Most of the top high school wrestlers in Maine are off to New Haven, Conn., this weekend for the 45th annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships that begin Friday night.
The tournament, which for the first time features double-elimination competition for all wrestlers through the semifinals, continues through Saturday evening on eight mats at Hillhouse High School.
Each of the three individual state champions from Maine are eligible to participate, as well as the top three wrestlers from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, the top four competitors from Connecticut and the top six finishers from Massachusetts.
Two-time Class B state champion Belfast will be attempting to improve on its third-place finish in the team competition last winter and will have a deeper cast than a year ago.
The Lions will be led by defending 160-pound New England champion Kote Aldus and 189-pound Travis Spencer, a four-time state champion who placed third at last year’s New Englands. Each is top-seeded in his weight class among Maine representatives.
In addition, 152-pound Class B state champion Zach Shellabarger and 215-pound state champ Mark Smith will represent Belfast at the New Englands for the first time.
Other Mainers considered top contenders for individual New England honors include Gardiner’s Matt DelGallo, the 119-pound Class A state champion who placed fifth in the New Englands at 112 last year; and 145-pound Class A state champ Joey Eon of Massabesic of Waterboro, a four-time state champion who finished fourth at the New Englands last March and third two years ago.
Other Eastern Maine wrestlers slated to compete in the New Englands include Brandon Wright of Pittsfield’s Maine Central Institute and Scott Carpenter of Calais at 119 pounds; Zac Fields of Camden Hills of Rockport at 130; Jack Simpkins of Camden Hills and Ron Harvey of Dexter at 140; Dillon White of Skowhegan at 160; Doug Richardson of Dexter at 189 and Mark Heathcote of Central of Corinth at 285.
The top six finishers in each weight class earn All-New England status.