Forty-two wrestlers from Maine qualified to compete in this weekend’s New England Championship in Providence, Rhode Island, by finishing first, second or third at the state’s third annual New England Qualifying tournament.

The 52nd New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championship begins Friday and concludes Saturday at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.

Maine has not had an individual champion since 2013, when Peter Del Gallo of Gardiner won the 106-pound division as a freshman.

Del Gallo (126 pounds) and Skowhegan junior Cody Craig (106 pounds) hope to change that this weekend.

“I’ve wrestled tough competition before, but this one is different to me because I’m pretty driven and I’ve wanted it since I was a Pee Wee, really,” Craig said. “I’m feeling confident right now, more or less because I’ve worked hard for this. I’m better, stronger, faster and more confident than I was last year.”

Craig, a three-time state champ at 106 pounds, has never lost to a wrestler from Maine. He went 2-2 last year at New Englands, falling to the eventual champion and fourth-place finisher.

Added Del Gallo on what it would mean to win a New England title: “It would be awesome. It would be a great way to end my career as a high school wrestler. (I’ll) leave everything on the mat. Wrestle hard and be offensive.”

Del Gallo, a four-time Maine champ, has placed each year at New Englands. Last season he was fourth at 126 pounds despite missing most of the season because of injury.

Marshwood coach Matt Rix identified Craig, Del Gallo, Austin Shorey of Noble and Bradley Beaulieu of Marshwood as Maine’s top picks for individual honors.

“We’re due. We’re due as a state,” he said.

Shorey, a junior, is also in the 120-pound division. Four of his five losses this year have been to Del Gallo. The other was to Massachusetts champ Chris DeRosa of Billerica, whom Shorey will likely face if he wins his first match. As a sophomore at 120, Shorey won three matches at New Englands, including wins against the New Hampshire and Massachusetts top seeds.

Beaulieu is at 132 pounds. A three-time Class A champion, he was the New England runner-up at 126 pounds last season as a sophomore.

Del Gallo, Beaulieu and Craig are all undefeated this season.

Rix and Noble coach Kip DeVoll also pointed to Mountain Valley junior Caleb Austin, wrestling at 126, as someone capable of making a deep run. It will be Austin’s first trip to New Englands. DeVoll said his own wrestler at 126, Jake Martel, could also be a factor.

“At New Englands so much depends on the draw, because they don’t do real seeding,” DeVoll said. “Jake has a pretty good draw. The thing is, it’s just a meat grinder. Every match is like a state final and you have to be ready for it.”

DeVoll said Maine high school wrestling still has “one problem we need to fix.”

“We have a two-week break and everybody else just wrestled their all-state or state tournaments,” DeVoll said. “When you’re not competing for two weeks it makes a difference. It makes it tough.”

Skowhegan will have a strong contingent of wrestlers joining Craig as teammates Samson Sirois (126), Cooper Holland (132), Julian Sirois (152), Kameron Doucette (160) and Logan Stevens (182) will all be in action.

Winslow will qualified three representatives with Devin Vigue (113), Ryan Fredette (170) and Nate Beckwith (220), while Oak Hill’s Danny Buteau is scheduled compete at 120 pounds. Nokomis’ Christopher Wilson (195) and Hunter Glidden (285), as well as Cony’s Devon O’Connor (195) and Max Storey (220), will also represent Maine this weekend.

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