Kennebunk's Alden Shields celebrates after winning a state championship on Saturday. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

Kennebunk’s Alden Shields celebrates after winning a state championship on Saturday. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

SANFORD — Every state wrestling champion’s journey to the top of the podium is different. Some get there on their first try and others have to deal with setbacks and fight their way to the top.
For Kennebunk junior Alden Shields it was certainly the latter.
Shields took fourth in his first two trips to the state tournament and at one point almost put away his singlet for good. But on Saturday night he found himself on top of the podium inside Sanford High School’s Veterans Memorial Gym with a gold medal in his hand.
“I mean it’s awesome. I remember last year and the year before during the finals me and my coaches would always bet on who would win — it’s weird to think that I was finally able to be in one of those matches,” said Shields.
Shields not only got to one of those finals matches, he was able to take an early lead on Cony’s Noah Dumas and hung on for a 3-2 victory to earn the gold at 113 pounds.
“I think it means everything to him. He’s worked so hard to get to this point and to get to where he is right now,” said Kennebunk coach Steve Young. 
One thing that made the finals win even better was the fact that Dumas had beaten Shields in their three previous matches over the last few seasons.
“This is what he’s always wanted and for him to finally edge out the kid that has kind of been looming over him, a kid that’s beaten him three times previously, I think it’s great,” Young said.
The junior went into the 113-pound title match with a game plan — and it worked perfectly.
“I just knew I had to wrestle smart and aggressive because watching his earlier matches he was always the one who was being the most aggressive,” said Shields.
“He wrestled a really smart match. He wrestled exactly like we were hoping he would and he got the huge win. I couldn’t be happier,” added Young.
Shields learned from his previous matches against Dumas, including a match in the regular season where the Cony wrestler controlled the action throughout and picked up a 10-3 win.
“You saw that first match at the Noble Invitational where he was very hesitant, wasn’t working what he’s good at and really got away from the things that have worked for him in the past,” said Young. “Today, he was pushing the pace and had Noah backing up on his heels the whole match. He capitalized on some sloppy technique in the first for that takedown and then he worked really well with his hips in controlling the situation and controlling the match the rest of the way.”
Just moments after stepping off the podium Shields reflected on his journey, including the moment before last season when he thought about giving up the sport.
“I mean like my parents said, I was born into this sport so it’s kind of hard to leave the sport,” said Shields, who was clearly happy he stuck it out. “It’s just awesome to get to the top of the podium.”
Shields is the first champion for Kennebunk since Raistlin Delisle in 2008, and Young believes the junior will be a role model for younger wrestlers.
“It’s huge. We haven’t had a state champion since the first year I coached here, so to have our first state champ — and it’s a kid that (younger) kids look up to, kids see (Shields) every day, he’s in the community, the kids know him — I think it’s huge,” said Young. “We had a lot of young kids here in the stands today watching, so to be able to see this, and know that he was able to do that and these kids are coming from the same program he came from, it’s huge, it really is.”
Shields will probably be reliving the moment he got his hand raised and the gold medal placed around his neck for a while, but his season is far from over as the junior has his sights set on a return trip to Providence.
“I’d like to place at New Englands,” said Shields, who made a trip to Providence as a freshman but failed to qualify last season.
Shields will have a chance to punch his ticket to the New England Championships when he and the top four place finishers from both Class A and Class B meet at Nokomis Regional High School on Saturday. The top three from each weight class will earn a trip to Providence on March 2 and 3.
— 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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