The team competitions are finished for Maine high school wrestlers. Now it’s all about earning the right to challenge the best in New England.

A total of 42 wrestlers – three in each weight class – will advance from the New England Qualifier on Saturday at Nokomis High in Newport to the New England championships, scheduled for March 2-3 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The top four finishers from the Class A and B championships are eligible for the New England Qualifier. Some have opted to skip the tournament.

Three state champions who placed at the 2017 New England championships headline Saturday’s competition.

Skowhegan senior Samson Sirois claimed his 200th career win when he took the Class A 132-pound title. Sirois was fourth at New Englands as a junior, also at 132.

Dawson Stevens of Oxford Hills was a surprise fourth-place finisher at New Englands last season in the 160-pound class after finishing third at the New England Qualifier. Stevens is still at 160 and is likely to come up against David Wilson of Nokomis for a third straight week. Wilson won the Class A North regional, but Stevens won the state championship.

Winslow’s Ryan Fredette was a New England runner-up at 182 pounds as a junior, and he’s back after claiming the Class B championship for a fourth straight season.

Class A 170-pound champion Sam Anderson of Sanford and Class B 220-pound champ Nolan Potter of Wells are defending NEQ champions.

Saturday’s meet is also an opportunity for juniors like Alden Shields of Kennebunk and Noah Lang of Camden Hills to take another step in what has been an impressive progression.

Shields was fourth at the Class A meet as a freshman at 106 pounds and as a sophomore at 113. This season, he stayed at 113 and won the title, beating Noah Dumas of Cony, 3-2, in the final.

“I faced him earlier in the season at the Noble Invitational and he beat me by a pretty good amount,” Shields said.

Last season, Lang was the Class A runner-up to eventual New England champion and all-time Maine wins leader Bradley Beaulieu of Marshwood at 138 pounds, but he did not compete in the New England Qualifier.

This year, he has dominated at 145 pounds, going 42-1 with 23 pins, losing only to an out-of-state wrestler at the Spartan Invitational.

“I felt like this time I really did have the skills to (win a championship) if I worked hard enough,” Lang said after winning his state title. “Last year, I pretty much thought that no matter how hard I tried, unless something miraculous happened, it wasn’t going to look too good.

“Now I’m headed to all-states, and I’m just going to take it one match at a time and see what happens.”

The 195-pound class has only five competitors, though Class A champ Nic Mills of Cony, runner-up Jeffrey Wooster of Oxford Hills, Class B champ Michael Wrigley of Wells and New England meet veteran James Thompson of Marshwood form a strong group.

Another notable absence will be Class B 285-pound champion Seth Padelford of Madison. Sean McCormack-Kuhman of Wells moves up to the Class B No. 1 slot, likely helping his chances.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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