The state’s top high school wrestlers will face off Saturday for the right to represent Maine at the New England championships March 3-4 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The fourth annual New England qualifier meet will be held at Marshwood High. Each eight-man weight class is filled by wrestlers who placed in the top four at last Saturday’s Class A and Class B championships.

Wrestling on three mats begins at 9:30 a.m., with the finals expected to start around 4 p.m.

The most intense bouts are often the consolation finals that determine the third and final qualifying spot in each weight class.

Four-time state champion Cody Craig of Skowhegan (106 pounds) has the chance to become the first to win four New England qualifier titles. No other senior enters as a three-time winner.

Five other wrestlers are returning New England qualifier champs. Returning to the same weight class are 200-win wrestlers Caleb Austin of Mountain Valley at 126 pounds and Robert Hetherman of Mt. Ararat/Brunswick at 170. Marshwood’s four-time state champ, Bradley Beaulieu, won qualifying titles at 126 as a sophomore and 132 last season. He’s now at 138 pounds. The Ellsworth tandem of Peyton Cole (152) and Trent Goodman (170) were the 138 and 160 champs last season.

Austin could be challenged by Class A champ Chris Solo of Deering, while a bout between Hetherman and Class B champ Goodman could be the marquee final.

At 132 pounds, four-time champion and current Class B winner Danny Buteau of Oak Hill will have a tough battle ahead against a deep Class A group that includes champ Samson Sirois of Skowhegan, runner-up Jake Martel of Noble and Marshwood’s Kyle Glidden.

At 160 pounds, Sanford’s Sam Anderson, who placed third at 182 last season, is coming off an impressive win at the Class A meet. Dirigo’s Bryce Whittemore is the Class B titlist. He placed third at 152 last year.

Host Marshwood has 10 wrestlers in the meet, including brothers and state champions Matthew Thompson at 120 pounds and James Thompson at 195.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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