AUGUSTA — Cony senior Max Storey started wrestling a little more than four years ago as an eighth-grader and it definitely wasn’t love at first spladle.

“I didn’t really think I was going to like it at first,” said Storey, who was attending middle school in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the time. “I was just trying it out the first year. I didn’t win any matches at all.”

Fortunately for Cony High School, Storey grew to love wrestling so much that now he can’t get enough of it — whether it’s competing or learning more about the intricacies of the sport.

In the coming weeks, he hopes to cap off his two-year career at Cony with an undefeated season, his second regional championship, his first state title and a spot in the New England championships.

Cony coach Shawn Totman is grateful that a high school coach in Virginia Beach convinced Storey to try out for wrestling again as a freshman.

By his sophomore year, Storey, who has never wrestled outside the 220-pound weight class, was on the starting roster. When he arrived at Cony as a junior, he was ready to make the commitment to become a dominating wrestler.

“His dedication to training in the offseason has made a world of difference,” Totman said. “His improvement is remarkable over the couple of years since he’s been in Maine. Every bit of success is from his hard work. He’s passionate about the sport and he’s incredibly dedicated to it.”

Storey wrestles virtually year-round, competing in tournaments in Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Dakota. He’ll enter freestyle tournaments, which is the style of wrestling used in Maine, or Greco-Roman (or Olympic style) tournaments, just to get as much experience as he can.

“It’s been very important to me (to wrestle so much) and I want to stay consistent and keep learning,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I want to continue to do so.”

Every moment on the mat is an opportunity to learn and grow as a wrestler and person, Storey said.

“I just use what I can learn in practice, everything I’ve learned from all of my coaches, and I try to put that together into the style that I wrestle,” he said.

Storey’s style is always evolving, and hard to define. He is a unique athlete for his weight class.

“He’s really quick. He’s just got this explosiveness…” Totman said. “He wrestles at 220, but he doesn’t wrestle like a 220, you know what I mean?”

“He moves really, really well, and he’s very strong,” Totman added. “He’s slick. The moves he uses, you just don’t tend to see bigger guys try these things, like ankle picks and things. He’s just a different kind of guy for that weight class. He’s very compact (5-foot-9) and he uses that to his advantage. He’s a tough guy to shoot on, a very hard guy to hold down on the mat.”

While his unique skills make him a very confident wrestler, Storey isn’t afraid to lose and won’t back down from a challenge.

“It’s kind of a life lesson: Never back down from what life throws at you,” he said.

He still hates to lose, which is why the last one he suffered still haunts him, and motivates him, even though he’s 34-0 since then.

“I was seeded second at states last year and won my first match,” he said. “I was against a tough Noble kid (Zac Schluntz) in the semifinals and got thrown. Me being irresponsible, I didn’t wear my mouth piece and I started bleeding and everything. I got distracted by the injury and lost (by pinfall at 4:26).”

“That just made me want to work so much harder and do as much as I possibly could (this year),” he added. “I don’t want to be satisfied with the results. Never be satisfied. Just keep working harder and harder and harder.”

He credits his family with helping him keep focused. His step-father, William Fortune, plays a big role in his training and helps him with his diet.

Storey passes the mentorship along to his younger teammates, although he said he learns from them as much as he teaches.

In two years, Storey has learned to love the Maine wrestling community even faster than he learned to love the sport itself.

“I feel like it’s family everywhere I go and I love it,” he said. “Everyone is willing to help.”

With his quick smile and soft-spoken demeanor, Storey is fast becoming a favorite son of Maine wrestling.

“Don’t let that fool you, though,” Totman said. “His desire to win is there, no question about it.”

The Class A North regional championship starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Skowhegan Area High School.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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