NEWPORT — Fresh off a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship, the Oxford Hills wrestling team still had work to do Saturday afternoon at the Class A North regionals. Mt. Ararat/Brunswick, the KVAC runner-up, was getting back key wrestlers who didn’t compete last week, and the Vikings were far from a shoo-in.

Eitan Afriat, however, wasn’t worried at all.

“I loved our chances coming into today,” the Vikings’ 170-pounder said. “I knew that we’d win as long as our whole team put out what we have. As long as we play our ‘A’ game out there, there’s nobody out there for us.”

The confidence was warranted. Afriat and 195-pounder Dillon Worster earned individual titles, eight Oxford Hills wrestlers made the final, and the Vikings totaled 163.5 points to beat Mt. Ararat/Brunswick (154.5), Camden Hills (95), Skowhegan (78), Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook (75) and Cony (69).

“We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” said Afriat, who transferred to Maine from North Carolina for this year. “The whole team put in a lot of effort today.”

It’s Oxford Hills’ first regional title since 2007. Mt. Ararat/Brunswick momentarily pulled ahead of the Vikings during the championship finals, but Afriat’s and Worster’s victories, by 9-6 decision and pin, respectively, helped Oxford Hills regain the lead for good.


“I knew it would be tough. Ararat was missing a few kids last weekend, had them back this weekend, I knew they were going to be hard to beat this year,” Oxford Hills coach Tony Stevens said. “To win the tournament is a whole team effort. The whole team wrestled fantastic today.”

Mt. Ararat/Brunswick had the most individual titles of any team with four, getting them from Brycen Kowalsky (technical fall at 126), Dash Farrell (10-2, 132), Spencer LeClair (pin, 152) and Shea Farrell (12-1, 160). LeClair’s victory came after he missed KVACs with a knee injury, one that he said was still ailing him Saturday.

“It feels good (to win). I wasn’t actually expecting a pin, (Nokomis’s) Isaiah (Morin) is a really strong competitor,” he said. “It feels good to get it done and over with. I’m a little beat up right now, but I’m feeling great for next weekend. Can’t wait for it.”

Other individual champions included Cony’s Devin Geroux (pin, 106 pounds) and Jonny Lettre (withdrawal due to injury, 220), Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark (pin, 145) and Kobe Butters (5-3, 285), Camden Hills’ Julian Henderson (pin, 120) and Henry Pharris (11-4, 182), Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook’s Ayden Cofone (pin, 113) and Mt. Blue’s Stephen Galkowski (pin, 138). Galkowski’s win came 3:06 into the match after Oxford Hills’ Hunter Wormwood slipped out of two potential pins, and gave the freshman a victory in his first regional final.

“I think I had a pretty good day,” Galkowski said. “First year of high school, it’s a lot different than middle school. And with that big break in between, it was fine. … I’ve come out pretty lucky this year.”

For some of the wrestlers, Saturday was a chance to pick up where they left off. There were five 2019 champions still in the field in Camden Hills’s Henderson, Skowhegan’s Clark, Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Shea Farrell and LeClair and Oxford Hills’ Worster, and all five finished the day as champions again, each having earned titles in heavier weight classes than before.


Camden Hills’ Julian Henderson battles with Lawrence’s Colby Nadeau in the Class A North 120 pound wrestling championships Saturday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Just being able to have a tournament without a season last year, it’s great to be back in the same position and be able to take it home again,” Henderson said.

“I really like this,” Clark said. “This is the time of season that I enjoy the most.”

In 2019, those five as freshmen and sophomores had been able to slip under the radar. On Saturday, it was a different story.

“Two years ago I was a freshman, and going into the season I didn’t know what to expect,” Henderson said. “You’ve got so much to lose (now). When you’re unknown like that first year, I was just there to have fun and win. Now there is a little pressure with being that (No.) 1 seed and meeting expectations.”

Not all of the returning champions felt that weight. Shea Farrell said he tries not to let expectations enter his mind when he’s on the mat.

“I try to leave all the talking to other people,” he said. “I just focus on what I can do, and I try not to hold myself to anyone else’s standards other than what I can personally do. I think everyone should try to do that.”


Different classes have presented a challenge.

“It’s definitely different. I’m pretty tall, compared to (my opponents), so everyone has more muscle mass than me at 120,” Henderson said. “It’s so much harder to turn, and everyone is that much faster, quicker, stronger. … (I have) to score first. If I can score first, I know I’m in control of the match.”

Farrell said he’s tried to diversify who he trains against to get accustomed to finding an advantage in different ways.

“It’s a little more physical as well,” he said. “In practice, I try to wrestle lower-weight kids, which are faster, and heavier-weight kids, which are slower but stronger. As I’ve kind of grown into my body, I think it’s naturally happened.”

Clark said the difference in the field stood out as much as the difference in the style.

“(At) 120 two years ago, there were the top two kids and there wasn’t much else at the weight,” he said. “Now, 145, there’s a lot of top-notch kids at the weight. (It’s) probably the most stacked weight class in the state, if you ask me.”

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