Noble’s Josh Cote picks up a pin during a match this season. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

Noble’s Josh Cote picks up a pin during a match this season. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

NORTH BERWICK — A strong wrestling program will almost always have a lineup that has a mix of veterans and underclassmen — with both groups contributing on a consistent basis.
Noble certainly has some strong seniors leading its team with Joe Pilecki, Jon Grenier and Hil Keisker winning individual titles to help the Knights capture the Class A South regional team title last weekend.
But the Knights also have a pair of young lightweights who not only helped them win regionals last weekend — they have been dominant on the mat all season long.
Freshman 120-pounder Josh Cote and sophomore 126-pounder Sam Martel both climbed to the top of the podium last week at regionals and will look to make a return trip at states on Saturday.
Cote and Martel believe their battles in the Noble wrestling room have helped get them to the point where they can compete for state gold.
“It’s great. (We) have wrestled through all of youth wrestling, so we have been drill partners and we practice in the offseason, too,” said Martel. “It’s pretty good to be with him and we drill a lot, obviously we try to mix it up to get some variety, but we really make each other better.”
“It’s pretty beneficial,” added Cote. “We do drill quite a bit and it’s actually gotten to the point where the coaches will actually break us up and put us with other kids because we just drill (together) all the time.”
Noble coach Kevin Gray knows that a competitive room is the key to success in dual meets and tournaments.
“It’s great because you know having a great wrestling room is what’s key to having a great program,” said Gray, who credits his upperclassmen with setting the tone. “With all of our guys, we have a good group of seniors that have been in the room for a while, they have really taken on this year to get a lot better technique wise. They are good kids too, so they understand hard work and they come from good families so we don’t have that issue of like, ‘oh, today sucks.’ They come in ready to work, nine times out of 10 which is great.”
One of Cote’s biggest opponents this season was not wearing an opposing singlet — it was his own weight. The freshman missed weight at the Knights’ home tournament and was forced to wrestle in Martel’s weight as an alternate and couldn’t score points for his team.
“It’s been kind of challenging just figuring out what to do with my weight,” said Cote. “I knew that I was going to go 120 and just coming up it was kind of hard trying to figure out how to manage that. I missed weight twice this year, so now that the end of the season is coming up I’ve figured it out.”
It’s not a rare thing for a wrestler to come into high school and not really know how to manage their weight, according to Gray.
“I mean he’s a young kid, and you miss weight and you don’t really understand what it’s like to go through a whole season,” said Gray. “His issue was he was trying to stay at 120, 122 (pounds) everyday and it’s like you can go up a little bit and then cut your weight back down. It’s a big learning curve for a lot of these kids. They don’t understand because they go to junior high, and wrestle where they’re at and maybe cut for one tournament, but to do it over a season is huge.”
While the Noble coaches certainly let Cote know they weren’t pleased with him missing weight, no one was harder on him than Cote himself.
“The coaches were actually pretty reasonable. I was very hard on myself, that’s just how I am as a person, so I kind of let it get on me,” Cote said.
Cote credited the upperclassmen in the Knights’ room with helping him learn from his mistakes this season.
“They’ve had nothing but a positive influence on me. They’ve kind of been hard on me with weight in the beginning and just telling me, ‘you can’t do this, you’ve got to listen to coach Gray and follow what he’s saying — that’s how you’re going to be successful,’” said Cote.
Cote missing weight actually set up a semifinal showdown between the two standouts, which Martel won by a 12-8 score.
“Honestly, it was kind of awful … I didn’t like it,” said Martel of wrestling his friend and teammate. “I really just wish it would have been him at 120 and me at 126, but what happens, happens.”
“It was really a toss up as far as competition. We drill a lot during practice, so it was just kind of rolling around, just scrambles,” added Cote of the match.
Cote has a chance to do something most freshman could only dream of when the Knights head to states this weekend. But when the season started the first goal he had was pretty modest.
“I wanted to at least letter because I haven’t lettered in anything, so I wanted to letter in wrestling,” said Cote, who obviously also had his sights set a little higher. “I wanted to win states, that was a goal for me, and New England is kind of a toss up.”
The freshman believes he is prepared for the challenge that awaits him at states.
“I think I’m ready for states. I think this year is going to have a pretty good turnout for me, regardless of how everything goes down,” Cote said.
Martel is heading to his second state tournament after finishing second to four-time state champion Cody Craig of Skowhegan at 106 pounds last season.
The sophomore would love to take the next step up the podium this year, but he’s not going to look too far ahead.
“Obviously the goal is always to win it, but I’m just taking it one match at a time,” Martel said.
Gray knows his two lightweights have what it takes to win gold this weekend, but he also knows there are no guarantees in wrestling.
“They’ve got a shot at it. There are some tough kids in those weight classes, so you know it’s going to be whoever comes out and shows up to wrestle. They have an opportunity just like anybody else right now,” said Gray.
— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.


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