AUGUSTA — The Skowhegan Area High School wrestling team flexed its muscles at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Saturday, running away with the team title, to no one’s surprise.
The Indians placed eight wrestlers in the finals and came away with five titles. They scored 227.5 points to win the Class A title to 142.5 for runner-up Camden Hills, which won the Class B title. This was the first time the Indians have won the overall KVAC championship, but they’re not done yet.
They’ll be a heavy favorite when they host the Eastern Class A regionals next week, then it’s on to the states.
“It’s amazing for me, because I’m a senior,” said Carter Stevens, who edged Cony’s Chris Paradis for the 152-pound title. “I get to see what it’s been like, the bad and the good. Our freshmen have really been the building blocks of our team.”
In addition to Stevens, winners for Skowhegan included Tyler Craig (106), Julian Sirois (120), Levi Hayden (182) and Andrew Pineo (195). Sirois is a freshman, as is Kameron Doucette who reached the 132-pound final.
“It’s almost like a family,” Sirois said of the team. “There’s something special about it.”
The three wrestlers who reached the finals and lost won’t be facing those opponents next week. Doucette lost at 132 to Belfast’s Brent Waterman who competes in Class B and last year won a New England title. Kaleb Brown lost at 138 to Gardiner’s Daniel Del Gallo, another Class B standout, while Mikal Federici was pinned by Brunswick’s Jared Jensen in the 170-pound final. Jensen, who was named the outstanding Class A wrestler, is expected to drop to 160 next week.
“They all wrestled to their potential,” Skowhegan coach Tenney Noyes said. “They’re hard workers and that’s the key. You can have the talent but if they’re not hard workers it’s really tough to put a good team together.”
Belfast freshman Dagan Berenyi was named the outstanding wrestler in Class B based in part on his upset win against Mt. Blue’s Khalil Newbill in the 126-pound final. Berenyi scored a reversal at the third period buzzer to tie the match and won 4-2 in overtime with a takedown.
The Class B award could easily have gone to Peter or Daniel Del Gallo. Peter was leading 14-0 when he pinned Morse’s Kyle Bonti in the second period of the 106-pound final. The Gardiner freshman is 42-0 for the season. Senior brother Daniel scored his fourth pin of the day in stopping Skowhegan’s Brown in the 138 pound final. Daniel is 47-0 for the season and last week passed his older brother Matt for the school win mark. His overall record is 186-10 (including New England competition) with 115 pins.
“I’m getting ready for New Englands,” Daniel said. “I’m trying to pick up the intensity.”
Belfast finished third followed by Mt. Blue and Gardiner. Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor kept three wrestlers out of the competition due to injuries, but they’re expected to compete at the regionals.
“Basically they don’t do me much good if they get hurt here,” O’Connor said. “I thought we wrestled well.”
Winslow’s Adam Lint edged Jacob Nichols 4-2 to win the 285-pound division while Rusty Wilson of Nokomis finished runner-up to Hayden at 182. Also taking a second place was Mt. View’s Job Mesaric at 220. Winners in the consolation finals included Maine Central Institute’s Dylan Dahlbergh (120), Mt. Blue’s Kevin Moore (132), Skowhegan’s Logan Stevens (145), Nokomis’ John Wilson, Cony’s Nic Benner (195) and Winslow’s Sean Cote (220).
“I liked the intensity that we wrestled with,” said Cony coach Shawn Totman, whose team finished ninth out of 21 teams. “It’s definitely something we’re going to build on going into regionals. I think we are where we need to be.”
Tony Stevens of Oxford Hills was named KVAC Class A Coach of the Year while Gardiner’s Matt Hanley won the Class B award.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638