Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Paul Betit email@example.com
Back in 2009, when heavyweight Nick Ricker was a freshman at Marshwood, only two wrestlers from his team qualified for the Class A state meet.
Cody Hughes, the Western Class A champion at 138 pounds, was one of nine Marshwood wrestlers who won individual titles at last week’s regional meet.
2012 file photo/John Patriquin
"My freshmen year we didn't even have a full lineup," Ricker recalled. "We didn't win a single (dual meet)."
A lot has changed since then.
On Saturday, all 14 wrestlers in Marshwood's starting lineup will compete in the Class A state championships at Windham High, having qualified by finishing among the top four in their weight class at last Saturday's regional meet in North Berwick.
"I'm not surprised by their success," Marshwood Coach Matt Rix said. "They're all great students, and they bring their work ethic (to practice) every day."
The Hawks have never won a Class A state championship, but they did win four Class B titles before moving up to Class A in 2000.
"We practice three hours every day," said Rix, in his 27th season as coach of the Hawks. "We've been to a lot of places, and (opponents) have their workout schedules on the wall, and they take Mondays off or they don't practice on Wednesdays. We rarely have two days off. Our wrestlers get Sundays off, and we're back at it on Monday."
It's not unusual for the top teams to have all 14 of their wrestlers qualify for a state meet.
Defending Class C state champion Foxcroft Academy will have its entire starting lineup competing Saturday in the Class C meet at Fryeburg Academy, where Western Maine champion Dirigo will counter with 13 of its wrestlers.
Eastern champion Camden Hills had 13 wrestlers qualify for the Class B state meet, which also will be held in Fryeburg, and defending state champion Mountain Valley had 10 wrestlers qualify.
In the Class A meet, Marshwood's chief competition will come from Western Maine runner-up Massabesic, which will have 12 wrestlers, and Eastern Maine champion Mt. Blue, which has nine wrestlers in the meet.
Putting all 14 starting wrestlers in the state meet has the Hawks brimming with confidence.
"It's great just to know that everybody is going to states," said Tyler Davidson, a two-time state champion who will compete in the 113-pound division for the second consecutive year. "It gives a certain presence in the (practice) room that you've got to push yourself. It really means there's a good shot at really winning a state (team) title, and it gives everybody a boost of confidence."
Ricker, one of nine Marshwood wrestlers seeded first in their weight class on their side of the bracket, said having all of his teammates present while he wrestles gives him a boost.
"It definitely helps when you have teammates who will cheer you on," he said. "You've got that feeling somebody is there to support you, and you've got your whole team behind you. It feels good. It definitely gives you an added boost of confidence."
Davidson, a junior, said he gets his lift from his teammates before he wrestles.
"After I get on the mat, I really don't hear or see anything else except for my opponent," he said. "I just kind of shut out everything else."
Conversely, Lucas Howarth, who went 0-2 in last year's state meet in the 140-pound division, tries to take in what his teammates are shouting at him while he wrestles.
"When you're on the mat, it helps to have your teammates cheering you on, telling you things to do because they can see things from the sidelines that you can't really see," said Howard, one of the top seeds this year at 152 pounds. "I try to listen to the coaches and my teammates because I obviously don't know everything."
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: