Belfast edges rival ’Jammers for title

Posted Feb. 01, 2009, at 9:08 p.m.

WALDOBORO, Maine — The Eastern Maine Class B wrestling championships played out largely according to form, with Belfast and Camden Hills of Rockport battling for top regional honors.

Perhaps the only Belfast wrestler not interested in previous form entering his championship match was senior Josh Robbins, who had lost three times earlier this season to Camden Hills’ Zac Fields.

So Robbins changed tactics, avenged those earlier frustrations and helped the Lions earn their second straight Eastern B crown during Saturday’s competition at Medomak Valley High School.

Coach Ted Heroux’s club, the defending state champion, finished with 208.5 points compared with 190 for runner-up Camden Hills. Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield was third with 90.5 points, followed by Caribou (82) and Mount Desert Island (70).

Robbins was one of nine Belfast wrestlers to reach the championship finals compared to six for Camden Hills, but his 130-pound match against Fields marked the only time during that round the Midcoast rivals met on the mat.

“There was pressure because I hadn’t beaten him all year,” said Robbins. “He’d beaten me three times so I changed my strategy going in. I knew he was better than me on his feet and I wanted to attack on my feet more.”

Robbins never trailed in the match, taking the lead with an early first-period takedown and earning a 9-2 decision.

“The biggest thing of the day was Robbins turning the tide on Fields,” said Belfast assistant coach Mike Cummings. “We kind of changed our thought process this week. We’ve been hanging back on our heels trying to be in a defensive stance, but we said this week we were just going to start attacking, and we got some of the re-actions we were looking for.

“We got into scrambles, and Josh is very good down on the mat in scramble positions, and any time you can make another kid wrestle the way you want him to wrestle, it helps.”

Robbins was one of seven Belfast wrestlers to earn individual EM titles among 10 Lions that qualified for next Saturday’s state championships at the Augusta Civic Center.

Senior Travis Spencer won his fourth regional championship with three victories by pin, the last over Roy Williams of MCI in 2:28 of the 189-pound final.

Spencer’s performance epitomized Belfast’s dominance of the upper weights, with Zach Shellabarger (152), Kote Aldus (160), Kornealius Wood (171) and Mark Smith (215) also winning their classes while Justin Boyle (285) finished second.

Jordan Young (112) also won for the Lions, while Phil Kyser placed second at 125 and Winston Poole was fourth at 103.

“Coming in we knew it would be really close so we knew we had to wrestle hard,” said Robbins. “We knew Camden was going to be right behind us the whole way. When we got nine people in the finals we knew we pretty much locked it up, and that the upper weights would take care of it.”

Camden Hills actually qualified more wrestlers — 11 — for the states with more top-four finishes than Belfast, including four individual champions.

That group was led by 103-pound senior Logan Rich, who defeated Ellsworth’s Brandon Goncalves by a 16-2 major decision in her final. Next week she’ll bid to become the first Maine schoolgirl wrestler to win an individual state title.

“Logan wrestled really well today, probably one of the best times I’ve seen her wrestle,” said Camden Hills coach Levi Rollins. “She’s practiced all year long really hard and never complained. She’s a team captain, a very good leader and she’s worked her butt off. She deserves everything she’s getting right now.”

Rich’s brother, sophomore Brandon Rich, won the 135-pound class, while Jack Simpkins (140) and Jacob Powers also won their weight classes. Fields and Max Bragg (119) each placed second for the Windjammers.

“I think we really wrestled the best we have all year long,” said Rollins. “Everyone was in the matches and wrestled tough. We’ll go home Monday and work really, really hard all week long and I think we’ve got a pretty good shot this year. I don’t know how far we are behind Belfast right now, but not by a whole lot.”

Brandon Wright paced MCI’s third-place effort by winning the 119-pound crown, while Williams and Patrick Hapworth (152) each placed second.

Caribou qualified six wrestlers for the states, led by 135-pound runner-up Lance Jandreau. Jason Case (103) and Andrew Adams (285) each placed third for the Vikings. MDI’s Camden Fernald finished second at 215, while Corey Hodgkins was third at 135.

Mark Heathcote of Central of Corinth won his third consecutive Eastern B championship at 285 pounds. Heathcote used a second-period escape to edge Boyle 1-0 in his championship match.

Dustin Vigue of Winslow won the 125-pound crown.

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