LINCOLN, Maine — While tournament time shines its spotlight on individual stars in many sports, for wrestling depth is most pivotal to team success.
Bucksport’s depth was the best at Mattanawcook Academy on Saturday, as the Golden Bucks produced top-four finishes in 11 weight classes to win its second Penobscot Valley Conference championship in three years.
“We finished about where we thought we would,” said Bucksport senior Steve Klenowski. “We knew that we had a good chance to win it, but we knew we had to pull out some tight matches.”
Klenowski pulled out a tight 4-2 victory over Matthew Theriault in the 160-pound championship final, and was one of three Golden Bucks to win individual titles. Senior captain Shawn Powell won at 152 with a 14-0 major decision over Ellsworth’s Dakota Hellum, while Josh Dunbar edged Dexter’s Zach Poirier 7-4 to capture the 215-pound crown.
Bucksport finished with 190 points overall, comfortably ahead of second-place Dexter (155). Penobscot Valley of Howland (97) edged defending champion Foxcroft Academy (87) for third place, while Fort Kent (69.5) rounded out the top five in the 19-school field.
“We’ve been on a roll for the last couple of weeks,” said Bucksport coach Larry Clement. “The kids have really been backing each other, and we just brought that momentum into the tournament and from 125 right up to heavyweight we had kids who were determined to finish as high as they could.”
Bucksport got second-place efforts from Dale Sweet (125 pounds), River Robertson (171) and Robbie Maguire (285), thirds from Jordan Fogg (135), Bruce Rumney (140), senior captain Ray Wood (145) and Craig Woodard (189), as well as a fourth from freshman Jacob Stewart at 130.
Dexter had the most individual champions, including 189-pound Doug Richardson, the only wrestler to repeat his PVC championship performance from a year ago after pinning Mattanawcook’s Matt Johnson in 3:42. Brothers Michael (112) and Brian (130) O’Connor also won their weight classes, as did Ron Harvey at 140.
Coach Adam Gudroe’s club also got a second from Poirier, thirds from Cody Caron (160) and John Johnson (171) and a fourth from Michael Ellis (119) to stay within striking distance of Bucksport throughout the meet.
“We give a lot of respect to Dexter, they’re an incredible tournament team,” said Clement. “We knew the numbers should play out the way they did today, but it doesn’t matter on paper, it matters on the mat and our kids really stepped up to that challenge.”
First-place finishes by David Sirois (103) and Greg Rowley (119) helped Penobscot Valley earn third place, its best finish at the meet since placing second in 2004. Theriault and Brandon King (135) each finished second, while C.J. Stratton was fourth at 285 pounds.
Foxcroft Academy was led by 125-pound champion Kaleb Mann, as well as 285-pound Andrew Larson, who outpointed defending Class B state champion Mark Heathcote 9-3 in an early round match and followed that with back-to-back pins to win his weight class.
Larson, who finished second to Heathcote at last year’s PVCs before going on to finish third at the Class C state championships, was unseeded entering Saturday’s meet because he had not made weight until the previous weekend and thus had been unable to compete in matches.
He also had not had much previous success against Heathcote, who had not been feeling well entering the meet.
“I wrestled him three times last year, and he beat me every time,” said Larson. “Most of the time it’s because he rolled me, so I just tried to make sure he couldn’t roll me today.”
Also helping the Ponies earn their fourth-place finish were Mark Smith, third at 103, Trevor Weymouth, fourth at 112, and Dillon Hutchinson, fourth at 135.
Fort Kent, which earlier in the week had edged Caribou for the Aroostook County championship, went 3-1 in the consolation finals to earn its fifth-place finish. Cody Lozier (112), Spencer Levesque (125) and Curtis Lozier (130) each finished third, while Austin Theriault was fourth at 152.
Perhaps the most dramatic final of the day came at 135, where Caribou’s Lance Jandreau was trailing Penobscot Valley’s King on points late in the second period before using a sudden reversal and pin to win the match in 3:57.
Jacob Ferland of Mattanawcook Academy was named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler, scoring two wins by pin before outpointing Andrew Jipson of Penobscot Valley 12-7 in the semifinals and then scoring a 9-0 major decision over Bucksport’s Robertson in the 171-pound championship match.
And Ryan Grover, the only wrestler representing Sumner of East Sullivan, earned the 145-pound individual title. After scoring an opening-round pin over Abdul Sbayi of Mattanawcook, he earned a 14-6 major decision over Bucksport’s Wood in the semifinals and then pinned Brent Andrews at 2:34 of the championship match.