GARDINER — Mt. Blue and Gardiner came away big winners Saturday at the 39th Tiger Invitational Wrestling Tournament.
Mt. Blue won the meet with 154 points while Gardiner was a surprising second with 120. Westbrook, Erskine and Cony rounded out the top five. Mt. Blue won handily despite not filling all the weight classes.
“We only brought nine wrestlers and we put seven in the finals and we had five firsts,” Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor said. “I think as a whole we wrestled really well.”
Mt. Blue’s Kevin Moore, who pinned Erskine’s Joe York in the 132-pound finals, was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.
“Kevin Moore was on his game, getting a pin after losing to Skowhegan on Wednesday,” O’Connor said.
Danny Read (120), Khalil Newbill (126), Dalton Black (170) and Travis Stuard (220) each recorded pins in the finals for the Cougars. Read’s was the most unlikely since he trailed Maine Central Institute’s Dylan Dahlbergh 7-0 at the time.
“I had to lose a lot of weight this week, I was tired,” Read said. “He came out and pressured me. I just grabbed him in a head and arm and just kept pushing on it.”
The Del Gallo brothers, senior Dan and freshman Peter, each won championships for Gardiner. Dan, a two-time defending state champ, recorded a technical fall at 145 pounds over Monmouth’s Stewart Buzzell after jumping out to a 20-3 lead in the first period. Dan went 52-1 last season, losing only in the New England finals. He is 143-7 for in-state matches in his career and is less than 30 wins away from the school record held by his brother Matt.
“Danny’s drive is unreal,” Gardiner coach Matt Hanley said. “Sometimes the team jokes about how hard he pushes them. They’d rather have me run the practices because I’m easier than Danny is on them.”
Younger brother Peter began wrestling in the first grade and acts like a veteran as a freshman. He’s already 9-0 and knocked off defending state champion Tyler Craig of Skowhegan last week at the Westbrook Invitational. Saturday, he pinned Erskine’s Justin Studholme in the second period. The Tigers also got a second-place finish from Mitchell Chesley at 195 and wins in the consolation finals from Jake Truman (170), Harnish Thornton (182) and Andrew Doody-Veilleux (220).
Hall-Dale senior Wyatt Rush, who trains with Gardiner, won his match in the 160 finals by pinning Mt. Blue’s Nick Hickey in the third period.
“He’s worked real hard in the practice room, but he’s never taken that next step,” Hanley said of Rush. “He may have done that today.”
Westbrook finished with 115 points to take third place. The Blue Blazes put three wrestlers in the finals, getting wins from Scott Kirkpatrick (138) and Devon Grant (195). Portland finished eighth but did get a pair of wins in the finals from Kidayer Aljubyly (106) and Malcolm Henry (182).
Erskine got second-place finishes from Studholme (113) and Lucas Donald (138) along with thirds from Isaac Taylor (106) and Robert Soohey (145). Cony’ junior Chris Paradis, who upset defending state champion Nick Janes of Marshwood at the Westbrook Invitational, continued to wrestle well, winning at 152 with a pin over Maine Central Institute’s Trevor Kitchin.
“This year I’m going in with a better mindset,” Paradis said. “I made a lot more mistakes last year.”
Cony’s Jake Fraser took second at 220 while Victor Tapia-Smith (125), Nic Benner (195) and Elias Younes (285) won in the consolation finals.
“We had three guys out,” Cony coach Shawn totman said. “We’re coming around. We tell the kids every time we compete we have to take a step forward and we took a step forward today. There was a scrapiness from these guys that I haven’t seen.”
Monmouth got seconds from Buzzell (113) and Kyler Czarepanyn (285) and a third from James Gambino (138). Nokomis sophomore Jacob Nichols won with a pin at 285.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638