Several wrestlers from central Maine have been training at Skowhegan Area High School the past couple of weeks in preparation for this weekend’s New England tournament in Providence, R.I.

Skowhegan co-coach Brooks Thompson said about 16 wrestlers have shown up to practice, including six from Skowhegan. Many are state champions in their respective classes.

“They’re working hard, they’re pushing each other,” Thompson said. “You really can’t ask for better role partners when you get those kids in the room.”

In the past, only state champions qualified for the New Englands, but this year a special qualifying tournament was held, which Thompson believes gives Maine a stronger field.

“We should be really solid,” said Thompson, who noted Marshwood is training a similar contingent of southern Maine wrestlers. “At least half the contenders going are from Class A. Our best wrestlers should be the ones going to the New Englands.”

Skowhegan junior Kaleb Brown went through the regular season unbeaten at 145 pounds but was upset by a point at the state tournament. He bounced back to win the New England qualifier in which the top three finishers are eligible for the tournament.

“It gave him a rebirth,” Thompson said.

Gardiner sophomore Peter Del Gallo was the only Maine wrestler to come away with a title last year, winning at 106 pounds. The two-time state champ will compete at 113 pounds this year and is unbeaten in Maine and New England competition in his high school career,

“I think I’m more aggressive than I was last year,” Del Gallo said.

And more confident, too.

“This year it doesn’t matter if (my opponents) are better,” he said.

Last year, Del Gallo went on to compete in the nationals at Virginia Beach where he placed fourth. For others, like Skowhegan senior Mikal Federici, the New England tournament offers added exposure.

“The big thing for him is to show he’s right there,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, he’ll get some colleges looking at him.”

Skowhegan junior Tyler Craig, a three-time state champ, will compete at 120 pounds, a year after finishing fifth at 113. Others Skowhegan wrestlers include Julian Sirois (123), Kameron Doucette (138) and Cody Craig (106). Others intending to compete include Maine Central Institute’s Dylan Dahlberg (126), Monmouth’s Stewart Buzzell (145), Rusty (182) and Chris (195) Wilson of Nokomis, Cony’s Nic Benner (220), Mt. Blue’s William Gunter (285) and Mt. View’s Chris Cole (285).

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638 [email protected] Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ