Noble freshman Josh Cote battles an opponent in Providence on Saturday. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

Noble freshman Josh Cote battles an opponent in Providence on Saturday. JASON GENDRON PHOTOGRAPHY

PROVIDENCE — A lot of high school wrestlers never get a chance to compete at the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships, and some who do qualify for the tournament never find any success at the rugged event.
That certainly wasn’t the case for Noble freshman Josh Cote as the 120-pound standout followed up his Class A state and All-State titles with a fifth-place finish in Providence over the weekend.
“It was a great experience. Coming down here from Maine and seeing all the competition. One of the kids I lost to was a Fargo finalist. It was just a good experience down here,” said Cote.
Cote, who went 1-0 on Friday night, would drop a 13-2 decision to eventual runner-up Jack Darling of Masconomet in the quarterfinals. The freshman bounced back with an 11-1 major decision over Nokomis’ Josh Brown, who Cote beat in both the state and New England Qualifier finals.
The 120-pound standout then clinched a spot on the podium with a 9-5 decision over Bishop Hendrickson’s Nathan Williams.
“My previous goal was to at least get on the podium here and winning my match against the Bishop Hendrickson kid I knew I locked that down,” said Cote, who admitted that took some pressure off.
Cote dropped a 14-5 match in the consolation semifinals to Bristol Central’s Chris Trelli which would send him to the fifth-place match against Timberlane’s Barret Kappler.
The freshman left no doubt in his medal-round bout as Cote pinned Kappler in the third period.
“It feels great. I’m so proud of myself for accomplishing what I accomplished today. I’m not top three and I lost two matches, but I still got on the podium as a freshman at high school New Englands,” Cote said.
Noble coach Kevin Gray was thrilled for Cote.
“Josh wrestled really well today. He lost to the runner-up and then the third-place finisher and then took fifth so we can’t ask for anything more out of a kid like that in his freshman year. He had a great campaign,” said Gray.
Cote was happy to have plenty of support from both his Noble coaches and teammates, and the entire Maine wrestling family.
“It’s an amazing experience when you’re out there by yourself and you’ve got almost your whole team there. We had guys Facetiming our other teammates watching the matches. It was a great time just knowing that everyone has your back,” said Cote, who had some new teammates in Providence. “When we come down here, I mean yea we still wrestle against each other, but we’re more like ‘Team Maine’ I guess you could call it. We’re looking to put Maine (wrestling) on the map.”
Cote is hoping to use his freshman campaign as a launching pad for the rest of his career.
“Coming off of a regional title, state title and All-State title and then coming down here and placing fifth as a freshman, it’s definitely getting my high school career rolling I guess,” Cote said.
Kennebunk junior Alden Shields had a strong start to New Englands with a pair of wins on Friday night, including his 100th career victory in his opening bout. Unfortunately for the 113-pound state champ, the next two matches wouldn’t go his way as he left Providence with a 2-2 record.
“Being able to come down here and getting two more wins than I did freshman year is just awesome — plus being able to get my 100th win in my first match here was pretty awesome,” said Shields, who struggled after sustaining an injury midway through his first match on Saturday. “I feel like I could have competed better (on Saturday) if I didn’t get hurt in my first match which kind of set me back.”
Kennebunk coach Steve Young was proud of the junior standout, who went winless in his first trip to New Englands as a freshman.
“A couple tough losses (on Saturday). We talked to him and said ‘it’s obviously a huge step forward. You went 0-2 the first time you were here and then coming here and going 2-2 with the first two wins on the first day, it’s a big difference,’” said Young. “Unfortunately the injury played a role in the outcome of his two matches (on Saturday), but that’s the way the ball rolls sometimes and unfortunately it rolled in the wrong direction today for him.”
Shields will head into his senior season next winter with some major goals.
“I want to try to break the school (wins) record and win states again, be a two-time state champ,” said Shields.
Wells had three seniors competing in Providence and two of them would earn wins over the weekend.
Sean McCormack-Kuhman led the Warriors with a 2-2 performance in the 285-pound bracket, and Nolan Potter went 1-0 on Friday night before dropping two straight at 220-pounds on Saturday. Mike Wrigley went 0-2 in the 195-pound weight class.
“It’s good for those three seniors to come down here. They all wrestled pretty tough,” said Wells coach Scott Lewia. “I’m happy for Sean, he won two matches. I think Nolan wanted to do a little bit better but it’s a good way to end their careers.”
The three seniors, along with classmates Ryan Norton and Drew Peters, have made a huge impact on the Wells program, according to Lewia.
“I told the five seniors, ‘you guys put us on the map these last two years.’ It’s probably the best senior class that we’ve ever had at Wells. Not just wins but everything, the team and everything (off the mat). They are just really good kids,” said Lewia.
While Lewia was thrilled with how the Warriors, who have won back-to-back Class B state titles, performed on the mat this season, the longtime coach was even more proud of their work with former Wells wrestler Nate Smith’s son, Spencer, who is battling Sanfilippo Syndrome.
 “The whole fundraiser thing that we’re doing, I think it has kind of brought a new perspective to them. They are kind of thinking beyond the box which is just great,” said Lewia, whose wrestlers raised money through pledges every time they won a match this season. “I know that family really appreciates everything they do. It has made me believe in kids more because they really stepped up to the plate for this. I’m going to miss these guys. It’s going to be a tough class to let go of.”
Noble sophomore Sam Martel put together a solid effort as he went 2-2 in the tough 126-pound bracket.
“Sam was just in a loaded bracket so that is a great accomplishment for him to win some matches in there and get some experience,” said Gray.
Massabesic freshman Noah Hernandez also had a strong performance at 138 pounds as he went 1-2 in the tough tournament.
“It was pretty good, a lot of tough kids. They are big and strong, but it was a good experience,” said Hernandez, who believes the experience will help him in the future. “It will definitely help … just the way I hold myself on the mat and it will make me work harder for next year.”
Biddeford’s Josiah Garcia (145) and Noble’s Jon Grenier (145) and Hil Keisker (160) all went 0-2 in the tournament.
NOTES: Maine would have one wrestler bring home gold from Providence as Winslow senior Ryan Fredette won the 182-pound title. The four-time Class B state champ would also be honored as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler after pinning his finals opponent … Skowhegan freshman Jake Craig put together an impressive performance as he finished third at 106 pounds …. Erskine Academy’s Jake Peavey finished off his career with a fourth-place finish at 285 pounds.
— 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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