The top wrestlers in Maine will meet in Newport on Saturday with one goal in mind.

Get to New Englands.

Several area wrestlers — veterans and rookies alike — will hit the mat at Nokomis High School for the New England Qualifier. Each weight class has an eight-person bracket, made up of the top four wrestlers from the state championship meets from each weight class — from both Class A and Class B.

The top three finishers of each weight class at Saturday’s meet will move on to the New England tournament, which will take place March 2-3 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy in Providence, Rhode Island.

Leading the way for the area’s Class A schools is Skowhegan. The Indians have four wrestlers participating at the qualifier, including state champions Jake Craig (106 pounds) and Samson Sirois (132).

Craig — a freshman — is carrying on a family legacy. His brothers, Cody and Ty, are each former state champions. With Jake’s 22-7 technical fall victory over Bonny Eagle’s Colby Frost last weekend at the Class A state championships, a Craig brother has won a state title each year for the last half-decade.

“I think he’s more battled tested (than his brothers),” Skowhegan co-head coach Tenney Noyes said. “The reason for that is his brothers. Ty Craig, very tough, Cody, got beat up by Ty quite a bit and can hold his own. And of course Jake got beat up by the both of them even more. He’s rolled with the best of them.”

Sirois is coming off a major career milestone. Not only did he capture another state title, but the senior picked up his 200th career victory in the process.

Noyes said Sirois’ greatest asset as a wrestler is his ability to stay on top of an opponent.

“Samson’s transitions are awesome,” Noyes said. “You watch him when he starts to turn a guy, and the kid can be bridging. With anybody else, the kid is probably squirting out of there — getting to his belly and getting to his base — his transitions on top — just working, keeping a guy where he wants them and catching them in bad spots — he’s just great at that.”

Teammates Richard Oberg (120) and Jonathan Nadeau (182) have also qualified for the meet.

Nokomis — which finished third at the Class A championships — will have three wrestlers competing. The group includes Quinton Richards (champion at 152), James Boyd (champion, 220) and David Wilson (second place, 160).

Cony will send two wrestlers, 195-pound champion Nic Mills, and Noah Dumas, who finished second at 120.

Mount View — which finished third at the Class B state championships at Wells High School last weekend — will send four wrestlers to the qualifier, including two state champions. It was a goal of head coach Hamilton Richards to have a successful postseason, but the Mustangs even furthered his expectations.

“(A strong finish) was the goal we had, but a lot of times, the early-season goal and what you actually accomplish aren’t the same thing,” Richards said. “The kids actually stepped up and managed to finish well. I wanted to crack top four at regionals, we managed to do that. We did even better at the state meet. I think we got dialed in better and better by the state meet and toward the end of the season.”

Leading the team will be Mark Ward (champion, 138), Zach Ward (champion, 145), Jason Barnard (third place, 160) and Nathan Fuller (third place, 285) Fuller has actually been training with Erskine’s Jakob Peavey — the Class A champion at the same weight — and they could very well face each other Saturday.

Richards’ message to his team, this late in the season and with much on the line, is to simply stay focused

“The big thing to do is to try to get them to stay focused,” Richards said. “It’s a long season, and by the time you get to this point, you’ve got a lot of time invested (on the mat). This is where some kids start to lose some focus, and it’s where you start to lose some matches.”

Maine Central Institute and Madison will each send two representatives in Newport. The Huskies will have ZyAnthony Moss (126 champion) and Tyler Baker (third place, 113). The Bulldogs are led by 285-pound champion Seth Padelford, accompanied by Josh Savage (third place, 132).

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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