Massabesic High wrestling coach Rick DeRosier smiled when he was told his team looked a lot tougher in just one week’s time and that several of the Mustangs’ credited him for amping up the practice intensity.
“Just a bit,” DeRosier said.
Two Saturdays ago at the Noble Invitational, Massabesic – a team expected to challenge two-time defending Class A champion Marshwood for this year’s state title – finished sixth. For most teams that would be a strong effort. But particularly for Massabesic standouts Zac Richard and Mike Risti, who had unexpected early trips to the consolation bracket, it was a subpar tournament.
At the Spartan Wrestling Tournament in Sanford this past Saturday, however, both Richard (152 pounds) and Risti (220) walked away as weight-class champions.
Massabesic was again sixth, but considering the top five included out-of-state powers Timberlane of Plaistow, N.H., and Rhode Island entries Cumberland and North Providence, it was a much sweeter finish.
“Me and Risti and a couple of others, we went to the semis at Noble, and we all should have won and we didn’t. This week we worked our (butts) off,” Richard said.
Tyler Everett, a senior who won his division at Noble, reached the final in his quest to become a two-time Spartan champ before losing for the first time this season, a rugged 10-4 decision against Derek Bohle of Timberlane.
Risti, a junior who had wrestled at 195 the previous week, recorded his 100th career victory in the semifinals and rolled through the tourney with four pins – the first three coming in less than 50 seconds each.
“The coaches have really been on us a lot harder in practice,” Risti said.
Also placing in the top four for Massabesic were Trevor Walton (fourth, 170) and Trevor Burns (third, with an emphatic pin in the consolation final, at 182).
Everett said the Spartan tourney is not a tell-all about a team’s fortunes at the regional and state level, but “with a lot of good out-of-state teams, if you’re doing well here you’re doing good.”
With the halfway point of the regular season nearing, the Heal point standings are taking shape.
In Western Class A, Bonny Eagle sits in the No. 1 spot with an 8-0 record. Falmouth (6-1) and Portland (7-0) are tied for second. Resurgent Cheverus and Deering are next.
In Western Class B, Morse holds the top spot, followed by Greely, Spruce Mountain, Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth.
In Western Class C, the top five are Maranacook, Dirigo, Waynflete, Winthrop and Wiscasset.
Forest Hills is ranked No. 1 in Western Class D, followed by Valley, Greenville, North Haven and Hyde.
A couple upcoming games to note are Bonny Eagle and Portland on Jan. 14 at St. Joseph’s College and Greely and Falmouth on Saturday.
To accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd, the Bonny Eagle-Portland game was moved to St. Joseph’s. The Bonny Eagle gym has stands on only one side.
After opening with seven straight wins, Morse suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, 69-53 to Maranacook.
AFTER BEATING Windham Friday night, Westbrook was back in action Saturday, hosting Noble. The Blue Blazes couldn’t sustain their momentum as they lost to the Knights, 68-45.
It has and likely will continue to be that kind of up-and-down season for the Blue Blazes (2-7). A Western Class A tournament berth is a long shot.
But with two sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup, the future looks good under first-year coach Mike Burke. Sophomore Moses Abwoch is learning fast about Class A, as is Demetrious Hoskins, another sophomore who scored 15 points and had 14 rebounds in the 60-46 win over Windham.
Jason Blier will almost certainly allow another goal this season. The question is, when?
The Cheverus goaltender is backstopping the hottest team in Western Class A, owner of four consecutive victories and three straight shutouts.
“Last year, it took me more than halfway through the season to get my first shutout,” Blier noted after an 8-0 whitewash of Portland/Deering on Wednesday.
That was his third shutout of this season, and he followed that with a 1-0 blanking of defending state champion Falmouth on Saturday.
The turnaround for the Stags (5-2) started after back-to-back losses to St. Dominic Academy and Brunswick.
“We lost two games and all of the sudden we amped up,” Blier said. “We said we were going to restart our season.”
The hot streak has vaulted Cheverus into the state title conversation, a far cry from where the Stags were at the season’s outset.
“We’re closing in on the top right now,” Cheverus forward Conor Ryle said. “We’re the underdogs this year, and I like that. We’re turning heads right now, and that’s good.”
Predicting the outcome of sporting events at any level is risky business, but when Falmouth and the combined team from Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete get together for a game Thursday night at Family Ice Center, the final score is likely to be close.
Consider the first time they played, in mid-December: Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete rallied from deficits of 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 to win 6-5 on a goal in the final two minutes of regulation.
They met again in the championship of a holiday tournament, hosted by Brunswick at Bowdoin College, between Christmas and New Year’s. This time it was Falmouth coming from behind to force overtime before winning 4-3.
So in six periods plus about five minutes of overtime, the two teams have each scored nine goals against each other.
The recent winter storm wiped out a slate of swimming and diving meets just after the holiday break, so today may mark the first time in a week that many swimmers are back in the water.
This coming weekend is a busy one for Cheverus, which swims against Scarborough on Friday afternoon and then leaves at 7:30 Saturday for an 11 a.m. meet against Bangor at Husson University.
“The kids are really excited to face Bangor,” said Stags Coach Kevin Haley. “Two great teams who really respect each other.”
Cheverus is the defending Class A boys’ state champion, having ended a six-year reign by Bangor.
The Rams have won five of the last eight Class A girls’ state titles.
“Our kids are psyched to see their entire teams and race and dive,” Haley said.
– Staff Writers Steve Craig, Tom Chard, Mark Emmert and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.