Massabesic fans and coaches react after Dominick Bubar, bottom right, defeats Portland/So. Portland’s Hussein Ali for the 165-pound title at the Class A wrestling championships in Augusta in February. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The 2025 Maine Principals’ Association state wrestling championships will once again be under one roof.

That roof will be The Colisee in Lewiston on Feb. 15. It will be the first time the Class A and B state championships will be held at the same place since 2011, when the Augusta Civic Center hosted the event.

“All the coaches and wrestlers kind of miss having that atmosphere of having a big tournament with six mats down and watching all the wrestling that’s going on,” Oxford Hills Coach Tony Stevens said.

Edward Little Coach Ben Madigan remembers the thrill of wrestling in front of a large crowd at the state championships when he competed for Mountain Valley High School.

“When I wrestled in the early 2000s, the state of Maine held a combined state championship at the Augusta Civic Center, and the next year, they had it at the Bangor Auditorium – everything was combined,” Madigan said. “You had a maximum amount of fans watching, and as a competitor, it was really exciting format.”

The Colisee won’t be the only arena hosting a marquee high school wrestling meet in 2025 – the Class A and B North regionals will be the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Feb. 8.

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“It’s something the wrestling community has pushed for quite a while, trying to get those back in one place,” said Mountain Valley Athletic Director Jeffrey Pelletier, a member of the MPA wrestling committee. “It’s a huge step forward for wrestling.”

With many of the larger venues hosting state basketball tournaments on the same weekend as state wrestling, the MPA looked at different options for a larger venue until The Colisee stepped up.

“With our basketball tournament, there are not many available venues,” said Michael Bisson, MPA’s assistant executive director. “We reached out and did some exploring – would we need to change dates or whatever – and The Colisee was open to trying to host wrestling there.”

The Cross Insurance Center also offered its space for the North regionals.

“When we were having those conversations, the Cross Insurance Center said, ‘You know what, the years we don’t have cheering on that weekend of your regionals, we might be able to host something,’ ” Bisson said. “They threw something out, and we thought we would explore that as well, with the A and B North regionals.”

There are plans to find a venue for South regionals in the future.

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The continually growing state girls’ individual wrestling tournament will be held at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington on Feb. 18.

“I think the high school venue is perfect right now,” Bisson said. “There is some talk about integrating the girls into the state championship with the boys, but the concern people have is now the girls would have to choose between the girls championship and the boys championship. I am not sure we want to eliminate opportunities for girls at this point and time. With the number of girls wrestlers, I don’t believe a large venue is currently needed. You want it to be full – you don’t want it to be in an empty stadium.”

Mt. Ararat will host the New England qualifier on Feb. 21. Bisson said high schools are the perfect size for that tournament.

Competing in large venues makes the regional and state championships a big-time event for the student-athletes.

“Those big events, you want to celebrate as many kids as you can with as many fans,” Bisson said. “If you can put six mats and fill a place with spectators and can complete your championship in a reasonable amount of time – sometimes you get into a venue that’s not big enough, and you get held up time-wise – it’s just a better experience if you can get into that larger facility.”

The plan is to have three Class A matches and three Class B matches happening at a time during the state championships at The Colisee.

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If one tournament falls behind schedule and there’s an open mat, it can be utilized to try to get back on track.

Stevens said a bigger venue allows wrestlers to establish and maintain a rhythm.

“If you have a lot of downtime, you kind of can lose focus, but if you can keep the flow going through the day, you keep the same routine, warmed up and ready to go,” Stevens said.

The Class B meet this past year at Mountain Valley ran into some issues, mainly due to being short a mat.

“We were running only two mats instead of three,” Pelletier said. “There were some things that were kind of out of our control. But I don’t think that played into the move – I think this is a separate deal.”

Bisson confirms the MPA was looking into larger venues, but added issues at the Class B tournament sped up the process.

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“Yes and no,” Bisson said. “We were already exploring options, but that gave us a little more drive just to continue to pursue. We do our annual due diligence on what our options are. It probably gave us a little more motivation to try to find something.”

Bisson said going to one venue for states will cut down on expenses, since only one site director will be needed. Updating brackets online – using FloWrestling – also will be smoother.

“The big thing is, there’s more room for spectators, and there will be more spectators because people are going to be excited to watch all the wrestling in the state at one time,” Pelletier said. “Logistically, it’s one site you have to plan and all that. As far as running the two tournaments at the same time, the move to use FloWrestling this year to run our tournaments will make that part easier. That’s a streamlined process, and it will take a lot of computer work out of it.”

Madigan said the location also is an advantage.

“I think Lewiston-Auburn is a nice central location, for at least the majority of the teams in the state of Maine,” Madigan said. “To have it at a place like this, where there’s plenty of accommodations for teams that have to travel long distances and have to stay in a hotel – that’s all right here.”

Madigan has been involved with growing wrestling in Lewiston-Auburn – he started the Auburn Youth Wrestling Club in 2018 and became the head coach for Edward Little’s first high school season this past winter. He said having the state’s best wrestlers competing at the highest level in the community is huge for the sport locally.

“I have been trying to grow the sport of wrestling in the Lewiston-Auburn area for six, seven years now, and I think it’s a good opportunity to grow it and increase the awareness of the sport in this community,” he said.

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