RUMFORD — There has been a great emphasis placed on the performance of individuals in wrestling, but it still requires a team effort to produce a team victory.

Dirigo proved that at at the 27th annual McDonald’s-Mountain Valley Invitational on Saturday

The Cougars’ depth and their 10 medalists were enough to score 162 points in winning their first-ever championship. Fryeburg (153.5) finished second for the second-straight last year.

The wire-to-wire triumph certainly wasn’t easy for Dirigo, which is the second Class C school to win tournament. Lisbon won twice. The Cougars squandered a double-digit lead during the consolation and championship finals which were held simultaneously on two mats. Individual championships were won by Caleb Hall (132-pounds) and Nelson Pepin (170) who actually clinched the team title, while Eric Holman and Justin Baldinelli each placed third at 113 and 145, respectively.

Noble, two-time defending champions, finished third (121.5), followed by Belfast (112) and host Mountain Valley 85. The Falcons were led by champions Brandon Gill (126) and Joe Provencher at 138.

“We came in here thinking if every one wrestled up to their seeds then a fourth place,” said Hall, who executed a series of pinning moves in a 15-0 technical fall against Anthony Sprigg of Brewer. “I think we showed that collectively that as a team we can hang with any one.”

Fryeburg was led by champions Connor Sheehan (113), Zac Sheehan (120), Jake Thurston (145) and Kirk Hubbard at 152.

“I tell the kids that it doesn’t always matter where you start, but how you finish,” Fryeburg coach Bryce Thurston said. “We want the kids to be fresh and work hard, but they need to be consistent.”

In the head-to-head finals match, Hubbard scored a takedown at the end of regulation and then pinned D.J. Webber of Dirigo in overtime. Two matches later Pepin was tied 2-2 and eventually clinched when Ethan Fitzuris of Belfast (dislocated elbow injury) defaulted.

“Of the 13 wrestlers, we put 12 in the tournament,” Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert said. “The semifinal round is big (six wins), but in a tournament like this you need kids to wrestle back for thirds and fourth.”

Connor Sheehan, defending Class B state champion, had raced out to a 9-0 lead before pinning Mountain Valley freshman Dekota Jacques.

“I work on my wrestling a lot,” Sheehan said. “I like tilts because that’s where you can score points and I really benefit by having my brother Zac for a practice partner. We really push each other.”

Zac, a freshman, voted tournament most outstanding wrestler, executed two late takedowns in a 7-3 decision against 2010 champion Nick McNamara of Lisbon. Mountain Valleys Nicole Burgess (106) was stuck by Bill Gagner of Noble in the final.

Gill also a freshman, had a full strategy in mind and stuck Walker Roberts of Belfast, while Provencher followed up by showing the lights to Brett Whittemore of Dirigo.

“I felt pretty good except for having to ice my shoulder,” said Gill, who had decisioned Matt York of Fryeburg in a tough SF match. “I knew (Roberts) was weak in the neutral position, so I took (the offensive) in the second period and turned him over.”

“That was big,” Provencher said, regarding a reversal to go up 4-0 late in second period. “I knew there was no four-point move.”

Lisbon’s Zach Stevens third at 126, while Connor Murphy (120) and Shawn Bang (160) of Edward Little each placed fourth.

Oxford Hills, dead last a year ago, scored 37 points led by Bill Leahy (285). Jared Jensen of Brunswick won by injury default over Thomas Barnett of Dirigo at 160.

Joe Provencher, top, of Mountain Valley wrestles Curtis Warren of Belfast during a 138-pound match at Mountain Valley High School during the McDonald’s Invitational in Rumford on Saturday. Provencher won by pin.

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