There are few things the Foxcroft Academy wrestling team hasn’t accomplished during Luis Ayala’s first 10 years as the Ponies’ head coach.
But one thing they haven’t done yet is win three consecutive state championships, a goal the team will seek to achieve this winter.
Foxcroft has won four Class C state championships under Ayala, including back-to-back crowns in 2004 and 2005 and again in 2011 and 2012, along with seven Eastern Maine titles and six Penobscot Valley Conference championships.
And the Ponies are poised to contend for all three postseason championships again come February if their start this season is any indication.
Foxcroft finished second to Class A power Noble of North Berwick at the Brewer Duals preseason meet, then last Friday defeated Class C rivals Dexter, Dirigo and Lisbon when the four rivals squared off along with Class A Brewer in their annual season-opening meet.
Foxcroft defeated Brewer 57-12, then topped Dexter 40-27 in a battle not only of local rivals but of the top two teams at last year’s Class C state meet.
The Ponies followed that with two more wins, 48-33 over Dirigo and 60-15 over Lisbon.
Ayala said none of the teams were where they hope to be two months from now when it comes time to contend for trophies, with Foxcroft coping with some early season injuries and still working to place wrestlers in their most effective weight classes.
Yet the coach was satisfied with the Ponies’ opening-night performance.
“It was good,” said Ayala, who entered the season with a 223-37 coaching record at Foxcroft. “We got some wins over some good teams, so it makes the kids feel good about themselves and it also motivates them to keep working hard.
“We’ve been there before, and as coaches the big thing is to keep everyone on an even keel because it’s a long season.”
Foxcroft returns four reigning Class C state champions in senior Wesley Stinson — a two-time winner — classmate Forrest Law, junior Corey Bjornson and sophomore Brooks Law.
That group is among a large contingent of returning wrestlers who qualified for last winter’s state meet, including Corbyn Bruce, Eli Olson, Isaac Whittemore, Todd Francis and Alex Sedore.
Then there is a freshman class led by Antonio Ayala — the coach’s son — and Brandon Brock, both of whom are expected to make immediate contributions after third-place finishes last spring at the New England middle-school championships.
Stinson (152 pounds), Sedore (285), Ayala (113) and Bjornson (195) each won all four of their matches at last Friday’s meet at Dexter, while Olson (106), Brooks Law (132), Forrest Law (145), Francis (160) and Brock (170) all finished 3-1.
Foxcroft was scheduled to have its first home meet Tuesday night, then trek to Rumford on Saturday for the Mountain Valley McDonald’s Tournament. The Ponies will also compete in the Noble Invitational at North Berwick later this month.
“We’ve got some tough meets coming up,” Ayala said. “Our goal is to be ready by the end of the season.”