BAR HARBOR, Maine — Justin Wing got one competitive monkey off his back Saturday afternoon, and now he may be in line to acquire a more sought-after primate.
The Dexter Regional High School senior ended a season of futility against talented Mattanawcook Academy freshman Isaac Hainer in the 145-pound final of the Penobscot Valley Conference championships at Parady Gymnasium, helping the Tigers capture their first league crown since 2010.
“It was the fourth time wrestling each other and [Wing] kept getting closer and closer,” Dexter coach Andrew Levensalor said. “You could tell in practice he was working harder and harder, he’s in the best shape right now. He knows Hainer’s going to practice even harder, so he says if he does one, [Wing] is going to do two. That’s his mindset.”
Dexter dominated the middle- and upper-weight classes against its conference rivals. The Tigers captured five individual titles and added one runner-up finish in the seven divisions from 145 pounds through 220 pounds to total 162 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, which finished with 137.
Four-time defending champion Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft was third in the 14-school field with 112 points, followed by Bucksport (98), Piscataquis of Guilford (70), Ellsworth (55), Mount Desert Island (52), Caribou (50), Washington Academy of East Machias (36), Penobscot Valley of Howland (28), Old Town (25), John Bapst of Bangor (24), Calais (17) and Hermon (16).
Wing, who as a freshman was the Class B state champion at 106 pounds, helped clinch that victory with a 5-3 decision over Hainer, a former three-time New England youth champion. It also enabled him to tie his head coach as the second-winningest wrestler in program history with 152 victories.
“Honestly, it’s happened to me before where I’d get beat and then I just put my head down,” said Wing, who was named wrestler of the meet. “This time it just felt different because every time I lost I felt a little step closer so finally everyone believed in me and I got it done.”
Other Dexter champions were sophomore Nathan Schobel at 152 pounds and seniors Gage Stone (160), Gus Irwin (195) and Eric Bennett (220).
The Tigers also got second-place finishes from freshman Ethan Milliken at 106 pounds and senior Logan Perkins at 182, a third from freshman Zac Spizuoco at 126 and a fourth from Jonathan Howell-Hanson at 170 to qualify nine wrestlers for next Saturday’s Class B North meet at Caribou High School.
“One-forty-five and up, we’re pretty solid,” Levensalor said. “They push each other pretty hard in practice, right back and forth.”
Other PVC individual champions were Deegan Tidswell (106 pounds), Clyde Carr (120) and Jackson Sutherland (138), all of Mattanawcook; Kaleb Nightengale of Bucksport (113), Rico Ayala of Foxcroft (126), Landon St. Peter of John Bapst (132), Jacob Nadeau of Piscataquis (170), Ethan Harkins of MDI (182) and Joseph Tuulima of Penobscot Valley (285).
Levensalor, who was a freshman at Dexter the last time the Tigers won a PVC title, was named the conference coach of the year but left MDI High School with one more decision to make.
“We do this monkey thing where whoever coach thinks did the best throughout the week, he gives the monkey to him,” Wing said. “He pushes us seniors even more than everybody else. Me and Gage haven’t even got [the monkey] this year because he expects so much more from us.
“It definitely helps us push just to be able to have that accomplishment of being able to hold [the monkey].”