After the 2013 season, the Maine Principals’ Association scrapped regional tournaments for Class C wrestlers.

Now, the whole class will be eliminated and the sport will consist of Class A and B, with the former including schools with 575 or more students.

“The intent is that we’ll have more schools with full teams,” said Gerry Durgin, the MPA’s representative on the wrestling committee. “Then when we get to the regional tournaments, we’ll be able to fill all of the brackets.”

The move to two classes has been much discussed over several years. It was recommended by the committee last November. If there were any doubt, seeing only two of the 14 weight classes with full eight-man brackets at the Class C state tournament helped convince the classification committee and interscholastic management committee that change was needed.

The proposal must still be ratified during the annual business meeting April 30 at the Samoset Resort in Rockland.

“I’m for it personally,” Skowhegan coach Brooks Thompson said. “There are still a lot of really good wrestlers in this state but the competitiveness to me seems like it has dwindled a bit. I think we kind of have to make due with what we have and I think we’re a small enough state as far as wrestling is concerned.”

Over the past four years Brian Salsbury has developed one of the top teams in Class C at Dexter High, which was the runner-up to Dirigo this season.

“I agree that the competition in Class C isn’t strong enough,” Salsbury said. “To drive two hours for a dual meet to get in six matches if you’re lucky is a waste of our resources. But there needs to be a plan moving forward. Short-term it might make it a little worse. Teams with four, five, six kids won’t be able to compete and might fold.”

Durgin and Marshwood Athletic Director Rich Buzzell, a member of the wrestling committee, believe another proposal could actually increase the number of teams — or at least create more competitive teams.

The Classification Committee has proposed all sports be allowed to field cooperative teams comprised of athletes from two or more schools. Currently, wrestling and other sports with individual titles are designated cooperative individual sports. A team can support an affiliated athlete from a different school with training and competition opportunities but the “individual” still represents his or her home school.

Durgin said the impetus for changing the cooperative team rules came from the wrestling committee.

“There are schools out there with the equipment but not enough kids to have a team,” Buzzell said. “I’ll bet there will be smaller Class C schools getting together to form a cooperative team.”

Buzzell added, “I don’t think we’ll lose programs. I think there will be a greater possibility to gain programs.”

Since being sanctioned as a sport in 1959, wrestling has been separated into one, two and three classes over the years.

After a short-lived three-class experiment in 1968 and 1969, wrestling reverted to two classes, switched to one class from 1973-79, and then went back to two through 1989. Since then separate individual and team champions have been crowned in three classes.

In addition to Class C programs moving up to compete with solid established programs like defending Class B champ Ellsworth and Mountain Valley, several strong Class B teams will now be in Class A under the proposed realignment.

York and Gardiner will move into the new Class A South. Camden Hills, which has won 10 Class B titles since 2001, and Morse will be in Class A North.

“It’s going to be a hard move for Gardiner because we’re struggling with our numbers as it is,” Tigers coach Matt Hanley said. “I was kind of hoping we would stay down in B.

“…We’re under 600 kids and it’s tough competing in A. They can bring in a few more kids into the practice room than we do.”

Hanley also expressed concerns in regards to his team’s potential schedule. Since Gardiner competes in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference it will not see the majority of its regional opponents until the tournament.

Erskine coach Patrick Vigue said he was fine with the proposed changes because his team stayed in Class B, but also as a result of what he has seen at regional tournaments recently.

“I had a 220 pounder and he placed third in the regionals and he didn’t have to beat anybody to get there,” Vigue said. “I guess it was a necessary thing just to make it respectable.”

Both Vigue and Hanley said that the bigger problem has little to do with how many classes there are though, and more about finding ways to drum up more interest in wrestling.

“We’ve got to do something about wrestling as a whole as coaches if we’re ever going to try to get kids to come out,” Vigue said.

Staff Writer Evan Crawley contributed to this report.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig


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