Standing on the top step of the awards podium at the Class A state championship tournament was an emotional moment for Skowhegan’s Andrew Pineo. The Indians senior had just won the 150th match of his career in the 195-pound final. For Pineo, it was the culmination of a long quest.
“At that moment everything came down,” Pineo said. “I was finally a (state) champion. That was all I wanted every day all season. It was amazing to know that I was finally the best.”
For his championship performance, Andrew Pineo has been named the Morning Sentinel Wrestler of the Year. Teammate Tyler Craig and Winslow’s Aaron Lint were also considered.
Pineo won the Nokomis and Skowhegan tournaments during the regular season and went on to win the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Eastern A regional championships as well. He avenged one of his two in-state losses when he beat Belfast’s Peter Kelley in the finals at the KVAC tournament.
He finished with a 47-4 record, including a 2-2 performance in the New England tournament. He finished his career with a 152-34 record, including 79 pins. He is just the second Skowhegan wrestler to reach 150 career wins, according to Skowhegan coach Tenney Noyes.
Pineo placed second in the state tournament as a sophomore, but was unable to complete the event last season.
“Last year I was pulled out of states with my second concussion on the season,” Pineo said. “That made me want to prove that I was the best this year.”
As valuable as Pineo was to the Skowhegan team in competition, he was just as valuable as a team leader, according to the Skowhegan coaches.
“He was a captain who knew Skowhegan had something very special this year as a team,” Noyes said. “Not only did he push himself to a record setting year, he pushed the team to a record setting year. He was a leader and motivator on this team that everyone willingly followed.”
Pineo helped lead the team to a 21-1 dual meet record, including a win over perennial powerhouse Noble in the finals of the Cony Duals.
“He sealed the deal against Noble with a huge pin,” Noyes said.
Pineo is aware of this role. “I do think that I was one of the leaders on the team,” he said. “I tried to finish every drill first and tried to go nonstop. I wanted to be the best and I wanted to take them all up with me.”
“He is a great leader and will be missed next year,” coach Brooks Thompson said.
Pineo plans to attend the University of Southern Maine in the fall to pursue an engineering degree.