Only a select few wrestlers from Maine can go to the 50th annual New England high school wrestling championships with an expectation of winning.
Marshwood junior Cody Hughes is one of those few.
“The goal is to win New Englands,” Hughes said in a quiet Marshwood wrestling room Thursday. “That’s what we’ve been working for all year.”
As a three-time Maine Class A champion (and this year the overall state champ), Hughes is making his third trip to the New Englands, which begin Friday and conclude Saturday at the Providence (R.I.) Career and Technical Center.
“I made it to the semifinals last year so I kind of already know the atmosphere of the tough matches,” Hughes said.
Hughes placed third as a sophomore at 152 pounds, losing 3-0 to eventual champion Andrew Labrie of West Greenwich, R.I., in the semifinal. It was Hughes’ only loss last season and his last high school loss. Now at 160 pounds, Hughes went 46-0, bringing his career record to 146-8.
Labrie and Massachusetts champion Jonathon Viruet (Springfield Central High) are considered the other top contenders at 160 pounds.
“Cody is a lot stronger this year,” Marshwood Coach Matt Rix said.
The other Maine top contender is Gardiner sophomore Peter Del Gallo (113 pounds). He won the New England title at 106 pounds as a freshman and is unbeaten in high school competition.
Two of Del Gallo’s toughest bouts this season came against Marshwood freshman Bradley Beaulieu (41-6), including a 3-1 decision in the final at the first Maine all-state championships that were used to determine the three New England entries per weight class.
“I think we could see an all-Maine final at 113,” Rix said. “I don’t think that’s something that’s ever happened.”
Biddeford’s Dominick Day is the 138-pound state and Class A champion. A junior, he’ll get his first taste of the New Englands after finishing as the Class A runner-up his first two seasons. In those years the three champions from Class A, B and C automatically earned a New England berth.
Day was the top wrestler in one of Maine’s toughest weight classes, going 39-2 with one in-state loss (to Wells’ Colin Sevigney who he beat the next three times). But he’ll be an unknown at the New England level.
“Dominick is the type of kid that has the will to break people,” Biddeford Coach Steve Vermette said. “He improved on his mat wrestling a lot this year. He can really hold a kid in place and lock him up. I think Dominick will be a surprise down there.”
Massabesic senior Tyler Everett could be a threat at 126 pounds. His only two losses were to out-of-state wrestlers. His junior teammate Mike Risti and Wells’ Michael Curtis could both be factors at 195 pounds.
A year ago Risti went to the New Englands as an alternate and came within a win of placing.
“He had a taste of it last year and he liked the whole idea of going against the best. He’s just a brute force,” Massabesic Coach Rick DeRosier said.
Sevigney, is Maine’s No. 3 seed at 138. He was fourth at the New Englands at 126 a year ago, going 4-2 despite losing his first match.
As he did a year ago, Sevigney has prepared by training with the Marshwood wrestlers.
“It’s good to see different styles and to work with a higher intensity,” Sevigney said. “It helps you prepare for what you’re going to see.”
Marshwood has a chance to finish in the top five as a team with juniors Jackson Howarth at 152 (46-1 this year, 139-14 in his career) and 182-pound Brett Gerry (48-1, 124-17) returning to the New Englands, and seniors Darren LaPointe at 106 (39-10, 103-27) and 120-pound Josh Marks (21-15, 42-30) making their first appearance.
Howarth went 1-2 as both a freshman and sophomore, each time winning his first match.
“You just have to go for it,” Howarth said. “They’re all good kids. You’re going to lose some and win some. To get that experience the past two years (will) help this year.”
Other local wrestlers competing (with weight class) are Portland’s Kidayer Aljubyly (106) and Jaime Lones-Martinez (120), Noble’s Austin Shorey (113), Otto Keisker (145) and Joe Grenier (152), Connor Winchenbach of Camden Hills (152), and Cyril Miller of Medomak Valley (170).
Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: