BUCKSPORT — Dirigo’s wrestlers made a wager with coach Doug Gilbert before Saturday’s Western C wrestling championships. The Cougars will have to wait until Monday’s practice to find out just how friendly a wager it was.
Dirigo easily defended its regional crown at Bucksport High School, posting seven individual champions and 12 wrestlers in the top four. Madison finished second, 75 points behind, followed by Lisbon and Monmouth.
Since all the Cougars needed to do to ensure a championship Saturday was to make sure the bus didn’t break down on the ride east, senior Zack White decided to make things interesting by offering a deal to Gilbert: If the Cougars eclipsed 200 points, the coaches would have to run wind sprints at practice on Monday. If the players fell short of that number, they would have to run an extra wind sprint for every point shy.
The Cougars finished with 181 points.
“That will teach them,” Gilbert said with a smile. “It was tough. We had so many byes to try and get 200 points. I thought it was a pretty good bet from a coach’s standpoint.”
“He [Gilbert] made 200 points sound easy,” White protested.
White was able to console himself by winning the 220-pound championship and becoming the fifth Dirigo wrestler to reach the 100 career victories milestone this season. He was also pleased with the Cougars’ overall showing one week away from their ultimate goal, the state title.
“We had, what, seven out of nine kids in the finals win, so you can’t be mad about that,” said White, a senior who pinned Winslow’s Sean Cote at 3:49 of the final. “States are the big thing. We’ve been circling Feb. 9 for a long time and knocking off Foxcroft, not letting them get a three-peat.”
Griffyn Smith (106), Jesse Hutchinson (145), Brett Whittemore (152), Thomas Barnett (160), D.J. Webber (170) and Nelson Pepin (182) also picked up individual titles for Dirigo.
The Cougars have eight seniors on this year’s squad, more wrestlers than the entire rosters for most of their competitors. They have finished first or second in their region every year for each of the last 18 years.
“We wanted to put 10 in the finals. We only got nine, but we wanted five regional champions and we ended up with seven,” Gilbert said. “We told them we’ve got to set the table for next week. You can’t think of this as a regional tournament. You’ve got to think of it as a two-day tournament, regionals this week and states next week. The better we set ourselves up this week, the better our chances are next week.”
Second place finishes by Misty Steward (113) and Lucas McDonald (195), third-place finishes by Reilley Lombardi (132) and Cliff Boynton (285) and a fourth-place by Gus Brown (120) means Dirigo will be well-represented at the Augusta Civic Center next week.
Lisbon, which edged Monmouth by one point for third place, will send a quintet, led by champions J.D. Martin (113) and Zachary Stevens (132).
Martin and Stevens competed in the two smallest weight classes, which consisted of two and three wrestlers, respectively. That meant waiting around all day to wrestle, and wondering whether regionals will prepare them sufficiently for states.
“It’s tough,” said Stevens, who won the 120-pound state and regional titles last year. “It’s tough to get ready for your match. All you can do is get loosened up and take every match to the state finals. I’m just happy that I won and stood on top of the podium. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
“It’s kind of a long day, but it didn’t come out too bad,” said Martin, who pinned Steward at 1:27. “I’ve gotten a lot better since last year. There are things I could have done better in, but overall, it went well.”
Tyler Bard, the runner-up at 138, and Ashley Patten and Ben Kates, who finished third at 120 and 160, respectively, also advanced to states for the Greyhounds.
Monmouth will have five wrestlers competing next week, led by 126-pound champion Ryan Scott.
Scott’s match with Ryan Kiah of John Bapst was perhaps the best match of the finals. After a wild, back-and-forth second period, the wrestlers were locked in an 11-11 tie, with Scott on his stomach and Kiah on top, as time was winding down. Scott’s reversal with three seconds left secured a dramatic 13-11 victory.
“I was trying to finish the match with a reverse,” Scott said. “I didn’t want to reverse him and then have him reverse me.”
Scott kept his coach in suspense in the process.
“He’s good on bottom and getting out of bottoms, so when he was on bottom, tie score, coming into the last 30 seconds, I was pretty confident that he would get out. But the time kept ticking by and kept ticking by and kept ticking by,” Monmouth coach Shawn Schultz said.
Monmouth’s Stewart Buzzell, the 145 runner-up, will join Scott in Augusta, along with consolation round winners Emily LeVasseur (106) and James Gambino (138) and fourth-place finisher Angus Koller (152).