Kaden Paaso of Mountain Valley High School wrestles Brock Bernard of Lisbon/Oak Hill in Rumford earlier this month. Paaso won the msatch. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

There are a number of reasons why Mountain Valley coach Garry Dolloff wants the Falcons’ wrestling team to relocate to the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

“That would be a nice move for us,” he said. “It would be more competition as far as teams to go against, and we would have a schedule built by the KVAC instead of trying to find one every year.”

According to Mountain Valley athletic director Jeff Pelletier, the wrestling team has always been a part of the Mid-State League.

“It still technically exists with Mountain Valley, Dirigo, Monmouth/Richmond, Madison and Lisbon/Oak Hill,” Pelletier said. “But many of those programs are low on numbers. So I asked about joining the KVAC this year but was turned down. They did however build us into a couple of dual meets, which was nice.

“The Mid-State League no longer holds a conference tournament because it was turned into brackets of two or three wrestlers in each weight class. We are going to host all of the Mid-State League teams on Jan. 28 and have multiple duals.”

But while other teams are competing in their respective league championships before the state wrestling regionals, Dolloff is searching for competition inside and outside the state of Maine for his Falcons (6-3).


“We put feelers out to get into the KVACs,” he said. “We were told that we couldn’t, but we have picked up some KVAC meets, but we won’t be in the (KVAC) tournament. But I am trying to fill that spot this year, but it is tough on the kids because you are trying to peak at the right time and that’s the week before regionals.

“There is a bunch of teams out there with no league. It is one week that we don’t have anybody to wrestle, so I am trying to gather some of those (teams) up and just do a dual meet and something similar to that.”

Even though they don’t have a conference meet, the Falcons will be wrestling in regionals and trying to qualify for states.

Dolloff said his freshmen and sophomore wrestlers have improved and become a experienced group along the way.

“They are starting to figure it out, and you can see it,” Dolloff said. “Every time they walk onto the mat, they are getting better and better.”

He said junior Lucas Libby continues to shine this season, but Zach Putnam, who wrestles at the 145-pound class, is out for the rest of the year with a knee and shoulder injury.


Dolloff said junior Nate Gamache continues to show potential in the 138-pound class. 

Dolloff added that 182-pounder Kaden Paaso is only in his second year of wrestling, but he is performing above his experience level. On Saturday, Paaso, a junior, reached the finals of Cheverus’ Zeb Leavitt Invitational.

“He put a lot of hard work in the last couple of years catching up to everybody else who have been wrestling for a long time,” Dolloff said.

Paaso was one of five Falcons to reach the finals Saturday. Lucas Libby won the 152-pound class, while Paaso, Chance Watson (113 lbs.), Miles Smith (126), Gamache (138) and Paaso (182) each placed second in their respective weight classes.


The Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook co-op keeps chugging along and has built a 12-2 record. According to coach John Nicholas, Gray-NG’s Brody Simpson recently prevailed in the 160-pound class with a victory at the Cheverus tournament.


But the Wolfpack’s Ayden Cofone remains undefeated and collect two tournament victories and made it to the finals in another tourney.

Nicholas lauded the efforts of a few other Windham/Gray-NG/Westbrook wrestlers.

“Gavin Tanner has only two losses and has won two tournaments and been in the finals of another,” Nicholas said. “Scott Ingalls has won two tournaments and is approaching his 100th career win.”

Tanner and Ingalls each one their weight divisions — 170 and 182, respectively — on Saturday.


The Dirigo Cougars’ crop of freshmen and sophomores continue to delight the coaching staff, which includes head coach Bryce Whittemore, Gunnar Bradbury, Bob McPhee, Ethan Boucher and Nate Boucher.


“Dirigo fills 10 of the 14 weight classes and seven of those are freshmen, one sophomore and two juniors,” Whittemore said.

He said that so far the Cougars have have two large tournaments called off due to weather and have only competed in three dual meets and four tournaments.

“We are 3-0 in our dual meet competition and nearly won the Nokomis tournament only losing by 2.5 points,” Whittemore said. “In the rest of the tournaments, we have finished middle of the pack — which, with seven freshmen starting, is a great accomplishment.

Belfast, with 89.5 points, won the Nokomis Warrior Clash on Jan. 7. Dirigo finished with 87 points.

Whittemore said that the Cougars’ upperclassmen have had strong starts to the season.

“Our two juniors, Isaiah Bradeen and Eli Lindus, are wrestling well, with Eli having the more consistent start in a tough 126-weight class. Andrew Wisecup continues to gain confidence and is one of the tougher 285 wrestlers,” Whittemore said.


Wisecup won his weight class at the Warrior Clash.

Freshman Tanner Bradeen has faced some stiff competition this season in the 152-pound weight class.

“His fifth-place finish at the tough Noble tournament said it all,” Whittemore said. “He went in unranked and beat the No. 5 and 6 seeds. Not yet considered one of the top five in his weight class, but (it) certainly should be a goal of his.”

Tanner Bradeen and Isaiah Bradeen (220 lbs.) each made the finals at the Zeb Leavitt tournament Saturday.

Whittemore said that the success of this year’s team has been a result of the wrestlers’ dedication.

“What the coaches like about this season is how hard the wrestlers work in practice and buy into what the program has to do to be successful,” he said. “We feel that with such a young team we are competing very well and the future is extremely bright with a very successful middle school team feeding the high school team each year.”

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