AUGUSTA — It stands to reason that Noble has used many different methods to win 11 of the last 13 Class A state wrestling championships.

Number 11 will be hard to duplicate, though.

The Knights crowned just one individual champion, and did that in about the narrowest fashion possible, yet still won its third consecutive team title going away Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

Noble (181.5), Marshwood (126), Massabesic (113), Westbrook (75) and Mt. Ararat (67.5) comprised the top five. Mt. Blue (60.5) finished sixth.

The Knights’ depth won out, with five wrestlers reaching the finals and 11 of the 14 they sent to Augusta placing.

Their only champion was Ben Valencia, who pulled off a miracle finish. Valencia trailed Skowhegan’s Kaleb Austin, 5-3, when he flipped Austin for a pin with four seconds remaining in the bout.

“I wrestled his pace and he got the better of me for the first two (periods),” Valencia said.

“At the beginning of the third, I really had no motivation at all. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win it,” he said. “I just started thinking about how I won states last year and how all of our other returning state champs hadn’t won (Saturday) and it just gave me a little extra boost.”

Eastern Maine champion Mt. Blue’s hopes for a stronger showing were undermined by a virus that leveled the team during the week.

“We had seven out of eight guys sick all week,” Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor said. “They gutted it out today. Some of them came in with hardly any practice under their belt all week.”

None of the Cougars reached the finals but five placed — consolation round winners Khalil Newbill (112) and Joey Metcalf (215) and fourth-place finishers Nicholas Hyde (119), Kevin Moore (125) and Drew Blanchet (135).

Newbill and Metcalf were top seeds Saturday.

“I figured our gas tank would be really, really small today just because we had no wind from being sick,” O’Connor said. “That did carry on. But a lot of the guys’ matches didn’t end in pins. They went the full three periods, and that’s the true heart of a champion. They gutted it out when they could have given up.”

“I think we learned some stuff out of it and will carry it in to next year,” he added. “No one is hanging their heads today.”

The Cougars should benefit from the learning experience next year. They won’t be losing anyone off the state tournament roster.

“We’re not going to rebuild for next year. We’re going to reload,” O’Connor said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.