Instead of starting with the lightest weight class, the championship round at the inaugural Maine Principals’ Association girls’ wrestling championships started with the 132-pound bout.

There was a simple reason behind the unusual schedule: Zoe Buteau deserved a shot at being the first girl to win an official state wrestling championship in Maine.

“They actually kind of tweaked the order because she’s been so influential in getting more girls into wrestling,” said Schyler Gagnon, co-coach of the Lisbon/Oak Hill team.

In response to the MPA recognizing girls’ wrestlers with their own championship for the first time this winter, we introduce the Varsity Maine Girls’ Wrestler of the Year.

Buteau was the easy choice.

The Oak Hill High senior, who lives in Wales, had a four-year record of 104-52, wrestling mostly boys. As a junior she became just the fourth girl to win a regional championship, taking the 120-pound title in Class B South. She qualified for the Class B state tournament three times and placed fourth this year, finishing with a 28-14 record.

Along the way she became the face of girls’ wrestling in the state, following pioneers like Lisa Nowak (Mt. Ararat), Deanna Rix Betterman (Marshwood), Kayleigh Longley (Noble) and Hilary Merrifield (Camden Hills).

“She would always be talking about wrestling and trying to push to get more females interested, and the fact that she was a good wrestler, and able to win a regional and place at states really helped that,” Gagnon said.

Buteau deflects such praise.

“I wouldn’t say I helped (promote wrestling), but I’m definitely a part of that,” Buteau said. “Once girls actually see other girls on the mat, they can actually think about doing it.”

Buteau was unaware that the 132-pound final – which she won with a third-period pin against Emma Fonger of Mt. View – had purposely been chosen to start the finals. She was under the impression that it was a random draw.

For Buteau, the first girls’ championship was about all of the wrestlers.

“I think there were 65 kids. I thought it was pretty awesome because my freshman year there wasn’t many girls,” Buteau said. “Over the years it grew, five to 10 girls every year, and it was pretty awesome to see how many girls were actually wrestling.”

Buteau plans to attend the Girls Folkstyle Nationals from March 21-23 in Oklahoma City. She’s undecided on a college but said she hopes to continue wrestling.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig


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