The Cony wrestling team has proven throughout the season it is one of the team that will challenge Skowhegan at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.
The Rams finished third at the Skowhegan Invitational last weekend with 140 points and won the team title at the Mid-Maine tournament at Mt. View High School on Dec. 28. Cony had 209 points at Mid-Maine, a solid 78 points over second-place finisher Nokomis. The Rams also won the Tiger Inivitational earlier in the season, finishing with 170 points, 68 points better than second-place Gardiner.
Though the Rams have maintained a consistent showing at tournaments, coach Shawn Totman said Cony still has work to do between now and the conference tournament because winter weather has cost them to lose practice time.
“In all honesty, the team is wrestling OK right now, but we’re not where we should be,” Totman said. “Like everyone else our practice schedule over the last few weeks has been severely disrupted due to the terrible weather we’ve been having. That set us behind a little bit, but we are getting back into a good rhythm and the kids are progressing well.”
Seven Cony wrestlers had first-place finishes at Mid-Maine: Zach Charest (106 pounds), Josh Gilbert (113 pounds), Zeko Caudill (138 pounds), Chris Paradis (152 pounds), Victor Tapia-Smith (160 pounds), Christopher Wilson (195 pounds), Nic Benner (220 pounds) and Elias Younes (285 pounds). Totman said he’s been pleased not only with the wrestling of his core group, but also new wrestlers such as Gilbert, a senior who picked up his first tourament title, and Devon O’Connor, a sophomore who placed fourth at 182 pounds at Mid-Maine, the first time he’s placed in a high school tournament.
As the regular season is wrapping up, Totman said the message to the team remains the same, continue to work and improve.
“Every opponent is important for seeding purposes in the KVACs and regional championships,” Totman said. “We need to continue to focus on working hard in practice and push each other and continue to improve. If we do that then the individual and team wins will follow and at the same time, we will put ourselves in a good position to do well with our championship meets.”
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The Skowhegan wrestling team is riding a wave of success with a roster full of new talent that may lead to another conference championship and shot at a state title.
The Indians, the defending conference champions, won the team title at last weekend’s Skowhegan Invitational. The Indians racked up 211 points, thanks to seven first-place finishes. Ellsworth was second with 208.
“It was great,” Skowhegan co-coach Tenney Noyes said. “The boys were amped up to wrestle under the mat light one last time on their home mat. We didn’t get too many home meets this year, so it was kind of tough not wrestling on the home mat and traveling all the time. They’re doing well, they’re working their tails off.”
Skowhegan’s Kam Doucette, who won the 145-pound division, was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
Cody Craig (106 pounds), Ty Craig (120 pounds), Julian Sirois (132 pounds), Kaleb Brown (152 pounds), Mikel Federici (182 pounds) and Justin McGuire (195 pounds) also won titles for Skowhegan. Cody Holland finished second at 113 pounds and Logan Stevens finished second at 160 pounds.
Skowhegan also enjoyed success at the Noble Invitational, battling the best Class A schools in the state and finishing second behind defending state champions Marshwood.
Cody Craig, in particular, has been a prime example of the Skowhegan youth movement. A freshman, Craig has won the 106-pound title at the Skowhegan Invitational, the Noble Invitational and the Nokomis Warrior Clash.
Bucking the trend of a rebuilding season, none of the Indians success this season has come as a surprise to Noyes.
“Everybody stepped up and pulled their own weight,” Noyes said. “In our eyes, we work with them every day and we know what they’re capable of. They’re doing what we expect becauase we see the hard work they put in every day in everything they do. It’s not that surprising that they do that well.”
The KVAC championships are scheduled for Feb. 1, less than three weeks away. But Noyes said the team is focused on their final three regular season meets before the tournament, including a quad-meet against Mt. View, Cony and Belfast scheduled for Jan. 24 in Augusta. Noyes said a meet with the Rams will be an excellent test for the team before the conference championships.
“It’s always great wrestling Cony,” Noyes said. “(Shawn) Toman does a great job with those guys. It’s always fun because they’re always tough. You love wreslting those guys because you love the six minute matches.You want to get tested.”
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Mt. View reached a goal set by coach Hamilton Richards recently. The Mustangs reached the 100-point mark at a tournament for the first time this season, scoring 105.5 points at the Skowhegan Invitational, finishing one point ahead of Nokomis for fourth place. A tournament that includes both Class A and B teams, the Mustangs finished with the best score of the Western Class B squads
The finish gives Mt. View momentum heading into the championship tournaments. Richards originally believed the Mutangs could finish within the top four teams at the regional meet, but after Skowhegan, he believes the team can do even better.
“Our last showing demonstrates we are solidly in contention with (the top Western B) teams,” Richards said. “It’s all going to boil down to whether we have a good day (during regionals) or not and how all the teams line up against each other.”
Job Mesaric had the best showing for the Mustangs at Skowhegan, placing second in the 220-pound division. A junior, Mesaric made the finals in every tournament he wrestled in this season. James Blanchette finished third at 126 pounds, while Matt Wheeler (138 pounds), Anthony Barnard (145 pounds) and Scott Vaillancourt (160 pounds) each finished fourth.
Richards was particulary happy with 285-pound wrestler Chris Cole, who finished third. Cole recently placed first at the Nokomis Warrior Clash, but after losing his first match at Skowhegan, Cole beat Class B runner-up Jared Bragg of Ellsworth and Elias Younes of Cony to finish third.
“We most certainly have a lot of work to do to get ready for the postseason tournaments but the indications are that we are on the right track,” Richards said.
Dave Dyer — 621-5639