Mt. Ararat senior Ben Laurence, top, battles Mt. Blue’s Tucker Nicholas at the KVAC wrestling tournament earlier this month. Laurence is one of four Mt. Ararat/Brunswick wrestlers who won regional titles heading into the Class A state meet Saturday at Sanford High. Joe Phelan/Kennebunk Journal Buy this Photo

Defending champions Mt. Ararat/Brunswick in Class A and Wells in Class B will face serious challenges, but both are positioned to retain their wrestling state titles on Saturday.

Last season, Mt. Ararat/Brunswick won its first team title in a closely bunched field. Sophomores Brycen Kowalsky and Spencer LeClair are returning state champions and lead a group of eight qualifiers into the Class A state meet at Sanford High. Shea Farrell at 132 pounds, LeClair (138), Caden Kowalsky (145) and Ben Laurence (170) are coming off regional championship wins, while Brycen Kowalsky (120) and Brett Raio (152) finished second.

“We’ll have kids that will probably do what we expect them to do,” said Mt. Ararat Coach Erick Jensen. “But Noble is in a whole different place than they were last year. They’re going to be the favorites.”

Noble is looking for its first state title since 2011, the year it claimed its 11th in 13 seasons. Like last season when they finished fourth at the state meet, the Knights won the South regional. But this year, seven of their 10 qualified wrestlers finished either first or second in the region, compared to three such finishes in 2019. Senior Sam Martel (145) and junior Josh Cote (132) both won state titles last year. Cote is looking for his third individual win. They’ll have greater support this year from three other regional champions – freshman Derek Cote (113), Jacob Mulligan (182) and Blake Ouellette (220).

North runner-up Camden Hills qualified seven wrestlers, including regional champions Julian Henderson (106), Eric Andrews (113) and Ian Henderson (152). Bonny Eagle will be a force in the lighter weights, with South champions Caden Frost (106), Chris Rankin (120) and defending state champion Colby Frost (126), along with runner-up Cameron Frost (113).

In the Class B meet at Fryeburg Academy, three-time defending champion Wells is favored after qualifying 11 of its 13 wrestlers (the Warriors do not have a 285-pounder) while running away with the South title by 88.5 points over Mountain Valley. Junior Jonah Potter (195) is the Warriors’ only returning state champion, but sophomores Michael Ducharme (120) and Danny Marquis (113) and senior Jacob Scott (126) placed second last season. Potter, Ducharme and freshman Griffin Brickett (106) are coming off regional titles.

Belfast used its depth to win a tightly contested North regional, but runner-up Dexter (three regional champions), and Mattanawcook/Lee (four regional champs) have more top-tier talent.

A potential state final to watch in Class B will be at 195. Potter edged Medomak Valley’s Erik Benner, 7-5, in the regional final. Benner was the state champ at 220 pounds last season.

“I think it’s going to be a close state meet,” said Wells Coach Scott Lewia. “There’s a lot of teams with five or six good individuals.”

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