The usual teams will be vying for team championships at Saturday’s Class A, B and C state wrestling tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center.

All 14 wrestlers from Noble, the two-time Class A defending champion seeking its 11th state title in 13 seasons, qualified for the state meet. Massabesic, the only team other than Noble to win a Class A championship during the past 13 years, and Marshwood, a state runner-up twice since moving up to Class A in 1999, each will send 13 wrestlers.

The Class B state meet shapes as a three-way battle between defending state champion Camden Hills, Belfast and Mountain Valley. During the past 23 seasons, teams from one of those schools have placed either first or second each year.

In the Class C state meet, three-time defending state champion Lisbon and Foxcroft Academy, which won state titles in 2004 and 2005, appear set to go head to head. Ten wrestlers from each squad are eligible to compete.

What makes these teams so competitive year in and year out?

“If you look at most of the programs, they’ve all had the same coaches for a long time,” said Kip DeVoll, in his 26th season as coach at Noble. “You don’t have a new coach coming in with a change in philosophy. When something like that happens, it takes a while for kids to get used to it.”

But consistency in coaching is not the only reason for the success of those particular programs.

“A lot of it is definitely the feeder systems,” said Matt Rix, who started coaching at Marshwood in 1982. “You’ve got kids coming up every year who have eight to 10 years experience.”

Not every young wrestler who steps onto the mat for the first time in the first or second grade ends up competing for the high school team.

“Wrestlers do get weeded out, but the ones who do come through are ready to go,” Rix said. “They’re pulling starting spots as freshmen.”

 

THE WRESTLING season won’t end with Saturday’s state championship meets.

The Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance will hold its annual all-star wrestling invitational Feb. 19 at Windham High School.

The top four finishers in each weight class in the Class A, B and C state meets automatically qualify.

On March 4-5, the 47th annual New England interscholastic wrestling championships will be held at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn.

Maine will send 42 wrestlers to the event. Class A, B and C state champions in each weight class are eligible.

 

SIX GIRLS were among the 366 wrestlers who qualified for the one of Saturday’s three state tournaments at Augusta.

The group included Noble’s Kayleigh Longley, runner-up at 103 pounds in the Western Class A regional; Mountain Valley’s Nicole Burgess, third-place finisher at 103 in the Western Class B regional; Winslow’s Kayla Vigue, fourth-place finisher at 103 in the Western Class B regional; Mattanawcook’s Courtney Burriss, third-place finisher at 103 in the Class C North division; Fort Kent’s Megan Pelletier, runner-up at 103 in the Class C South division; and Madison’s Jennifer Allen, fourth-place finisher at 125 in the Class C South division.

The fourth annual Maine High School Wrestling Championship, which is not sponsored by the Maine Principals’ Association, will be held Feb. 25 at Gardiner Area High School.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]