Winter storm Nemo dumped huge amounts of snow on most of Maine last weekend and forced the postponement of the high school wrestling state champions to this Saturday. For the most part, area coaches and wrestlers were not happy with the postponement, but have made the best of it.
“It’s good that the kids get an extra week to take care of any nagging injuries they may have,” Skowhegan coach Brooks Thompson said, “but on the flip side, it can be hard to keep the momentum that the boys have created for themselves. I guess it is our job as coaches to keep them believing and keep pushing them.”
Skowhegan will compete at Veteran’s Memorial Gymnasium in Sanford for the Class A championships along with Mt. Blue, Cony, Nokomis and Erskine. Gardiner, Oak Hill and MCI will travel to Fryeburg Academy for the Class B meet, while Monmouth, Winslow, Madison and Mt. View are at Foxcroft Academy for the Class C event. All tournaments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 am.
Skowhegan ran away with the Eastern A regional team title and enters the state tournament with five individual regional champions. Tyler Craig (113) won a state championship last season as a freshman at Mt. Blue. Freshmen Julian Sirois (120) and Kameron Doucette (132) look to build on their regional success. Kaleb Brown (138) was in the state finals last season while senior Andrew Pineo (195) placed second as a sophomore.
Regional runners-up Carter Stevens (152) and John Swett (126), also placed second at the state tournament last season.
Skowhegan finished in a tie for third last season and looks to move up the ladder in the team competition Saturday. Marshwood High School is considered a favorite to defend its title. Marshwood returns four individual state champions including Tyler Davidson (126), who goes after his fourth consecutive state title.
Mt. Blue tied Skowhegan for third-place last season. The Cougars have a strong core group of wrestlers returning to the state meet. Senior Drew Blanchet says his teammates have had mixed feelings about the delay.
“Initially, we were kinda bummed,” Blanchet said, “but we’re all using this week to fine tune our techniques. We’re all really excited to wrestle.”
Blanchet (138) is one of seven state qualifiers for the Cougars. He, Khalil Newbill (126) and Kevin Moore (132) each have placed at the state tournament multiple times. Blanchet and Moore have two state medals to their credit, while Newbill has three. All three look to get back on the awards podium in this, their senior season.
Nokomis’ Rusty Wilson (182) and Jacob Nichols (285) won Eastern titles and lead a group of six Warriors into the state tournament.
Maintaining weight for an additional week can have a negative impact on a wrestler’s psyche, Gardiner coach Matt Hanley said.
“It can be tough on kids if they have to really work hard to keep their weight down,” Hanley said. “They don’t get to eat as much as they would like and that tends to make kids tired and irritable.”
Hanley coaches two standout wrestlers, brothers Peter and Daniel Del Gallo, who moved down a weight class late in the season.
“Pete and Danny are both doing fine,” Hanley said. “They are really smart about their diet.”
Daniel (138), a senior, goes after his third consecutive state title while Peter (106), a freshman, looks to win his first. Each won their region and are undefeated this season. MCI’s Dylan Dahlbergh will enter the state tournament as the Eastern B champion in the 120 pound class.
Monmouth’s Ryan Scott (126) and Madison’s Ryan Malcolm (285) both bring Western C regional champion credentials to the Class C state meet.