Biddeford’s Day, Sanford’s Moriarty also state champs

NORTH BERWICK — For Tyler Everett, Mike Risti and Dominick Day, it was about redemption. For Jordan Drain, it was about perseverance. For Andrew Moriarty, it was simply about proving the doubters wrong.

There were many different roads taken to Saturday’s Class A state championship wrestling meet, but those five all arrived at the same place in the end ”“ at the top of the podium, as state champions.

Massabesic’s Everett, Risti and Drain, Biddeford’s Day and Sanford’s Moriarty were five of the 14 individual state titlists at the coming together of the best from the state’s biggest schools at Noble High School.

Marshwood won its third-straight Class A state title, scoring 179 points thanks to five individual champions and two runner-ups. Massabesic was second with 127 points, storming back in the consolation and championship rounds to finish ahead of Skowhegan, which was third with 117.5.

It was the third year in a row that Massabesic finished second behind the Hawks, although the feeling was much different than 12 months ago, when the Mustangs had six wrestlers reach championship finals only to have all six trip at the last hurdle.

This time it was just four Mustangs in the finals, but three of them came out on top, with Zac Richard also coming close before falling 5-3 in overtime to Marshwood’s Shamus McManus ”“ the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler ”“ in the 145-pound final.

“Everyone came to wrestle today,” Massabesic coach Rick DeRosier said. “As a team we came together, everyone kind of fed off one another and the crowd. It was a perfect day.”

“We didn’t want to repeat what happened last year,” said Risti. “We definitely wanted some state champions.”

Everett and Risti were two of those six who had fallen a year ago. But both were dominant in their finals Saturday, with Everett running up a 9-0 lead before pinning Marshwood’s Eric Glidden at 4:16 of the 126-pound championship match.

“I’ve been working for this for the last three years, because this is the goal to win here,” said Everett, who won the 103-pound title as a freshman but had come up short at the state meet the last two years. “The first (state title), I didn’t really know what it meant. After coming so close the last two years I understand how big of a deal it is; this one definitely means a lot more.”

Risti was just as dominating, overpowering and pinning Noble’s Robert Worrell after just 46 seconds of the 195-pound final. It was the third time in as many weeks Risti had pinned Worrell on the way to a major tournament title.

“It gives you a little bit of confidence, but you’re kind of nervous going into it because you don’t want to mess it up,” Risti said of facing Worrell for the third week in a row. “It felt very good (to get a pin) because we needed the points to beat Skowhegan.

“Last year I kind of left here with a bad taste in my mouth. To come here and win, it feels really good. I just didn’t want to be on the losing end of it.”

Like Everett and Risti, Day was wrestling for some personal redemption after unpleasant experiences at states in years past.

After finishing as the state runner-up as a freshman two years ago at 132, Day looked certain to win his first state title last year when he faced Marshwood’s Trevor Smith, who he had already beaten three times, in the final. But a tentative Day lost his nerve, and the match, and has been on a personal mission to make up for it ever since.

That showed Saturday, when Day won his first match by pin and his semifinal 10-5 before coming out aggressive and pinning Eastern Maine champion Zeko Caudill of Cony 2:41 into the final.

“It’s such an amazing feeling to actually come out and wrestle like that,” Day said. “I was wrestling to win and not wrestling to lose, so my mindset was a lot different than last year.

“It’s great, to achieve my goal. I’m just so glad to not be runner-up anymore, to come out on top.”

Drain, a junior, was making his first state meet appearance and came in under-the-radar in a 285-pound bracket that also included defending state champ Isaiah Reynolds, Western Maine regional champ Jed Scott and Eastern Maine champ Elias Younes.

But after pinning Mt. Blue’s Will Gunter in the opening round, Drain pulled an upset in his semifinal with Younes, showing a nimbleness not often seen at the heavyweight level to get a reversal, and soon after a pin at 3:59.

“I think he kind of realized how to wrestle now,” said DeRosier, who didn’t hold in his excitement after Drain’s pin of Younes, spinning a towel in enthusiastic celebration. “He had been making stupid mistakes and putting himself in a bad position, but now he understands how to wrestle. You work hard and it pays off and shows on the mat.”

Drain then found himself in a dogfight of a final with Mt. Ararat’s Pierce Knorr. With the score at 2-2 in the final period, Drain saw an opening and took it, getting a takedown and a near-fall to score a 7-2 win.

“I didn’t wrestle much last year because of an ankle injury, so I came out this year and wanted to improve on some of the stuff I missed,” Drain said. “I just came out more aggressive and went off instinct.

“As I saw more and more of our people win, I just figured why not me? It was my time to shine.”

Drain might have been an underdog Saturday, but it’s a role Moriarty has been cast in his entire wrestling career.

But the 6-foot-8-inch Sanford senior who didn’t win a match as a seventh grader and was consistently out-muscled as a freshman ended up as a state title winner, beating Cony’s Nic Benner 3-0 in the 220-pound final.

“Since he was in seventh grade he’s worked on everything. It’s just a true testament that work will get you there,” Spartans coach Nate Smith said. “It’s something that he’s been working towards forever. No one would ever look at him and say, ”˜OK, this kid’s going to be a state champ.’ It’s fun that he can prove them wrong.”

As he’s learned to do skillfully over the past six years, Moriarty used his height to an advantage in the championship match, staying in control by utilizing his long arms to keep Benner off him the entire match.

And with things scoreless after two periods, Moriarty started the third in the down position and promptly got an escape to go up 1-0. Then with 20 seconds left, he sealed things with a takedown to win Sanford its first individual state title since 2008.

“I’m just extremely pumped up and full of adrenaline,” Moriarty said. “I don’t know what to say to be completely honest, it kind of puts itself into words.”

Wrestlers from Western Maine schools won 11 of the 14 individual titles in all, with Marshwood’s five champs ”“ Bradley Beaulieu (113 pounds), McManus (145), Jackson Howarth (152), Cody Hughes (160) and Brett Gerry (182) ”“ and Bonny Eagle’s Robie Martin (170) all taking top honors in addition to the five local winners.

Skowhegan’s Craig brothers ”“ Cody at 106 and Tyler at 120 ”“ won two of Eastern Maine’s three titles, with Edward’s Little’s Sheldon Bang winning at 132.

In addition to its four finalists, Massabesic had third-place finishes from Trevor Burns at 182 and Tanner Andrews at 220, while Logan Martin also got onto the podium with a fourth-place finish at 152.

Kyle Bonti was Kennebunk’s lone medalist, finishing third at 113 by pinning Sanford’s Kyle Sanborn 36 seconds into the consolation final.

The wrestlers will now have a short four days of rest and preparation before heading to Nokomis Regional High School in Newport on Thursday for the inaugural New Englands qualifier tournament.

The top four-finishers in each weight class from the Class A, B and C state meets will compete in 12-man brackets, with the top three at each weight, regardless of Class, then eligible to enter the New England championships on March 7 and 8 in Providence, R.I.

 — Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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