AUGUSTA — Two years in the making, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference has a new wrestling champion.

Oxford Hills rode championships from Eitan Afrait at 170 pounds and Dillon Worster at 195 to take the KVAC Class A championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday, scoring 117.5 points to top Mt. Ararat/Brunswick (105), Camden Hills (89), Skowhegan (58) and Lawrence (54).

“The kids had an awesome day,” said Oxford Hills coach Tony Stevens, whose team was fourth in Class A in 2020. “Each week we get better and better, these guys were awesome today. I knew we’d be close, but it would be tough.”

The Vikings clinched the title when Worster pinned Lincoln Academy’s Corbin Drake in the final.

“That means a little bit,” he said. “I just took it as a normal match, didn’t think much of it. I’m going to go for the pin regardless of what’s at stake.”

In Class B, Belfast scored 107 points to repeat as champion, beating Morse (69), Erskine (56), Lincoln Academy (55) and Oceanside (47). Individual championships went to Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Brycen Kowalsky (126 pounds), Dash Farrell (132) and Shea Farrell (160), Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark (145) and Kobe Butters (285), Erskine’s Wynn Pooler (106) and Timber Parlin (182), Nokomis’ Isaiah Morin (152), Cony’s Jonny Lettre (195), Winslow’s Sam Schmitt (138), Camden Hills’ Julian Henderson (120) and Oceanside’s Maddie Ripley (113), who became the first female KVAC champion.


Kowalsky, Farrell and Henderson repeated as champions. For Kowalsky, it was his third title after winning at 120 in 2020 and 113 in 2019.

“It’s nice to have won it every year that I competed,” he said. “It’s kind of a relief that I didn’t choke it at the end. As I’m warming up and getting into a match, I get less and less nervous.”

Morin, Clark, and Worster won after being runners-up two years ago.

“It feels good to finally be able to get first place. This is only my second first place win in high school,” Morin said. “I just go in with a mindset, that nobody’s a champion until they beat me. You have to be confident when you go out there, or you’ve already lost the match.”

Wrestlers were happy to return to the typical KVACs atmosphere.

“With everything going on, I’m glad we’re having this tournament here, especially since we have all these spectators,” said Cony’s Nolan Turcotte, a wrestler at 138 pounds. “It’s just good to hear the whole crowd cheering for you. I’ve missed that so much. For most of my matches throughout my high school career, I just felt iffy on it, until it’s like those big matches and you just hear everyone in the crowd cheering for you.”


The meet always brings a competitive environment and a lively fan atmosphere, but after having to go through a season without competition due to COVID last winter, the return to normal felt all the more sweet.

“I like the intensity, I like it when you get a takedown and the whole crowd yells ‘Two!’ That’s fun,” Oxford Hills 160-pound senior Bristol Leahy said. “All the other tournaments, the (dual) meets, they were important, but there just wasn’t that fan factor into it. So this one’s cool.”

“You could just tell there is an energy in the building that’s been missing,” Cony coach Shawn Totman said. “I think people are getting the sense that this is special. It’s nice to have it back.”

There haven’t been too many opportunities to experience that feeling this season. Cancellations of weekend tournaments during the season forced teams to make them up with dual meets, and even those didn’t give many wrestlers a chance to compete regularly.

“We had Noble, we had a couple of preseason tournaments and that’s about it. We’ve had a bunch of tournaments canceled, it’s been hard,” said Skowhegan’s Clark. “We practice as hard as we can, five days a week mostly, unless we have a dual meet. But it’s hard sometimes.”

“It’s been all dual meets this year,” Morse coach Mike Bennett said. “Usually the whole month of December and the first couple of weeks of January are tournaments, and then you do that last three-week dual meet season. Well, from Dec. 1 to now has been dual meet season. (This) is very refreshing.”


There were three mats full of wrestling action in the late afternoon at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

There’s more to the tournament setting than just the competition. Tournaments bring a different kind of pressure, and managing oneself through an all-day event is a different challenge than showing up for a dual meet. Wrestlers this season haven’t had much of a chance to acclimate.

“You need to get used to that,” Totman said. “I don’t care how hard your practices are. It takes experience to prepare yourself for a tournament, especially as we get to the end of the year, the competition gets better and better and better (and there are) these long, grueling days. There are lessons that kids have to learn.”

Despite the challenges, the wrestlers who showed up at the Civic Center found ways to get themselves ready.

“It was hard getting the rust off after we didn’t wrestle last year,” Leahy said. “You’ve just got to give it your all during practices and matches throughout the year. It doesn’t matter who you win and who you lose to. You’ve just got to get better.”

Totman said it was clear teams had.

“At the beginning of the season, I said ‘Man, it’s just sloppy,'” he said. “You can tell, things have come a long way. … These kids should be proud of what they’ve been able to handle.”

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