A proposal to establish a qualifying meet to advance the state’s top high school wrestlers to the annual New England championships awaits approval Thursday from the Maine Principals’ Association general membership during its spring conference at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.
The proposal for a New England qualifier already has received the unanimous endorsement of the MPA’s Wrestling Committee and Interscholastic Management Committee, according to Chris Chessie, principal at Wells Junior High School and chairman of the MPA Wrestling Committee.
“It would be very good for our sport,” said Chessie. “It’s gotten great support all through the process, and now this is the final step.”
Currently the individual state champions from Classes A, B and C in each of the 14 weight classes automatically qualify for the New Englands.
Under the proposal that seeks final approval Thursday, all wrestlers who qualify for the state meet in each class and each weight division will be eligible for the New England qualifying event, with the ultimate qualifiers then to be determined on the mat.
“This allows the kids to decide who’s going to represent the state, and it will let the wrestling take care of itself,” said Chessie.
The New England qualifying meet, if approved, also would alleviate a current time gap of as much as a month between Maine’s state meet and the New England championships, which typically are held on the first weekend of March.
Thirteen Maine high school wrestlers, including three who earned All-American status last year, have registered to compete in the 24th annual NHSCA National Wrestling Championships to be held April 3-7 at the Virginia Beach (Va.) Convention Center.
Leading the Maine contingent will be three-time state champion Brent Waterman of Belfast, two-time state champ Cody Hughes of Marshwood of South Berwick and 2013 state titlist Michael Curtis of Wells, each of whom had top-eight finishes at the nationals a year ago to gain All-American recognition.
Waterman, the 2012 New England champion at 126 pounds, was on track to win a fourth straight Maine Class B individual championship this winter until being injured just before the state meet.
He was unable to compete at the state meet or at the New Englands, but now is seeking to repeat as an All-American.
Waterman placed seventh in the junior 126-pound division at the 2012 nationals and this year will compete in the senior 132-pound weight class.
Hughes, who won his second straight individual state title last month while helping Marshwood earn its second straight Class team championship in that class, finished fourth in the freshman 138-pound division at last year’s nationals. He will compete this year in the sophomore 145-pound class.
Curtis, who placed fifth in the freshman 160-pound weight class at the 2012 nationals, will complete in the sophomore 160-pound division this year. Curtis won the Class B 160-pound title for Wells at this year’s state meet.
Among other Mainers expected to compete in Virginia Beach are brothers Dan and Peter DelGallo of Gardiner. Dan DelGallo is a three-time Class B state champion who will participate in the senior 138-pound class, while Peter will compete in the freshman 106-pound division after winning his first state title in that weight class last month.
Also set to take part in the nationals are Victor Irwin, a two-time Class A state champion from Brewer who will compete in the senior 220-pound division; two-time Class C state champion Brooks Law of Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft (sophomore 126-pound class); 2013 Class C state champion Stewart Buzzell of Monmouth Academy (junior 145-pound class); reigning Class A state champion Nick Vogel of Greely of Cumberland Center (senior 160-pound class); juniors Sam Thomas of Piscataquis of Guilford (120) and Tyler Everett of Massabesic of Nobleboro (126), sophomore Isaac Whittemore of Foxcroft (132) and freshman Cameron Pratt of Piscataquis (113).
Former Nokomis of Newport star Chris Braley recently capped off his prep school basketball career with a New England championship.
Braley and the rest of the top-ranked Phillips Exeter (N.H.) Academy boys basketball team rolled to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class A title, completing a 25-1 season with a 58-47 victory over second-seeded Choate Rosemary Hall in the championship game at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.
Braley scored 15 points in the final as Phillips Exeter won its first NEPSAC boys basketball crown in school history.
Phillips Exeter advanced to the championship game by defeating No. 4 Milton Academy 60-35 in the semifinals and No. 8 Hotchkiss 69-54 in the quarterfinals.
Braley, a team co-captain, also was named to the All-NEPSAC Class A first team for the second straight year, and during his two seasons at Phillips Exeter he helped his coach Jay Tilton’s club compile a 40-10 overall record.
A 2011 Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team choice while at Nokomis, the 6-foot-4-inch wing plans to continue his basketball career in the Division I collegiate ranks next winter at Stony Brook University in New York.