SOUTH BERWICK – In between his semifinal and final match, Jacob Guimond of Noble had the time last Saturday to soak it all in.
He was one win from winning the Western Class A 195-pound wrestling championship. It was his senior year and he was the top seed. Guimond calmly sat for photos, cheered on teammates in the consolation rounds and neatly balanced fun with focused effort.
He finished off the day a little before 8 p.m., confidently controlling a three-period match in the final to defeat 6-foot-5 Andrew Moriarty of Sanford 12-2 in the 195-pound class.
“I was definitely more nervous because it was the regional final match,” Guimond said. “I just thought, ‘Wow. I want to make a statement and win this.’ “
Guimond thought about how far he’s come as a wrestler after he and his family moved to southern Maine from Virginia prior to his eighth-grade season.
He recalled how as a sophomore he reached the regional final and came up short against a senior.
And if he needed any extra motivation, Guimond only needed to think where he was on this day as a junior: sitting in the stands as an academically ineligible wrestler because he’d lost the needed balance, by just a little, between sport and school.
“It was one class. I was just on the edge,” Guimond said. “I turned in some things that I thought would have made it over that edge and they ended up not meeting the standards by a point or something.”
Unfortunately for Noble, three other athletes also were academically ineligible, a fifth was dismissed for disciplinary reasons and a sixth failed to make weight at the regional.
The Knights’ seemingly unstoppable train to a fourth straight Class A title and 12th in 14 seasons came careening off the tracks.
“We’d beaten everybody all year long. We just could not overcome that,” Noble Coach Kip DeVoll said. “I believe with (Guimond) it was one class right at the end but that’s what happens. Kids procrastinate and it bites them. It makes a lot of hard work disappear real quick.”
Guimond said he appreciated that DeVoll said he could continue to come to practice, and that after the initial shock wore off over a lost opportunity — Guimond would have been the top seed at the regional tournament and had gone 35-5 as a junior — he started to look toward his senior season.
“It really made me think of pretty much what I was going to do to prevent that from happening again and what I could do to do better,” Guimond said.
Guimond got the grades in order quickly enough that he was able to play lacrosse in the spring and football this fall.
“I’ve figured it out now. I still struggle in English because it’s not my best subject,” Guimond said.
“Coach really harped on grades this year and that really helped. School comes first before everything and last year I was still being a teenager, trying to focus just on sports.”
At the beginning of this season, Guimond wondered if he was still paying a price for his absence at last year’s regional and state tournaments when he was seeded sixth at the early-season McDonald’s-Mountain Valley Invitational.
He proceeded to rip off three straight pin wins for a statement-making tourney title at 182 pounds.
“It was pretty wild. I went into the tournament thinking I would get seeded a little bit higher at least,” Guimond said. “When you’re the sixth seed, nobody really expects you to be any good and then I went out and showed them, ‘Hey, I’m better than what you seeded me.’ “
At the Noble Invitational, Guimond was still in the 182-pound division and finished third, followed by a fifth at the highly competitive Chelmsford (Mass.) Invitational and a runner-up finish at a tournament in Merrimack, N.H.
Prior to the Essex Junction, Vt., tournament, DeVoll asked Guimond to move up to the 195-pound class, even though he has consistently weighed 180 pounds this year.
“My coach said it would benefit the team because we could score more points and I would have a better chance at states,” Guimond said. “I’ve always just kind of listened to Coach and went where he asked me to go, and I’m up for the challenge.”
Guimond tore through the Essex Junction tournament and won the individual title. He hasn’t lost since and will enter the Class A championships Feb. 16 at Sanford’s Memorial Gym with a 48-5 senior-season record.
“Knowing I could win, it’s just unreal,” Guimond said. “It’s a dream that every wrestler wants.”
Noble is an underdog threat to reigning champ Marshwood. Both teams qualified 12 wrestlers for the state meet.
“Everyone else thinks it will be Marshwood,” Guimond said. “Everyone on Noble thinks we’ll win. When we won my freshman season it was a great feeling. When we won my sophomore year, knowing I had helped benefit the win was an even better feeling. To win (the team title) as a senior, it would be an awesome feeling.”
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: