Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark, top, holds down Oxford Hills’ Rocco Hayden during the 145-pound championship final at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships on Feb. 5, 2022 at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Two of the area’s top wrestling teams are looking forward to making jumps in the 2022-2023 winter season.

After finishing seventh at the Class A state championships last season, Skowhegan returns several returning state champions. The River Hawks also boast a heavy amount of young, talented wrestlers.

“We’ve got some good returners,” Skowhegan co-coach Tenney Noyes said. “Last year, we had some light numbers. This year, we have some really good returners, but we have a lot of first-year wrestlers, a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores, guys who took some time off. Numbers are good. We’re young. We’ve got a ways to go, but it’s a long season.”

The River Hawks will be led by senior Aiden Clark, who won the 145-pound Class A title last year. He will be joined by fellow senior Kobe Butters, the defending 285-pound champion.

Noyes said the key to the season for the River Hawks won’t come from the veterans, but he development of the development of the younger wrestlers.

“Just getting them into the swing of things and getting some wins out of them,” Noyes said. “We kind of pride ourselves on our schedule each season, we have a really tough schedule. To be honest, sometimes (the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships) and regionals are easier than the tournaments that we hit. If we can get through that grind all year long, come tourney time, we’ll be sitting pretty good.”


Erskine’s Wynn Pooler, right, faces off against Lincoln’s Adam St. Cyr in the 106-pound final at the Class B state championship last season in Bath. Pooler won the match. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Cony, which is now in a co-op with Messalonskee, has had a pleasant surprise entering the season. Head coach Shawn Totman said the team has seen a drastic rise in numbers, the likes of which he hasn’t seen since before the coronavirus  pandemic.

“Our numbers were way down (last year), Totman said. “We ended last year with about eight kids on the team, but we finished well. The kids were great, they worked hard. It was great to get a state champ in Jonny Lettre. But I was really concerned about the future. Then, we ended up with 45 kids on our middle school team. I was like, ‘Wow, this is just weird.’ It made me feel like we’re coming out of COVID, when you have this many kids.

“We have 35 kids on the high school team right now, we have 21 freshmen,” Totman continued. “We’re probably as inexperienced as you can get as a wrestling team. But it’s been really fun. It’s a little bit different for everyone involved, because we haven’t had numbers like this in a while. But the excitement in the (wrestling) room, these kids are pumped for every practice. There’s a buzz in the room. It’s been so much fun for the last week and a half.”

Lettre leads the Rams entering the season. Lettre is the defending Class A champion at 220 pounds. This season, Lettre is going to move on to the heavyweight division (285 pounds).

Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook’s Jason Hart wrestles Cony’s Jonny Lettre during a 220-pound match at the Zeb Leavitt Memorial Invitational wrestling tournament last season at Cheverus High School in Portland. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

“Jonny is going to move up to heavyweight, but he looks unreal in practice,” Totman said. “He put on some muscle, he’s moving really well on the wrestling mat. Even as a lighter wrestler last year, I didn’t see some of the movement, some of the agility that I’m seeing out of him last year. I just feel like Jonny is going to have a good year.”

Mt. Blue will have talent returning under new head coach Mike Hansen. The Cougars return Steve Galkowski, a KVAC champion at 138 pounds. last season.

Another standout to watch in Class A will be Lawrence wrestler Colby Nadeau, who finished third at 125 pounds at the KVACs and fourth in Class A last season.

Wynn Pooler will enter the season at the area’s top wrestler in Class B. Pooler, of Erskine Academy, won the state title at 106 pounds last season, then went on to finish 12th in his class at New Englands. Pooler will be a favorite to repeat for a Class B title this season.

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