AUGUSTA — For the Mt. Ararat/Brunswick wrestling team, this one was personal.

The Eagles were a favorite for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A title a year ago, and had to watch as Camden Hills celebrated a victory by a mere 4.5 points.

They didn’t have to wait long for payback, however. Led by Most Outstanding Wrestler pick Ben Laurence and three other individual champions, Mt. Ararat/Brunswick scored 174 points and rolled to the KVAC A title, its first since 2008. Camden Hills was second at 151, followed by Skowhegan (123), Oxford Hills (121) and Nokomis (107.5).

So, did 2019 add any motivation for 2020?

“It absolutely did. It’s like, ‘What do we have to do?’ ” said coach Erick Jensen, who had six wrestlers make the championship final, all between 106 and 170 pounds. “This is one of the premier tournaments in Maine, and certainly one of the premier conferences in Maine. … I think they wrestled well, the whole team. Some kids that struggled early in the year got us a bunch of points in the early rounds.”

Another drought came to an end in Class B, where Belfast, led by 182-pound champion Brian White, won its first title since 2009. The Lions totaled 128 points to take down defending champion Medomak Valley (70), Mount View (55), Winslow (46) and MCI (41).

“We’ve got a great team. We’re on the young side, we’ve got four or five freshmen in our lineup, we’ve got a couple of sophomores, so half of our lineup is either freshman or sophomore year,” said coach Rick Kelley, whose team went 28-3 and lost only to Class A teams. “It’s very promising, it’s encouraging to do this well with such a young group.”

Connor Fournier (106) and Cameron Watts (220) joined White as finalists, while Brycen Kowalsky (120), Shea Farrell (132), Spencer LeClair (138), Caden Kowalsky (145), Brett Raio (152) and Laurence (170) made the finals for Mt. Ararat/Brunswick, and Kowalsky (5-0), Farrell (pin), LeClair (15-10) and Laurence (5-1) took titles.

The Class B Most Outstanding Wrestler award went to Mount View’s Mark Ward, who won last year’s state title at 145 pounds and began his pursuit of the 152-pound title by winning a second straight KVAC championship, made official with a 6-2 win over Raio.

“I knew I had a tough opponent in the finals. Coach (Hamilton Richards) told me to wrestle him like it’s New Englands,” Ward said. “I went out there, tried giving up as little points as possible and came away with the victory.”

Nokomis’s Calvin Peck avenged consecutive KVAC final losses, prevailing as the top seed at 126 pounds with a pin of Camden Hills’s Devin Hutcheson. Peck got to work early, shooting for Hutcheson twice to start the match, and taking him down with the second try.

“It’s been a long-time coming to get this, I’ve worked really hard for this,” said Peck, who reached 100 career wins with his first victory of the day. “Last year, I hated shooting. I took two shots all season. This season, I’ve really been trying to focus on pushing the aggression and going after it the entire match.”

Few wrestlers worked harder for a title than Skowhegan freshman Hunter McEwen, who won the 160-pound championship. McEwen needed overtime in the final to beat Morse’s Ben Brewer, eventually winning 5-4 in sudden death.

The overtimes weren’t an accident. McEwen knew he wouldn’t be able to pin Brewer right away, so he worked on making sure he’d be able to outlast him.

“This is like my ninth or 10th overtime match this year,” he said. “I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible with these kinds of wrestlers. Ben Brewer’s an amazing wrestler. Conserving energy against tougher opponents for me is my biggest factor. Being a freshman, it’s hard to compete against the juniors and seniors out here.”

Brewer nearly won at the end of the third period, but didn’t get the points for a takedown. That set up sudden death, where McEwen had to stay on top of Brewer for 30 seconds to win. A blood timeout with just over 20 seconds left helped McEwen find the energy he needed.

“Blood time really saved me,” he said. “I’d been sick the last few days.”

It was an opposite story at 285 pounds, where Winslow’s Alex Demers needed only 14 seconds to pin Skowhegan’s Brayden Doucette in the final. Doucette beat second seed Mohammad Aljendi of Cony, but was a second slow to counter Demers’s takedown attempt and couldn’t escape.

“My last match, I didn’t expect that. I was so nervous getting ready,” said Demers, who was third last year. “I always am for any final match. It just sometimes happens in wrestling. … You get a takedown, and sometimes there are a lot of mental things. Your opponent gets taken down and they’re like ‘Oh no, what do I do now?’ … It’s all a mental sport.”

Other titles went to Julian Henderson (106), Eric Andrews (113) and Ian Henderson (145) of Camden Hills, Erik Benner (195) of Medomak Valley and Jeffrey Worster (220) of Oxford Hills. Other finalists included Aiden Clark (120) and Robert Davies (132) of Skowhegan, Aaron Lettre (195) of Cony, Isaiah Morin (138) of Nokomis, Tucker Nicholas (170) of Mt. Blue, Dillon Worster (182) of Oxford Hills.


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