The Gardiner Area High School wrestling team opens the season Saturday in an eight-team tournament at York with depth at each end of the weight class spectrum.
They can’t say the same about the middle weights classes.
“We have four open-weight classes and they are all in the middle,” Gardiner coach Matt Hanley said. “We should be fairly good but we’ll give up too many points to most teams we’ll face. Right now we don’t have anybody in 132 (pounds), 138, 152 and 160. We have a lot of lightweights and we are all set at heavyweight.
“It’s kind of an odd thing, too, because I only have four or five eighth-graders and just one wrestles in the middle. I don’t see us eliminating the problem anytime soon.”
The Tigers, with just two experienced seniors returning, are young this season.
Dan Del Gallo leads the squad, along with brother Peter. Dan Del Gallo will wrestle in the 145-pound class to open the season. Peter Del Gallo will open in the 113-pound class.
“Our goal is to be ready for regionals,” Hanley said.
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The Cony swim teams feature a host of newcomers, which has coach Jon Millett optimistic heading into the season opener.
The Rams, who will host Erskine at 7 p.m. Friday, had about 40 swimmers show up this winter.
“Of those,” Millett said, “25 have never really competed. We have a huge new group. We have a wide array of freshmen, sophomores, seniors. In years like this I thought we’d have a lot less kids, but we’re coming off a summer Olympics so that helped with the turnout.”
With many new faces, Millett said he hopes to get everybody involved Friday.
“This will give us a good starting point,” he said. “I want to get a good look at all of them. I have a ton of breaststrokers and a lot of young kids are drawn to the butterfly. Having those events filled is really nice. Having the newer kids drawn to these events, I’m all for it.”
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The Maranacook boys basketball team hosts Medomak Valley on Friday night in a game both teams could look back at months from now.
“Absolutely,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “There are a lot of Heal points on the line. This is a huge game. The first game of the season is always huge, but this is even more so. From a morale standpoint, this game can really set the tone for the season.”
Medomak Valley reached the Eastern B semifinals last season and returns another strong team. Maranacook finished 9-10 and lost a Western B prelim game to Leavitt.
Schmidt returns a talented team, although he called the preseason a “rollercoaster.”
“We had some great highs and some disappointing lows,” he said. “It showed us what we need to work on. We are as ready as we’ll be.”
The Panthers and Black Bears tip off at 6:30 p.m.
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After three weeks of practices, the Hall-Dale girls basketball team is eager to play some games that matter.
“The (preseason) tournaments are good, but they aren’t the real thing,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said. “It’s just a different atmosphere. There is a little bit of an anticipation to get it going for real.”
The Bulldogs finished 18-4 last season, their last loss coming in the Class C state title game to Central.
They open this season with several new players who will play key roles.
The Bulldogs are also coping with some injuries in the early going. Sophomore Eva Shepherd and junior Amara Truman, two players expected to provide key minutes off the bench, are out with injuries, Terrill said.
“They are important depth,” he said.
The Bulldogs host Spruce Mountain at 7 Saturday night.
“This is an exciting time of the year,” Terrill said. “It’s time to see where we’re at.”
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The Gardiner girls basketball team finished 17-4 last season and reached the Eastern B semifinals.
Expectations are high this season with several key players returning.
“We’re ready to go,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said.
The Tigers played a lot of preseason games, something Gray likes to do with veteran teams.
“We played a lot this preseason,” he said. “It’s different when you have a lot of the same kids back. We like to play as many tuneups as we can as sort of a refresher. We saw a bunch of (Mountain Valley Conference) teams, like Madison, Boothbay, Spruce Mountain, Hall-Dale and Mountain Valley in a few round-robins. We saw Hermon and Oxford Hills, too.”
Gardiner plays at Morse on Friday night.
“I want us to come out and play the way we can,” Gray said. “I want to go out and set the tone early and go from there.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640