TOPSHAM — There’s nothing unusual about seeing Skowhegan reign supreme at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference wrestling championships. And seeing Winslow atop the list is becoming pretty familiar as well.

The old champions were the new champions Saturday, as both the Indians and Black Raiders repeated as conference champions. Skowhegan won the A division with 148 points, edging host Mt. Ararat (145.5), Oxford Hills (126), Nokomis (123) and Cony (81). Winslow won the B title with 115 points, topping both Erskine and Oceanside (71) and Belfast (65).

It was the second straight conference title for Winslow, which was led by first-place finishes from Ryan Fredette at 182 pounds and top seed Ben Abbott at 195.

“I think it’s meaningful to the school district to have that recognition that wrestling is a sport that can be respected, and it’s something for younger kids to aspire to,” first-year coach Tony Dalisio said. “I think that’s what we get out of such things.”

It hasn’t always been that way. Just two years ago Winslow was in full rebuilding mode, having just replaced a coach and gone into a season with a season-less roster. Now the Black Raiders are the model for the class.

“It’s been incredible. Freshman, sophomore year we weren’t really a big team, we only had a couple of wrestlers,” Abbott said. “Now, having an almost full team and being able to compete well against other Class A schools and Class B schools, it’s amazing.”

Abbott had an excellent performance for the Black Raiders, notching two pins before beating Cony’s Nic Mills, 4-1, in the final. He immediately followed Fredette, who had three straight pins — all in under a minute — before scoring a 10-0 win over Oxford Hills’ Zuka Mabior, whom he had already beaten twice before.

“I pretty much knew I was going to win the last match. I pinned him and teched him already this year,” he said. “Most of wrestling’s in your head. Obviously it takes skill, but it’s all in your head, pretty much.”

Devon Vigue (120), Patrick Hopkins (160) and Keenan Janeski (285) were third-place finishers as consolation winners for the Black Raiders. The finishes helped nail down the KVAC title, though Abbott said the event is best served as a preparatory step for the regional and state meets that lie ahead.

“It’s just a big confidence-booster, going into the real postseason,” he said. “It’s really important to make sure you have the kinks worked out so you can keep competing at the top of your game.”

Skowhegan was led by first-place finishes from Cody Craig at 106 pounds, Rick Oberg at 120 and Samson Sirois at 132. Craig finished his run in style, mounting a 16-2 lead on Cony’s Noah Dumas before pinning him at 3:34.

“I know he’s tough. I’ve wrestled him before,” Craig said. “I’m just playing my strength, which is neutral. I’m really good on my feet, and I can open him up and pick people apart from there. … I like to get a nice, big lead, and get right in their heads.”

Oberg had a different path to his victory, rallying from a 6-5 deficit with eight third-period points.

“It was in the back of my mind,” Oberg said of the score entering the final period. “I was thinking ‘I just need a few turns, some points, and I can fight back.”

His match was halted midway through when his lip began bleeding, and Oberg said the stoppage rejuvenated him.

“I got that extra boost of adrenaline,” he said.

Austin Merrill (113 pounds) and Jon Bell (170) also made the finals in their weights, while Cooper Holland (152) had a top consolation finish to help guide the Indians to their fourth straight conference title — though the Eagles of Mt. Ararat, who led Skowhegan by 3.5 points entering the championship round, didn’t let it happen without a fight.

“We really didn’t expect to win a KVAC title this year,” coach Brooks Thompson said. “We had four starting seniors graduate last year, all four state placers, all four KVAC placers. … This is a huge surprise for us, to be honest.”

Nokomis rode a pair of victories to its fourth-place showing. Josh Brown won at 113 pounds, handling Merrill in a 14-3 decision, while Quinton Richards prevailed at 152 pounds after recording a third-period pin to finish off a hard-fought match with Oceanside’s Ben Ripley.

Erskine’s Jakob Peavey was the 285-pound champion, notching a pair of pins before stopping Cony’s Mitchell MacFarland, 7-1, in the final. David Wilson reached the 160-pound final for Nokomis.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.