WALES — Wrestling is one of the few scholastic sports that allow a brother and sister to compete on the same stage.

It’s still a rarity, however, since boys make up the majority of combatants on the high school mat. And you would be hard pressed to find any more accomplished sibling combination than Danny and Zoe Buteau.

“I inherited them tough,” Oak Hill coach Ric Swett said. “When they were in sixth and seventh grade, they were already established as well-worn in the sport. Some kids are just cut from a different mold.”

Danny, a junior, is a two-time Class B state champion at 106 pounds. He’s the fourth wrestler in Oak Hill history to win a title and the only Raider to earn multiple gold medals at the state meet.

On the heels of a middle school girls’ national championship in 2015, Zoe already has a dozen wins in her rookie high school varsity campaign.

They’ve been serious about the sport since elementary school — third grade for Danny, second grade for Zoe — and we do mean serious. The family’s luggage already has spent time in a double-digit number of states.


Zoe traveled to Texas in pursuit of the freestyle championship at the end of her eighth grade year.

“It was really challenging, especially being away from my family for the first time, without my mom and my dad and my brothers by my side,” she said. “They were able to watch on TV.”

Danny spent this past summer competing with Maine select squads in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Nebraska.

“People get a lot better in summer because Maine isn’t the best wrestling state,” he said. “When you go to meets and tournaments out of state, it’s only good kids. That’s where most people get better. If you don’t push yourself, you’re not going to get better at all.”

Swett nearly had the fabulous fortune of coaching three Buteaus at once.

Older brother Levi, a senior, was a two-way star on Oak Hill’s three football state championship teams. The nagging injuries from those title runs ended his wrestling career prior to his junior season.


The two brothers were the first to catch wrestling fever, in a manner probably not unlike many boys of a certain age.

“We used to watch wrestling on TV,” Danny said. “My mom asked us if we wanted to wrestle, and me and Levi were like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ Then we got to it and obviously it wasn’t like we saw on TV, but we kind of got attached to it.”

Rather than merely tag along, Zoe jumped into the fray a year later.

Girls have competed in Maine high school wrestling since the mid-1990s, when Lisa Nowak of Mt. Ararat broke the gender barrier. And yes, if you’re wondering, there is still stigma involved in being “beaten by a girl.”

“Last year one of the guys I wrestled stormed off the mat, crying,” Zoe said. “They’re not so much like that this year.”

She smiled, because she can relate to the feeling. Zoe doesn’t like losing to anyone.


“When I wrestle girls it’s more emotional, because it’s like, ‘Oh, I just lost to a girl.’ Losing to a boy is emotional for a girl, too, because it’s harder,” Zoe said. “The guys are a lot stronger in my weight class. Being a girl, it’s a lot harder, because we have to rely more on skill than strength. Guys if they’ve been wrestling for a long time, they’re got the skill and the strength.”

Danny has encountered a stronger physical challenge this season, moving up from 106 pounds — often the domain of freshmen and sophomores — to 120.

“I’m wrestling better kids. Peter Del Gallo (of Gardiner), Caleb Austin (of Mountain Valley), they’re stronger, better technical wrestlers,” he said.

Swett said he “fully expects” Buteau to win a third state title, which would give him half the individual championships Oak Hill has earned in nearly 40 years as a program.

“He reached the 100-win career mark just before Christmas. He’s certainly early on it. He’s won just about every opportunity he gets,” the coach added. “He’s come up two weight classes and is still winning, and winning tougher matches.”

Zoe is currently out with a broken nose. Swett hopes that she will able to return, with proper protective equipment, in time for the conference, regional and state meets.

Her long-term goal is to be a trailblazer and win a title against predominantly male competition.

“At this school that’s probably the first set of kids we’ve had that came in with some credence and pushed it,” Swett said. “They’ve wrestled well beyond the limits we have with a finite season, November through February. They’ve actually wrestled through the summer. It pays off.”

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