Jayda Stevens is surrounded by Oxford Hills teammates after winning the 120-pound weight class at the girls’ state wrestling tournament Wednesday at Windham High. Stevens was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Kevin Thomas/Portland Press Herald

WINDHAM — Jayda Stevens was trailing 11-2 in her championship match in the 120-pound weight class at the high school girls wrestling state tournament Wednesday at Windham High School.

Stevens, a senior at Oxford Hills, had almost been pinned by Camden Hills senior Kristina Kelly early in the second period.

Oxford Hills senior Jayda Stevens won a state championship and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler on Wednesday at Windham High School Kevin Thomas/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

“I guess it didn’t kick in that I wanted it more until I looked up at that scoreboard and I realized I needed to get my butt up,” Stevens said. “I did, and I seized the opportunity. I hit that switch.”

Stevens recovered with a vengeance, almost pinning Kelly later in the second period, then getting the pin in the third period.

“It’s my senior year and it’s all I wanted,” Stevens said. “I never won first place. (Kelly) beat me last year, and this was my last meet.”

Stevens not only avenged last year’s loss to Kelly in the 113-pound class, but was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. She won two earlier matches to reach the championship round, including a tough 6-4 victory over Mt. View’s Hailey Wood.

The tournament, in its second year, drew a field of 56 wrestlers in nine weight classes. Some girls get to wrestle often during the season while competing against boys, such as Falmouth’s Anunthaya MacDonnell, who went 19-11 during the season. Others didn’t get a chance to compete at all, or did so rarely, like Camden Hills freshman Emma Vydas, who had one regular-season match.

Anunthaya MacDonnell of Falmouth became the first two-time champion at the girls’ state wrestling championships. Kevin Thomas photo

Both Vydas (106 pounds) and MacDonnell (113) won state championships. MacDonnell became the first two-time state champion, having won the 120-pound division last year. Her new weight class resulted from a lifestyle change.

“Last year, I had trouble making weight, so over the summer I began running more and having a more monitored diet,” MacDonnell said.

MacDonnell also received the Sportsmanship Award. She earned a 9-0 decision in the semifinals, then was ahead 6-0 in the final when she pinned Izzy Lamb of Washington Academy at the 2-minute, 18-second mark.

“This (tournament) is a great opportunity for all female wrestlers to come together,” MacDonnell said. “There’s high competition and low pressure. It’s a really fun tournament. A lot of girls should try it.”

Vydas was happy to get on the mat. She officially had a 3-1 record for the Camden Hills boys team, but the three wins were by forfeit. She won her semifinal with a first-period pin, then took on Skowhegan’s Emma Shaw, who finished third last year and had 43 matches this season (19-24 record). With two takedowns, Vydas took a 4-1 lead into the third period, and she held on for a 5-4 victory.

Her win capped an impressive day for Camden Hills, which entered five wrestlers and had two runner-up finish and two third-place results in addition to Vydas’ championship.

Camden Hills freshman Emma Vydas was the champion at 106 pounds. Kevin Thomas photo

“Not bad when they all place at the state championship,” said Camden Hills coach Pat Kelly, who noticed a difference in this year’s tournament. “I see it growing more in the quality of the wrestling than necessarily the numbers right now. The quality is getting better every year.”

Skowhegan also placed three girls in the finals and won two titles. Rachel Tuck defeated Mt. View’s Emma Fonger in the 132-pound class, 8-2, and Elizabeth Trask earned a 7-2 decision over Emily Wiggin of Cheverus at 182.

Mountain Valley’s Donna Arsenault fell via pin in the 145-pound final to Nokomis’ Madeline Tardiff in 2:39.

Old Town’s Kloee Moore pinned defending 160-pound champion Elizabeth Bernier of Bucksport in 4:48.

Two other championship matches ended in pins: Taylor Bridges of Washington Academy (138) over Nina Fantini of Camden Hills in 2:24, and Deja Douglas of Morse (220) over Sanford’s Tiffani Stevens in 2:24.

NOTE: The Most Outstanding Wrestler Award is named after Lisa Nowak, the first female high school wrestler in Maine (Mt. Ararat, 1995-99) and a member of the New England Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame. Nowak was in attendance Wednesday to present the award to Stevens.


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