Though early season tournaments don’t tell everything, the Cony wrestling team made a statement at last weekend’s Tiger Invitational in Gardiner.

The Rams ran away with the team title, scoring 170 points, 68 more than runner-up Gardiner. In doing so, Cony proved itself a team to watch throughout the rest of the season.

Six Ram wrestlers finished with championships at the tournament, including Chris Paradis (152 pounds), Griffin Richards (170 pounds), Nic Benner (220 pounds) and Elias Younes (285 pounds). It was the first tournament win for both Richards and Younes.

Two more wrestlers who won titles for Cony were a pair of unknowns, at least to area teams. Brothers Tre (132 pounds) and Zeko (138 pounds) Caudill, who transferred to Cony late last year from Caribou, each won in their respective weight classes.

Cony coach Shawn Totman came away impressed with his team’s performance at the Tiger.

“We always circle the date of the Tiger tournament at the beginning of the year because it is one of our favorite events to compete in,” Totman said. “The kids are always excited for the Tiger. To go down there and perform the way we did this year was awesome. Everyone on the team wrestled with an energy and toughness that we haven’t had up to this point. Bringing home six champions and three third place finishers is really cool.” The success from the tournament could be an indicator that the Rams will improve on the ninth place finish from last year’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships and 14th place finish at the state meet. Totman said early season wins and losses will not ultimately decide the Rams’ fate.

“The key now is to use the Tiger as a springboard into the rest of the season,” Totman said. “We know what we are capable of, but still need to improve on a lot of areas of our wrestling. This should get the kids motivated and excited about working hard in practice. Winning the Tiger is great, but we are far from the end of the season.”

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Another team that had success at the Tiger Inivitational was Monmouth Academy. In a tournament involving teams from all three classes, the Class C Mustangs had four wrestlers finish in fourth place or better. The most impressive performance came from Stewart Buzzell, who defeated Andrew Payson of Class A Morse by technical fall in the championship round to win the 145-pound title. Buzzell was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

A senior, Buzzell won the 145-pound title at the Class C state championships last year. He owns a 10-0 record so far this season.

“I know it’s my last year so I’ve been pushing myself harder in practice and honing my moves” Buzzell said.

Monmouth coach Shawn Schultz said he sees improvement from his top wrestler on a year-to-year basis.

“Every year, he just keeps getting better and better,” Schultz said. “He keeps improving. He watches his matches (on film) and sees what he needs to improve on, what to fix. He takes criticisms to heart and he listens and fixes the problems.”

Emily Levasseur, who finished fourth at states last year, finished second at 113 pounds, while Calvin Thompson finished in second place at 106 pounds.

“They work hard as a team,” Schultz said. “They push each other and they keep developing. Everybody’s getting stronger.”

• • •

Skowhegan is off to another impressive start. The Indians, who are the defending KVAC champions and third place finishers in Class A last season, finished second at the Westlake Tournament in Bath on Nov. 30. Skowhegan had 142 points, six points shy of tournament champion Noble and 38 points ahead of third place finisher Cony.

Cody Craig (106 pounds), Julian Sirois (132 pounds), Kam Doucette (142 pounds), Logan Stevens (160 pounds) and Mikal Federici (182 pounds) all won titles in their weight divisions, while Tyler Craig (120 pounds) and Cooper Holland (113 pounds) each had second-place finishes.

The Indians hit the mat again on Saturday, as they will be one of a dozen teams participating in the Cony Duals in Augusta.

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Christmas break is coming up for high schools, but there will be plenty of wrestling tournaments on Saturday just as school break begins.

The biggest area tournament this weekend will be the Cony Duals. The Rams will host the 12-team tournament, which will also include Brewer, Erskine, Gardiner, Madison, Morse, Mt. Ararat, Mt. Blue, Oxford Hills, Skowhegan, Westbrook and Winslow.

“We will put four mats down on the floor and have a phenomenal day of wrestling,” Cony coah Shawn Totman said.

Oak Hill and Maine Central Institute will travel south to compete in the Atlantic Invitational at Wells High School. Also participating in the tournament are Biddeford, Kennebunk, Fryeburg, Bucksport, Dirigo, Hollis-Brookline, Lincoln, Lisbon, Marshwood, Medomak Valley, Mountain Valley, Noble, Wells and York.

Mt. View and Nokomis will compete in a quad-meet against Belfast and Oceanside.

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