High school wrestling’s penultimate Saturday features regional championships in Classes A and B, and a different twist in Class C.
Eastern Maine championship meets will be held at Westbrook High School (Class A) and Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield (Class B).
Jay High School will host a first-time Class C qualifying meet. Wrestlers from schools around the state in that division will compete, with the top eight finishers in each weight class advancing to next Saturday’s Class C state championships at Dexter Regional High School.
The change in the Class C format was made because of the dearth of full Class C teams in Western Maine. Last year, Western C fielded only four full teams — Lisbon, Dirigo of Dixfield, Madison and Monmouth Academy — while the East had approximately a dozen full teams.
As a result, last winter’s Western C regional required just 33 bouts to qualify wrestlers for the state meet, compared to 178 bouts in Eastern Maine.
The original solution was to move four schools — Bucksport, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, Calvary Chapel of Orrington and John Bapst of Bangor — from Eastern Maine to Western Maine. When that proposal met resistance, Plan B was a qualifying meet similar to that used in Class D cheering.
The qualifying-meet format has drawn complaints from Eastern Maine coaches, both because their wrestlers lose a championship opportunity still available in Classes A and B, and because there could be scenarios in which wrestlers at the qualifier who lose early in the championship bracket and then battle back through the con-solation bracket could have to forfeit their final match under a rule that limits competitors to a maximum of five matches per day.
That took place during last Saturday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships, where six consolation finals were forfeited because wrestlers had reached the five-match limit in the consolation semifinals.
Dexter enters the Class C qualifier coming off its first Penobscot Valley Conference title since 2001. Coach Adam Gudroe’s Tigers contingent includes four wrestlers who won individual conference titles in Vincent Malinauskas (112 pounds), Lee Gustin (160), Doug Richardson (189) and Zach Poirier (285).
Bucksport, the 2009 PVC and Eastern C champion, sports a considerably different lineup this year but still finished a solid second at the PVCs thanks in part to individual victories from Jacob Stewart (140), Jordan Fogg (145) and River Robertson (171).
Other top Eastern Maine competitors at the C qualifier should include Fred Lear of John Bapst, named outstanding wrestler at the PVCs after winning the 152-pound title, and Scott Carpenter and Spencer McCormick of Calais.
Carpenter, competing at 125 pounds, is undefeated against in-state competition this year after winning the Class C state title at 119 pounds last winter. McCormick, an Eastern Maine champ last year at 135, will be one of the top seeds at 145.
In Class B, Camden Hills of Rockport will seek to return to the championship platform after a two-year absence.
The Windjammers are coming off a solid effort in winning last weekend’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships, where they outscored runner-up Morse of Bath, a Western B team, 187-160 to earn the victory.
Coleman Powers (103) and Zach Fields (130) were Camden Hills’ lone individual champions, but Brandon Rich (140) and Jacob Powers (160) finished second, Thomas Cassidy (125) placed third and R.J. Muir (152) finished fourth as coach Levi Rollins’ club thrived in the lower and middle weight classes.
Belfast, the two-time defending state and regional champion, also sports a much different roster this winter but placed second among Eastern B schools at the KVACs. The Lions got individual conference championships from Jordan Young (112) and Brent Waterman (119).
Ellsworth was the top Class B team at the PVCs with its third-place finish. The Eagles were led by second-place finishes by Dakota Jewett (145), Dakota Hellum (152) and Michael Phillipon (171).
Other top individuals will include Medomak Valley of Waldoboro’s Steven Genthner, named outstanding wrestler in the KVAC Class B ranks after winning the 145-pound conference title; KVAC 152-pound winner Revelin Goewey of MCI, and Ryan Botting of Hermon, the state runner-up at 140 last year.
In Class A, defending champion Cony of Augusta will be among the favorites in the team competition.
Brewer, which finished seventh among Class A teams at the KVAC meet, is hoping to qualify several of its competitors for the state meet through top-four finishes at the regional.