Defending champion Camden Hills is the favorite again this year at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference wrestling championships, which will take place Saturday at Cony High School.

Wrestlers from 23 high schools will compete for individual and team honors starting at 9:30 a.m.

“The quality of wrestling is incredible,” Gardiner coach Matt Hanley said. “Some of the best wrestlers in Class A, B and C are competing and the finals matches should be great to watch.”

Gardiner has one of the best in junior Daniel Del Gallo (138). Del Gallo beat Cony’s Will Lundquist 5-3 in overtime last year in the championship finals. Del Gallo would go on to win a Class B state title while Lundquist won the Class A crown. Lundquist has graduated, but Del Gallo, is 38-0, hopes to repeat. Seniors Wyatt Thornton (152) and Zac Abram (160) will also be in the hunt for a medal.

Hanley said Class B Camden Hills is the team to beat.

“Camden is really tough, from top to bottom,” he said. “Mt. Blue and Cony should be up near the top, too.”

Camden Hills won the overall team title last season.

Cony coach Shawn Totman said he needs a true team effort out of the Rams.

“Our seniors should do OK,” he said. “I’m hoping some of the other kids with less experience can surprise some people.”

The Rams are led by seniors Connor Dufour (132), Cody Dular (220), Thon Itthipalakorn (152) and Steven Morse (285).

Mt. Blue has been a force all season. The Cougars lost just one dual meet, a 41-30 setback at the hands of Camden Hills.

Freshman Tyler Craig has made an immediate impact for the Cougars with a 33-0 record at 106 pounds. Mt. Blue will need a big day from Craig, as well as veterans Khalil Newbill (120), Kevin Moore (126), Nick Hyde (132), Drew Blanchet (138), Chris Ingram (152), Caleb Farrington (160) and Zach Faulkner (170) to make a run at Camden Hills. Newbill won his weight class last year.

What Skowhegan lacks in overall team depth, it makes up for in star power. The Indians have had a few empty weight classes all season, but have some of the top wrestlers in the conference. John Swett recently dropped down from 120 to 113 and should vie for a conference title. Freshman Kaleb Brown (138) is 34-1, his only loss to Del Gallo. Carter Stevens (145) is 29-3. Christian Jackson (160) is 24-0 in the conference, while Andrew Pineo (195) is 22-1. Levi Hayden and Zach Witham have also been solid performers for the Indians.

While other local schools may not have the depth to contend for team honors, they each do have some talented individuals. Erskine’s Ryan Wood is a likely top seed at 170 pounds. Nokomis’ Zack McFarlin (182) has a 23-2 overall record. Winslow’s Aaron Lint (285) has 32 wins. Tyler Stevenson (220) leads Mt. View with 26 wins. Oak Hills’ Donnie Vannah (145) leads the Raiders. Will Cu (126) and Dylan Dahlbergh (106) each have more than 20 wins for Maine Central Institute.

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Madison and Monmouth will travel to Wells High School on Saturday to compete in the Mid-State League championships. The tournament field is made up of four Class C schools (Madison, Monmouth, Dirigo and Lisbon) and four Class B schools (Fryeburg, Mountain Valley, Wells and York). Wrestling is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m.

“I think Dirigo will win Mid-States,” Madison coach Scot Padelford said. “They have a lot of depth and their wrestlers are solid throughout their lineup. I believe as a team we should place around fourth.”

Padelford is counting on a few individuals to lead the way.

“Ryan Malcolm at 220 and Cody Soucier at 145 have good chances of winning their weight classes,” Padelford said. “Kyle Foley is 25-10 and Danny Moreshead at 152 is 17-7. They should both place in the top four. As a team we are peaking at the right time. Everyone is wrestling at their best.”

Malcolm is 28-1 while Soucier is 26-6, according to Padelford.


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