BIDDEFORD — Dominick Day, the two-time Class A wrestling champion from Biddeford High, understands his sport is all about challenges.

Day will welcome as many challenges as he can this weekend. He’ll end his high school wrestling career representing Maine at the New England championships in North Andover, Massachusetts, on Friday and Saturday.

But Day must have felt like he had a heavyweight or two piling on top of him this season.

Coming off a 138-pound Class A title and strong sixth-place finish at the New Englands last year as a junior, Day was ready to tear it up as a senior at 152 pounds.

Then, on the eve of the season, he wound up in the hospital because of cellulitis. A common but potentially serious bacterial skin infection, cellulitis forms at a cut or crack in the skin and can spread rapidly into the lymph nodes and bloodstream.

“If not treated it can kill you,” Day said. “My knee swelled up about double the normal size. I was in (the hospital) two days (and) one night.”

Aggressive treatment with antibiotics, at first delivered through an IV, quelled the infection. But Day’s return to wrestling was in doubt at first. He said doctors suggested a permanent catheter, known as a PICC line, be inserted to make daily outpatient IV treatments easier.

“That doesn’t come out for four weeks to … two months,” Day said. “They got (the infection) under control, thank God, and they let me wrestle a couple of weeks after.”

Once back, Day used his tenacious style to roll through the regular season, and regional and state tournament unbeaten.

But not unscarred. At a late-season meet he hit the mat face-first and broke his nose.

Day wore a mask at the Western regional meet but felt it hindered his breathing and effectiveness.

At the Class A meet the mask came off – until his nose met the knee of Marshwood’s Justin Stacy in the semifinals.

“I was bleeding a lot. It just busted wide open,” Day said.

Bloodied and bandaged, Day finished the match, beating Stacy, 16-5. Then he put the mask back on to beat Kam Doucette of Skowhegan in the final.

But Day was destined to suffer more pain, thanks to Stacy.

In the all-state New England qualifier Feb. 21, Stacy had his best meet of the year and earned a rematch in the final against Day. In the final seconds, with Day leading 5-3, Stacy worked a reversal and put Day to his back to pull off a 7-5 comeback victory.

Day, 142-16 in his career and now 37-1 as a senior, lost his final match in Maine.

“He had a really good day,” Day said of Stacy. “Unfortunately I just didn’t show up to wrestle that day.

“Once I lost the match I thought it was the worst thing that could happen. My coach talked to me and helped me get back on the right track. I started thinking, ‘Well, this is going to fire me up for New Englands.’ No one thinks about the second seed. So it’s not the worst thing. I go in there and wrestle like I did last year, anything can happen.”

As a junior, Day went 3-3 at the New Englands with two pins. His losses were against the top seeds from Rhode Island and Connecticut (twice) by a total of five points.

“I think being undefeated and going through all the things he’s had to go through, he had a lot of pressure on him,” said Biddeford Coach Steve Vermette. “Now he can just go into New Englands and wrestle. He’s got just as good a chance as any 152 going there to win. I don’t believe there’s anyone in that room that’s going to dominate him.”