Sunday, March 9, 2014
BY TERRY DEVEREAUX
The high school wrestling championship season begins this weekend, when the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Mid-State League hold championships tournaments Saturday.
The KVAC tournament is the largest wrestling conference in the state, with 21 teams competing. Locally, Erskine, Gardiner, Maine Central Institute, Mt. View, Mt. Blue, Nokomis, Skowhegan and Winslow will join host Cony at Cony High School in Augusta. The meet kicks off at 9:30 a.m.
A team championship is awarded for the top-scoring team in Class A and Class B. Mt. View coach Hamilton Richards feels that a talented Skowhegan squad will be hard to beat.
"My take, team-wise, is that Skowhegan takes both the Class A and overall team titles with Mt Blue, then Nokomis rounding out Class A," said Richards.
While Skowhegan has been a force all year, Saturday will be the first time the Indians put what might be its best lineup on the mat. Tyler Craig (113) won a KVAC title last season, as did John Swett (126) and Christian Jackson (160).
Freshman Julian Sirois makes his debut in the 120-pound class after splitting time with Swett at 126. Sirois is 23-2 in KVAC competition this season. Two other freshmen, Kameron Doucette (132) and Logan Stevens (145), are also expected to be seeded in the top four in their weight classes.
Kaleb Brown (138), Carter Stevens (152), Mikal Federici (170), Levi Hayden (182) and Andrew Pineo (195) are also expected to pile up points for the Indians.
Mt. Blue wrestlers are expected to win their share of medals as well. Senior Khalil Newbill goes for his third consecutive conference title, this time in the 126-pound class. Kevin Moore (132), Danny Reed (120), Nick Hickey (160), Dalton Black (170), Tyler Sennick (182) and Travis Stuard (220), should all contend for top-four finishes.
Nokomis' Rusty Wilson (182) and John Wilson (170) lead the Warriors. Jonathan Crocker (132), Jacob Richards (160) and Jacob Nichols (285) also could make it to the awards podium.
Chris Paradis (152), Nic Benner (195) and Jake Fraser (220) lead the host Rams.
Erskine's Steven Soohey (138) and Brendon Henderson (170) should contend for a medal.
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Richards thinks Camden Hills is the favorite in the Class B race.
"While Belfast squeaked ahead of Camden at the (mid-season) Sanford Spartan Tournament by 1.5 points, I think against KVAC competition that Camden will place a few more wrestlers than they did at the Spartan and take the B KVAC title," Richards said.
Gardiner's brother act, Peter and Daniel Del Gallo, will be the top seeds in the 106 and 138 pounds weight classes, respectively. Both are undefeated. Mitchell Chesley (195) should also be a top-four seed.
For MCI, Dylan Dahlbergh (120) and Tanner Littlefield (126) lead the way.
Winslow's Aaron Lint (285) is 23-0 in KVAC competition. Teammate Dillon Pelletier is 14-2 at 120 pounds.
Mt. View's James Blanchette (120), Job Mesaric (220) and Devan Fuller (285) will be the Mustang's top contenders for a medal.
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Madison Area Memorial High School, Monmouth Academy and Oak Hill High School head to Mountain Valley High School in Rumford on Saturday for the Mid-State League Championships. Hall-Dale's Wyatt Rush (152) will also compete in the nine-team tournament.
"I have three wrestlers who should be seeded in the top four spots for the Mid-State League championships," Madison coach Scot Padelford said.
Padelford said senior Danny Moreshead is undefeated at 152 pounds, while senior Matt McLaughlin is 25-12 at 170. He also think Ryan Malcolm will be the No. 1 seed at 285 with a record of 31-2. Malcolm also became the first Madison wrestling to win 100 career matches, according to Padelford.
Sophomore Cody Soucier will miss the tournament with an injury, according to Padelford.
Monmouth Academy's James Gambino (138) and Stewart Buzzell (145) could also be top-four seeds.
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A highly-anticipated match between Belfast's Brent Waterman and Gardiner's Daniel Del Gallo finally happened during a quad meet at Mt. Blue High School on Saturday. Waterman was a New England champion last season at 132 pounds while Del Gallo was second in the 138-pound class. Both weighed in at 138 pounds, although Waterman is expected to drop to 132 for conference, regional and state competitions.
Del Gallo won the match 4-2 on a last second takedown in the third period that broke a 2-2 tie.
"It was a once in a lifelime event, to get a chance to watch a New England champ vs. a New England runner-up in our home state," said Erskine Academy coach Pat Vigue, who was at the meet with his squad. "It was a great day to be a wrestling fan."