Based on last weekend’s Mid-State League Championship, Fryeburg Academy appears to be a clear favorite at Saturday’s Western Class B meet in Wells. The Raiders finished second to Class C powerhouse Dirigo and well ahead of this weekend’s top competitors, Mountain Valley, Wells and York.
Fryeburg Coach Bryce Thurston doesn’t see it that way.
“I think it’s a three-way battle with us, York and Wells,” Thurston said. “I don’t know how many Wells will put in the final but they’ll probably have more kids in the final than York. That’s where the big points are, winning the semifinals.”
“Fryeburg has been wrestling pretty well,” Wells Coach Scott Lewia said, “but I don’t know if there is a favorite. Fryeburg, coming in second to Dirigo, they did look pretty tough.”
The Raiders’ hopes improved significantly with the return of Connor Sheehan, last year’s state champ at 113 pounds.
Sheehan broke his foot in a preseason match. Last weekend was his first action. Sheehan’s stamina may be in question but not his skill.
“He was on the mat for like a minute (and) 26 (seconds) total. He pinned the kid in the finals in 20 seconds,” Thurston said. “For that weight of 113 he’s really a pretty strong kid.”
At the time of Sheehan’s injury, Thurston said he thought Sheehan could recover for the state tournaments.
“I wasn’t sure he would make it back. I knew he’d work hard because he always works hard. He’s always trying to push, push, no matter what he’s doing,” Thurston said. “I knew he would take on any challenges (the school trainer) gave him.”
The return means a possible back-to-back double championship for the Sheehan brothers. Sophomore 120-pounder Zach Sheehan returns to that weight as a state champ.
It wasn’t all good news for the Raiders. Trevor Henschel, a fast-improving 195-pounder, is injured and they could forfeit up to two other weights.
That could open the door for York or Wells.
York’s Alex Mercurio is a huge favorite at 220, and the Wildcats also have contenders with Zach Handley at 182 and Zach Faskianos at 160, and have been able to fill each weight class.
Wells doesn’t have a full roster but could have up to four top seeds, Lewia said, in Mid-State winners Colin Sevigney (126) and Michael Curtis (170), with Teddy Durfee (160) and Mark Surprenant (285). Sevigney’s only two losses this year came when he moved up to 132.
“We don’t have a full team but we’ve got good quality,” Lewia said. “I think we can get nine guys to states.”
IN CLASS A, Saturday’s host teams are favorites for regional team titles — defending state champ Marshwood in the West and Skowhegan in the East.
Mt. Ararat Coach Erick Jensen has seen plenty of both teams. He’ll take his team (along with undefeated Brunswick independent and son Jared Jensen) to Skowhegan.
“I don’t think there’s any coach that doesn’t think it’s (Skowhegan’s) tournament to lose,” Erick Jensen said. “From 106 all the way through 220 they don’t have many holes. They’re a very solid team.”
Looking ahead to the state tournament, Jensen added, “I think it will be pretty difficult for anyone to beat Marshwood.”
Mt. Ararat is looking to make some noise on a smaller scale. Freshman 106-pounder Damian Grubb and Felipe Gunter can contend for titles, while Jacob Kenney is next-in-class behind Skowhegan’s Tyler Craig at 113.
“Grubb is a freshman. He’s kind of flown under the radar but the last half of the season he’s really come into his own,” Jensen said. “There are some tough kids in the West he’s wrestled and lost to, but no one in the East can touch him.”
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be reached at 749-6413 or at: