestle like we did at Western Maines, we will win this.”

Oak Hill qualified six wrestlers for Saturday, including Western B champion Keith Madore (140).

 Once again, the power in Class A rests in the West. Noble is seeking its third straight state title and 11th in the last 13 years. Only Massabesic (1998, 2007, 2008) has stood between the Knights and the crown.

Noble won Western A last week and qualified wrestlers in all 14 weight classes. Runner-up Massabesic and Marshwood are sending 13 to Augusta. Eastern A champion Mt. Blue qualified eight wrestlers, including regional champions Khalil Newbill (112), Kevin Moore (125), and Joey Metcalf (215).

Conner Murphy (119) and Sheldon Bang (125) will represent Edward Little.


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