Danny Buteau is back where he started.

The defending 106-pound Class B state champion from Oak Hill spent much of this season wrestling in the 113-pound class. However, the sophomore dropped back to 106 pounds, where he plans to finish out the season. Oak Hill coach Ric Swett says Buteau is well-positioned to defend his state title.

“Danny is by far the most talented and capable wrestler I have ever had the pleasure to coach at Oak Hill,” said Swett. “He thrives on the workouts. Whether lifting weights, running or live wrestling, he out-paces every member of the team with his drive to progress on the mat. Danny’s love of wrestling keeps him involved most of the year in the offseason, so he gets a good dose of competition to keep his technique sharp.”

Due to weight management guidelines, Buteau has had to compete at 113 pounds for most of this season. He rolled up over 20 wins at that weight against just two losses, which came to Mountain Valley’s Caleb Austin.

Buteau moved down to 106 pounds on Jan. 10 at the Skowhegan tournament. He cruised to the championship finals where he met defending Class A champion Cody Craig of Skowhegan. Craig prevailed 4-0.

Swett is already looking forward to a possible Buteau-Craig rematch. The two cannot meet again during the remainder of the season because Oak Hill and Skowhegan compete in different conferences. However, the pair could meet again after the state meets.

“Danny should sail through the season-ending tournaments with no problem,” said Swett. “I’m looking forward to his rematch with Cody Craig at the New England qualifier.”

After the Class A, B, and C state championship meets, the Maine Principals’ Association holds a qualifying tournament in which all state place-winners are eligible to compete for one of the three berths in each weight class to reach the New England championships, a six-state tournament.

Last year, Buteau narrowly missed qualifying for New Englands. Buteau was disappointed, but soon put it in perspective.

“I just told myself not to worry about it,” he said. “I have three more years and plenty of chances to make it.”

Buteau has a clear vision for the rest of the season.

“My goals for the rest of the year are to practice hard, win regionals and states and make it to New Englands,” said Buteau.

• • •

Mount View standout heavyweight Chris Cole has returned to the mats, which has bolstered the spirits of coach Hamilton Richards. Cole suffered an elbow injury early in December that threatened to sideline him for the season.

“Chris has been working with a doctor, a chiropractor, and our athletic trainer to get back as soon as possible,” said Richards.

Cole, whose season record stands at 12-1, has been able to pick up some forfeit wins during the season, but hadn’t competed in a match since he suffered the injury while wrestling Nokomis’ Jacob Nichols on Dec. 17. On Saturday, Cole earned two wins by pin against Belfast and MCI.

“He showed a little bit of rust on Saturday against Belfast and we still need to get his cardio back where it was,” said Richards. “But he’s telling me he’s up for (the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet). So far, so good, but my biggest concern is prep for regionals and keeping him healthy. If he holds up through hard practices this week and is still raring to go Saturday, then we’re giving it a whirl. At the moment, the (doctors) seem to think he’s just going to be sore but the risk of re-injury is pretty low.”

Cole finished third in Class B last season and also won three matches at New Englands.

• • •

Area teams will compete in conference championship tournaments Saturday. Monmouth, Oak Hill and Madison will compete at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford in the 10-team Mid State Tournament. Cony, Erskine Academy, Gardiner, MCI, Mount View, Mt. Blue, Nokomis, Skowhegan, and Winslow will be at Cony for the 18-team KVAC championships.

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