January 17, 2013

High School Wrestling Notebook: Biddeford, Vermont events force coaches to decide

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

On paper, Saturday's Southern Maine Classic at Biddeford is the SMAA league championship and a close replica to the upcoming Western Class A regional.

click image to enlarge

Nick Vogel

WRESTLER OF THE WEEK

Nick Vogel, Greely senior: The independent wrestler rolled to the 160-pound weight class win at the Skowhegan tournament on Saturday. Seeded first, Vogel won all three matches by pin, including a first-period fall against Nick Darling of Deering in the final to raise his record to 19-3. Vogel, who trains with Windham High, was coming off a championship at the Nokomis Invitational the previous week.

HONORABLE MENTION

Elliott Allen, Marshwood senior: Wrestling at 113 pounds, Allen entered Saturday’s Kennebunk Duals needing five wins to reach 100 in his career and won all five of his matches – the maximum allowed in one day – to help the Hawks claim the title.

Connor Kirkpatrick, Westbrook senior: The 138-pounder had a solid third-place showing at the Skowhegan tournament, picking up a pair of wins and winning the consolation final, 2-1.

Alex Mercurio, York senior: On the honorable mention for a second consecutive week, Mercurio went 5-0 at the Kennebunk Duals at 220 pounds after claiming his 100th career win on Wednesday against Marshwood.

For some, that's what makes it appealing.

"We always take it seriously," said Kurt Pelletier, the coach of Windham, now in Eastern Maine with Westbrook. "I feel when you have a league championship like this you should be there and making that commitment to the league."

For others, the lineup of league teams is the biggest drawback.

Deering Coach Al Kirk, in his 35th year, made the decision in 1987 to skip the Classic in favor of going to the annual Essex Junction, Vt., tourney. Other teams have followed suit.

"Some teams will send a B team to the Classic and take the A team to get exposure to Vermont," said Kirk. "That's been our philosophy all along. Just because of the redundancy of seeing the same people that you've already wrestled maybe three or four times, and now you're going to see them again two weeks before seeing them at the regional."

The net effect is the tournament becomes a boon for top teams' reserves that get to compete against a variety of skill levels, but far from a true league championship.

"It gives the younger kids a tournament," Kirk said.

For others, it makes for a good day of wrestling without as much travel.

"After going all the way to Skowhegan last week, getting back at 11, 11:30 (p.m.), it will be nice to have a shorter meet close to home," Portland Coach Tony Napolitano said.

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. 

100 CLUB: Four southern York County wrestlers reached the 100-win club this week.

At York High, seniors Alex Mercurio and Zach Faskianos reached the mark. Mercurio is 25-1 this season and has established himself as the man to beat at 220 pounds in Class B. He picked up his 100th win in a dual meet Wednesday against Marshwood, and added five wins at the Kennebunk Duals. Faskianos, wrestling this year at 160 after winning the Class B 152 title in 2012, won his 100th while going 3-2 in Kennebunk.

Marshwood had two senior captains reach 100 at the Kennebunk Duals -- 113-pounder Elliott Allen and 170-pounder Luke Howarth. Howarth was pretty much a sure thing going in, needing only one win.

Marshwood Coach Matt Rix had thought Allen was three wins shy, so both plaques had been made up in advance. Then upon a second check of the numbers, the coaching staff realized Allen had 95 wins and would need to win all five matches to reach 100 Saturday.

"He had a couple of tough matches, got put on his back a couple of times, but he won all five," said Rix. Allen came from behind to beat Biddeford's Jake Gagne, who had just dropped down to 113.

Allen was second in the state last year at 106, losing to Tyler Craig of Skowhegan (formerly with Mt. Blue), 3-2 in overtime. Craig has been dominant this year. At last Saturday's Skowhegan tournament, Craig had three matches, three pins, and was on the mat a total of 1 minute, 57 seconds.

"He beat Elliott once already this year," Rix said. "He makes it hard but we're not even thinking about him right now." 

NOTES: Greely senior Nick Vogel, who trains with Windham, is 19-3 with consecutive tournament wins at 160 pounds. He won his 100th match at the Noble Invitational in late December. Vogel's only losses have come against defending state champs Cody Hughes of Marshwood (11-0, 11-1) and Jared Jensen of Brunswick (3-0), who are expected to wrestle at 152 and 170 at the regional and state meet.

Like the Windham team, Vogel will wrestle in the Eastern A regional.

Portland 106-pounder Kidayer Aljubyly had to default due to injury in the Skowhegan final against Peter Del Gallo. Napolitano said at first the injury was thought to be torn knee ligaments, making for a long ride home. A later evaluation showed it to be a sprain, keeping Aljubyly's postseason hopes alive. He has not lost to a Class A opponent this year. Iain Whitis of Cheverus (trains with Deering) is 19-1 at 126 pounds, with his only loss to Wells' Colin Sevigney. Whitis' younger brother, Aidan, is learning the ropes quickly at 106. "He's on a big-time learning curve but I guess his big asset is, he does not want to lose," Kirk said.

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com

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