It may be a new year, but the spirited wrestling competition between Belfast and Camden Hills of Rockport continues.
The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference rivals have split the last four Class B state championships, with Belfast winning in 2008 and 2009 and Camden Hills earning titles in 2007 and 2010.
And they’re expected to be among the chief contenders again this year, as evidenced by their showings Tuesday and Wednesday at the star-studded Noble Invitational tournament in North Berwick.
Belfast finished third among the 37 schools represented with 189 points, trailing only two-time defending Class A state champion Noble (244) and two-time reigning Class A runnerup Massabesic of Waterboro (211.5).
“The kids did a real good job,” said longtime Belfast coach Ted Heroux, who on Wednesday also celebrated his 48th wedding anniversary with wife Carolyn. “We’ve got a young team, and I was happy with the way we wrestled against that competition.”
Right behind Belfast was Camden Hills with 169.5 points, followed by fifth-place Mountain Valley of Rumford, the Class B state-meet runnerup last winter which finished with 154.5 points.
“It’s still early in the season, but we’re not doing too bad,” said Camden Hills coach Levi Rollins. “I think we’ve got a strong team, we’ve just got to put things together.”
Belfast was led at the Noble meet by senior Jordan Young, a two-time state runnerup at 112 pounds who outpointed two-time Class B state champion Ryan Burgess of Mountain Valley 8-5 in the 119-pound final.
Belfast also got second-place finishes from Evan Drinkwater at 103 pounds and Kornealius Wood at 171, a third from Brent Waterman at 125, a fourth from freshman Walker Roberts at 112, a fifth from Peter Kelley at 189 and a sixth from Justin Philbrook at 152.
Both Waterman and Wood are former state champions, Waterman at 119 last winter and Wood at 171 in 2009.
“Belfast has surprised me with how good they are,” said Rollins, “but they’ve got a couple of good freshmen and Kornealius Wood back, and that makes them a lot stronger.”
Camden Hills’ fourth-place finish was sparked by senior Jacob Powers, the reigning Class B state champ at 160 pounds who also won that weight class at Noble. Teammate Rhett Chase placed third at 285, while freshman Connor Winchenbach (103), Tom Cassidy (130) and Brandon Rich (140) each finished fourth while Max Bragg (135) was fifth and Brandon Graffam (189) was sixth.
Camden Hills currently is competing without one of its top wrestlers, sophomore Coleman Powers, a third-place finisher atthe 2010 state meet at 103 pounds. Powers has been sidelined by a collarbone injury since the team’s first meet of the season, but Rollins hopes he will be able to return to action in a couple of weeks.
Heroux expects Belfast, Camden Hills, Mountain Valley and Fryeburg Academy to be among the top challengers for the Class B title in 2011, though he says there is much lineup tinkering to be considered before the state meet is held at the Augusta Civic Center on Feb. 12.
Another step on that road to the conference, regional and state tournaments will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday when Belfast visits Camden Hills for their annual midseason dual meet.
“It’s a longstanding tradition that we wrestle each other during the season,” said Heroux. “A lot of people might think there are hard feelings between the teams but I know our coaching staff and Levi and their other coaches get along great, and Camden’s wrestlers come up here and work out and our kids sometimes go down to Camden.”
Rollins said his team will be hard-pressed to defeat the Lions next week, but his team is more focused on its long-range goal.
“It will definitely be a battle, but it will be tough for us without Coleman to beat them,” Rollins said. “But when it comes to tournament time, we work harder than every other team on the mat in practice and that’s when it will pay off.”
Other Eastern Maine wrestlers who stood out at this week’s Noble Invitational tournament included Zac Ragot of Washington Academy in East Machias, third in the 215-pound division; Marcus Eaton of Brewer, fourth at 285 pounds; two-time Class C state champion Scott Carpenter of Calais, fourth at 135; and Alex Charalambous of Brewer, fifth at 112.
Golden Bucks shine at Wells
Four members of the Bucksport wrestling team earned top-four finishes in their weight classes Thursday at the 17-school Wells Atlantic Invitational held at Wells High School.
The Golden Bucks were led by Jordan Fogg, who won the 152-pound division with a 4-2 decision over 2010 Class B 145-pound state champion Peter Bacchiocchi of Fryeburg Academy in their final.
Three other Bucksport wrestlers placed third in their weight classes: Jacob Stewart (140 pounds), Chris Powell (189) and Damon Klinedinst (215).
That quartet helped the Golden Bucks finish eighth in the team competition with 62 points, just behind Western C power Dirigo of Dixfield, which finished seventh with 64.5 points.
Class B Mountain Valley of Rumford won the Wells team title with 126.5 points, with Class A Marshwood of South Berwick second (104) and two-time defending Class C state champion Lisbon third with 104 points.
Ryan Gamblin of Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield finished third in the 135-pound weight class.