LINCOLN, Maine — All the pre-meet scoring of how the Penobscot Valley Conference wrestling championships might turn out left Dexter coach Adam Gudroe feeling little but uncertainty.
So his team went out and put the mystery to rest.
The Tigers relied on the quality of their depth — including four individual champions — to earn their first PVC title since 2001 on Saturday by topping a 19-school field competing at Mattanawcook Academy.
Dexter, which had placed second at the PVCs each of the last three seasons, scored 177 points to top defending champion Bucksport, which finished second.
Bucksport scored 145.5 points to edge third-place Ellsworth (140.5), while Penobscot Valley of Howland (119) and Fort Kent (110.5) rounded out the top five, followed by Foxcroft Academy (97) and Caribou (94.5).
“I scored this match 27 times, I’m telling you, trying to think of all the possible outcomes, and every single one came out close,” said Gudroe. “Nothing came out where we were going to be the winner definitively.
“But the kids stepped up.”
Dexter advanced six wrestlers to the championship finals, led by senior Doug Richardson who scored three pins to win his third conference title at 189 pounds.
He was the only wrestler at the meet to successfully defend a 2009 individual championship, pinning Matt Johnston of Mattanawcook Academy in 47 seconds to win the final.
“My first match kind of went not the way I planned,” said Richardson. “I wanted to get done as fast as I could to get ready for the other matches, but I ended up wrestling my best in the finals match anyway.”
Seniors Lee Gustin (160 pounds) and Zach Poirier (285) also won their weight classes for Dexter, and the Tigers got a big boost early in the finals when sophomore Vincent Malinauskas won at 112.
Dexter got runnerup finishes from Tyler Salisbury (103) and Andrew Levensalor (125), while Andy Adams — who began the season as a junior varsity performer — finished third at 119.
“We all performed extraordinary today,” said Richardson. “We came out and did exactly what coach wanted us to do. We wrestled hard, and left everything on the mat.”
Bucksport, which graduated nine starters from last year’s team, got individual victories from Jacob Stewart (140), Jordan Fogg (145) and River Robertson (171). Dale Sweet (135) and Chris Powell (189) each finished third, while Alex Brown (103) and Damon Klinedinst (215) placed fourth.
“Outside of one senior and one junior we have a bunch of sophomores who are starting to come into their own,” said Bucksport coach Larry Clement. “We were hoping for a top-five finish, and for us to come out second is a huge accomplishment for such a young team.”
Ellsworth was led by second-place finishes from Dakota Jewett (145), Dakota Hellum (152) and Michael Phillipon (171).
Old Town, which finished eighth in the team standings with 79.5 points, was the only other school to crown more than one individual champion. Kiowa Vickrey won the 130-pound title, while Lee Larry rallied to pin Zac Ragot of Washington Academy of East Machias with 2.8 seconds left in the 215-pound championship match.
“It was hard, I put everything I had in that match,” said Larry, who earlier in the week had earned his 100th career victory. I treat every match like it’s my last.
“I knew I had just enough time to get him to the ground and get my points.”
Among other champions, 119-pound Bryan Malo of Piscataquis of Guilford earned the Pirates their first individual conference title since the school reinstated the sport in the 2007-08 season after a long absence.
Other titlists were Mark Smith of Foxcroft (103), Brendan Wood of Caribou (125), Josia Moore of George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (135), and Fred Lear of John Bapst of Bangor (152).