SOUTH PARIS — Jake Peavey knows the last time Erskine Academy produced a state wrestling champion. He knows the name of the person credited with winning that individual title, and he’s even willing to take a pretty good stab at what weight class it came in.

It’s not because Peavey is some stat geek or possesses an oddly-functioning brain that harbors minute details for months and years on end. No, Peavey knows that Jeff Parks won an individual state wrestling championship at 135 pounds in 2000 for one simple reason.

Peavey aims to be the wrestler to end the Eagles’ drought at the Class A state meet Saturday in Sanford.

“Obviously, we’ve all got kind of a chip on our shoulder because it’s been so long since anyone’s produced the way we want to at states,” said Peavey, a senior. “I think setting that goal — I’ve been there twice and it hasn’t come out the way I wanted — each year it’s put a chip on my shoulder. It’s not fun getting there twice and coming home with second place. That’s my motivation.”

Peavey is already the most accomplished heavyweight in school history. With his second straight 285-pound Class A North championship last weekend at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Peavey became the first wrestler in Erskine history to top the 150-win mark.

He’s also the first to top 100 pins in his career, racking up No. 106 in the regional finals over Buckfield’s Shawn Hermon.

That pin took all of 52 seconds to finish off.

“The big thing about it is I’m getting after it,” Peavey said. “I lost by points last year (in the state final) and the big thing is I don’t want to leave anything up to chance. It’s just getting after it and working aggressively in practice and working hard with the guys so I know I can go that full six minutes if I have to.”

Peavey was the state runner-up at 285 last winter. He went to the New England championships and has aims on making the podium when he most likely returns to that meet in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 2-3. The top three finishers in the state meet represent Maine at New Englands.

Erskine coach Pat Vigue believes anything is possible for Peavey.

“Mike (Sprague) and Jake, especially, have some big goals,” Vigue said. “They both went to New Englands last year and got a taste of it. They want to get back again. They’ve got everything they need now, it’s just honing the skills and being fresh at the right time.”

Peavey is not Erskine’s only soldier entering battle at the state meet this weekend. A senior, Sprague also won his second consecutive regional title last weekend at 126 pounds. Like Peavey, Sprague has his sights set on an individual title and a podium finish at New Englands.

“Jake and I have goals of being state champs, because we haven’t had one here in 18 years, but also the Triple Crown — KVACs, regionals and states because we’ve never had one of those either. We’re really looking forward to that.”

Sprague defeated Oxford Hills’ Jaden David 8-5 in their regional final in a matchup of a bout at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships a week earlier. Despite his preference of squaring off against wrestlers he has no prior experience with, Sprague built a 6-2 lead through two periods in the final and then ground out his way to victory.

That type of effort was a sign of Sprague’s maturation process on the mat.

“I prefer seeing someone new, because then I feel like I’m more aggressive,” Sprague said. “Like with Jaden, I’d seen him before and I felt like I’m not as aggressive when I wrestle him. When it’s someone new, I’m more ready to attack him and show him who I am.”

Vigue said he gave up a long time ago trying to refine either Peavey or Sprague’s technical abilities. Instead, his role is to help them find their peak in time for the tournament season, which they now find themselves right in the thick of.

How to best gear up for the big meets can be difficult for young wrestlers to ascertain, something both Peavey and Sprague admit they’ve learned to handle much better now that they are upperclassmen.

“A lot of it is experience,” Peavey said. “Starting as freshman, you tend to overthink things. You tend to overlook guys or get it set in your head that a certain guy can’t be beat. You get things set in your head, but you really have to go out and take it one match at a time because nothing is set in this sport. Anything can happen.”

“You don’t want to peak in the middle of the season and have some bad days at regionals or states, because then you’re done. You really do have to peak now,” Sprague said. “To win a state championship — I’ve already done what I can with my moves and my conditioning. It’s just about fine-tuning the tools in my toolbag and just getting mentally prepared. It’s all up here in your head.”

While teams like Nokomis, Cony, Skowhegan and Oxford Hills head to the state meet with team championships within their reach, Erskine pins its hopes on individuals. Senior Brock Glidden, who lost to Camden Hills’ Noah Lang in the 145-pound regional final, is the only other Eagle to qualify for states.

“A state championship is realistic for them,” Vigue said of Peavey and Sprague. “(Peavey) wants to get on the podium at New Englands, and I think that’s possible for him. It’s going to be tougher for Mike. Possible? Sure. The kids he lost to last year in pretty close matches ended up coming in third and fifth, so he was there. You can’t make any mistakes that day. You’ve got to have a little bit of luck.”

No matter what happens in the next couple of weeks, one thing is certain. The long Erskine title drought has its best chance in a decade to finally come to an end — and the Eagles’ senior class is leaving the program stronger than when they found it.

“It’s an honor to be able to have done what I’ve done,” Peavey said. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, and I have an awesome family that has been nothing but amazing helping me out. I just want to set the bar high and give an example for other kids to look up to. If I can do that, at the end of the day it’s worth more than any medal I can earn.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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