They are in different weight classes, grades and schools. Their high school wrestling career arcs are also quite different.
But Marshwood High junior Killian Murphy and Mt. Ararat freshman Robert Heatherman do share something in common. Relative unknowns at the start of the season, they have stamped themselves as major contenders for a Class A championship.
Murphy is a three-year wrestler for Marshwood, but had to bide his time and had limited varsity action as a freshman and sophomore.
Now at 126 pounds he’s on a roll.
“He’s been sitting behind guys like (four-time state champ) Tyler Davidson and (2013 champ) Trevor Smith for two years, working hard in the room,” Marshwood Coach Matt Rix said.
“It’s nice to see the guys who wait it out and then enjoy success, and not just give it up.”
Murphy won his division at the Atlantic Invitational and had his breakout effort this season at the Spartan Wrestling Annual Tournament in Sanford, pinning two opponents and beating Noble veteran Bill Gagner 2-0 in the semifinals.
He competed well in a 6-1 final loss against the highly regarded New Hampshire champion, Tim McLinden of Timberlane.
“Tyler Davidson, he helped me a lot,” Murphy said. “And last year (Coach Rix) got me into a lot of matches. It’s definitely worth it to stick with it.”
This past Saturday at the Kennebunk Duals, Murphy won all four of his contested matches by pin, including one against Mountain Valley’s Jacob Thornton, the Noble tourney runner-up and third-place finisher at the Spartan.
Heatherman opened eyes quickly this season, placing third at 145 pounds in the preseason Westlake Tourney (behind standout veterans Kam Doucette of Skowhegan and Zach Stevens of Lisbon).
He has wrestled most of the season at 152 pounds and compiled a 27-1 record. He won the Noble Invitational, getting past Massabesic’s Zach Richards in the semifinals and handing Connor Winchenbach of Camden Hills his first loss of the season, 5-0 in the final.
“His only loss was to (Otto) Keisker of Noble in the McDonald’s tournament and Robert was up 7-0 in that match and got caught. And Otto’s a very tough kid,” Mt. Ararat Coach Erick Jensen said. “(The 152-pound division) isn’t a weight class you expect freshmen to excel at. He’s just a very gifted young man.”
Jensen said Heatherman’s best trait is “he doesn’t care how he wrestles. Some young kids can be intimidated by their opponent’s name or the environment. He’s shown the ability to raise his game when the kids are tougher.”
NOBLE HIGH sent seven varsity wrestlers to the Chelmsford, Mass., tournament Saturday and all seven placed in the top four, led by the Grenier brothers.
Joe, a senior, “dominated everybody,” at 160 pounds according to Knights Coach Kip DeVoll, and Josh, a freshman, was the runner-up at 126.
Perhaps the Knights’ most promising development was getting heavyweight Jacob Zenga back in action at the Kennebunk Duals. Zenga, fourth in Western Class A a year ago, had been out with a concussion and sickness. Zenga was stopped by Cody Spicer of York in a major decision but also picked up three pins.
“He was our starter and having him back in the lineup helps us,” DeVoll said.
MARSHWOOD SENT ITS regulars to Kennebunk and went 5-0 to win the dual-meet format tournament. York had its best finish, according to Coach Bryan Thompson, going 3-1 and finishing second.
Thompson said the match of the day was probably at 113 pounds when Mountain Valley’s Caleb Austin met Marshwood’s Brad Beaulieu. Austin has won the 113-pound division at the Noble and Spartan tournaments this year, and Beaulieu was coming off the 120-pound championship at the Spartan (and runner-up at Noble). Austin took the decision.
It’s also worth noting that two-time state champ Cody Hughes wrestled at 160 pounds at Kennebunk for the first time. Hughes has gone undefeated at 170 this season.
Massabesic won its dual meet last week against Noble 50-27, with both teams sending out their best and gaining only one forfeit each. Starting with Richards’ decision win over Grenier at 160, the Mustangs rolled in the heavier weights with pins from Trevor Walton (170), Michael Risti (195), Tanner Andrews (220) and Jordan Drain (285), and a tech fall victory for Trevor Burns at 182.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: