Located at the head of Penobscot Bay, the town of Bucksport in many ways epitomizes Down East Maine.
But come Saturday the Hancock County community will be the home of Western Maine Class C wrestling.
Bucksport High School will host this year’s Western C championship meet, a concession of sorts for the Maine Principals’ Association decision to move the Golden Bucks’ wrestling program from Eastern to Western Maine in an attempt to even out the number of schools in each regional division.
“I’ve yet to figure out how the geography works, but at least we’re hosting and not traveling this weekend,” said Bucksport coach Larry Clement. “However, it’s going to be a first for us where we have an opportunity to vie for a Western Maine championship.”
Defying geographic realities to balance the number of wrestling teams between East and West is not new — Westbrook and Windham currently field teams in Eastern Maine Class A, and Westbrook will host this Saturday’s Eastern A regional.
In Bucksport’s case, the Golden Bucks were among several schools that were moved from Eastern to Western C in wrestling, a plan that didn’t work out as originally planned when John Bapst of Bangor and Calvary Chapel of Orrington did not field teams this year due to low participation rates.
Western C did gain two additional teams, however, when Winslow and Mount View of Thorndike — two other schools not exactly nestled in the state’s western foothills — were shifted from Eastern to Western Maine at the same time they dropped by enrollment from Class B to Class C.
Under the current alignment, Eastern C currently fields 11 full teams compared with eight in Western C.
Dirigo of Dixfield, which last week won the Mid-State League championship, is considered the favorite to win the Western C regional.
But Bucksport also should contend to be among the top schools in the meet that will advance top finishers in each weight division to the Class C state championship meet Feb. 18 at Fryeburg Academy.
The Golden Bucks had four individual champions at last Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference meet, with Matt Stewart (106 pounds), Jacob Stewart (152), Jordan Fogg (160) and Damon Klinedinst (285) all winning their weight classes while Chris Powell was second at 195, K.P. Hilaire placed third at 220 and Alex Brown was fourth at 120.
How Bucksport will fare against its Western Maine competition remains to be seen, however, because of the lack of regular-season competition between the Golden Bucks and the rest of the field.
“Our schedule is a PVC schedule, so there are schools in the West that we’ve never seen,” said Clement. “It’s clearly going to be a tournament that we don’t have a lot of experience with going in. We know the kids we’re facing, but I like to have head-to-head matchups so you know what you’re getting into and can plan accordingly and we don’t have that.”
What the regional will give Bucksport is a look at some of the top wrestlers from Western Maine that it also will face a week later at states.
“The good thing is we’ll see those kids at states as well,” said Clement, “but it’s going to be interesting because the numbers are down at a lot of schools so the tournament won’t be as deep as in years past.”