Maine wrestlers learned how strong the level of competition can be at the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championship this weekend.

Nearly a dozen Mainers advanced to the quarterfinal round after Friday’s first set of rounds, but despite the momentum, those same wrestlers received a dose of reality the next morning at the Providence Career and Technical Academy in Rhode Island.

One of the few bright spots for the Maine contingent was Cody Hughes of Marshwood, who lost a heart-breaking 2-1, triple overtime match in the 160-pound final. Hughes, a three-time state champion, placed third at 152 in the 2013 tournament.

The Hawks’ wrestler lost to Jon Viruet of Massachusetts. The two competitors ended regulation tied 1-1 and remained deadlocked following two extra sessions. Viruet scored the first-point, so he was awarded choice, and chose the defensive position. Hughes needed to maintain control on the mat for the 30-second period. With four seconds remaining, Viruet executed a standing escape to win it all.

Other local wrestlers found the going extremely difficult on the big stage.

Jake Thornton (126) of Mountain Valley lost his opening match in the 32- person bracket, and followed that by losing to Tyler Everett of Massabesic. Jesse Hutchinson (160) of Dirigo had a bye in to the round of 16, and lost to Richie Mills of New Hampshire. Hutchinson won a consolation match before bowing out.

Stuart Buzzell (145) of Monmouth, who had won two matches at New Englands last year, fell shy in the first round, as did Malik Geiger of Oxford Hills. The Vikings’ standout won the Maine qualifier at 170.

Wil Gunter of Mt. Blue lost a close match to John Lachowic of Massachusetts. Several Mainers were eliminated in consolation matches Saturday morning.

The strategy at New Englands doesn’t allow for feeling out an opponent, so the initial takedown is extremely important. A defensive style can be counterproductive.

Maine had four other medalists this year, including Peter DelGallo of Gardiner, who won a New England crown as a freshman. He earned fifth place with a 1-0 decision against Brad Beaulieu of Marshwood, who took sixth. Mike Curtis of Wells placed third at 195, and Jackson Howarth of Marshwood finished fifth at 152.

Marshwood was the highest ranking Maine team in seventh place.

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