Marshwood freshman Colby Isabelle, top, defeated Massabesic senior Matt Pooler at the Class A regional and state meets. Isabelle takes a 50-3 record into the New England wrestling championships this weekend, with all three of his losses coming to out-of-state competition. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

SOUTH BERWICK — It didn’t take long for Colby Isabelle to make a name for himself in Maine high school wrestling circles.

Now, the 15-year-old Marshwood High freshman is ready to take on the region’s best Saturday and Sunday at the New England wrestling championships in Methuen, Massachusetts.

“I don’t really know a ton of people besides the Maine kids,” Isabelle said. “I’m just going to wrestle whoever. If I want to be the best, I’ve got to beat the best.”

Usually when freshmen have immediate success at the high school level, they compete in the lightest weight classes, populated mostly with other freshmen and sophomores.

Isabelle is wrestling at 152 pounds, the domain of experienced, hardened wrestlers. He’s not only winning (50-3 with three losses to out-of-state wrestlers), he has overpowered his competition.

In both the Class A regional and state meets, Isabelle defeated Massabesic senior Matt Pooler in the finals. Pooler finished sixth in New England as a junior at 170 pounds. Then, in the New England Qualifier final on Saturday, Isabelle beat Mt. View senior Mark Ward, 5-4. Ward is a three-time Class B champion and had won the NEQ title the past two seasons.


“For him to be able to beat people as seasoned and skilled as Mark Ward and Matt Pooler, that says a lot for the type of competitor he’s going to become and already is,” said Marshwood Coach Pat Howard. “And he’s doing it at a middle to upper-middle weight class as a freshman, and that’s not common.”

In the regional meet against Pooler and the New England Qualifier against Ward, Isabelle was spent the entire second period in the top position without allowing an escape.

“He’s always on top, working his moves, trying to break down his opponent,” said Marshwood junior Sean Moriarty, the Class A runner-up at 126.

Howard said Isabelle reminds him of two of the best wrestlers in Marshwood history: four-time state champions Jackson Howarth and Cody Hughes.

“He’s probably a little bit of a good mixture of both. He’s built like Jackson and has the technique (of Hughes),” Howard said.

At New Englands, the competition only gets tougher. If Isabelle wins his first match, he’ll likely face Anson Dewar of Merrimack, New Hampshire, or Dominic Bonnano of Chariho High in Rhode Island. Both placed ahead of Isabelle at the Lowell Holiday Invitational in Massachusetts. Dewar was fourth and beat Isabelle, 12-2. Bonnano was sixth, and Isabelle placed seventh. Last year’s 145-pound New England champion, Tyler Sung of New Canaan, Connecticut, is also in Isabelle’s half of the bracket.


“I’m definitely looking to place, for sure,” Isabelle said. “Hopefully I can get fairly deep, and we’ll see how far I can take it. I’m just looking at it as, I’m a freshman, I really have nothing to lose, just go out there and let it fly.”

Isabelle lost two matches at the Lowell tournament. His third loss came in the 145-pound semifinals of the Spartan Wrestling Tournament in Sanford. Isabelle rebounded to take third place but decided he wanted to return to the 152-pound division.

“I just feel like a better athlete at 152,” said Isabelle, who is also a baseball catcher and a running back/linebacker in football.

Isabelle lives in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, which borders South Berwick. Rollinsford’s middle and high school students have attended Marshwood schools since 2015.

Isabelle started sharpening his wrestling skills at Smitty’s Wrestling Barn in Kingston, New Hampshire, as a fourth grader. Last summer, as part of Smitty’s middle-school team, Isabelle went 8-2 at the National Youth Wrestling Duals in Wildwoods, New Jersey, earning Bronze All-American honors.

Training at Smitty’s, Isabelle has worked against tough, older wrestlers. He fondly recalled drills with three-time New England champ Connor McGonagle from Timberlane High in New Hampshire. McGonagle is now a freshman at Lehigh University.


“I never came close to scoring on him, but that’s what’s crazy about it. You’re going somewhere not that far from home and you’re seeing some of the best people in the nation,” he said.

FOUR OF MAINE’S 42 entries have previously placed in the top six at New Englands. Oxford Hills senior Jeffrey Worster (220) was fifth last year, and Massabesic teammates Noah Beal-Hernandez (160) and Pooler (152) are returning after sixth-place finishes. Noble junior Josh Cote, the Class A and all-state champ at 132 pounds, was fifth as a freshman at 120.

Other Maine wrestlers with a good chance to place include: Noble freshman Derek Cote (113), 126-pound Class A champion Colby Frost of Bonny Eagle and runner-up Moriarty, Mattanawcook Academy’s Jackson Sutherland (54-0 record at 138), Mt. View’s Ward (152), Lisbon/Oak Hill’s Cam Bourget (43-2 at 182, 40-0 in-state), and 195-pounders Jonah Potter of Wells and Erik Benner of Medomak Valley. Potter, the Class B champ, is 46-2. He and Benner have split four matches. Benner won the New England Qualifier final by pin.

Dexter’s Justin Wing, with a record of 53-4, and Noble senior Sam Martel, who forfeited to Wing in the 145-pound final of the New England Qualifier, are in perhaps the toughest weight class, said Noble Coach Kevin Gray. “There are a couple of Division I commits in that weight class, and probably 10, 11 guys who you would expect to place top six most years,” Gray said.

Ryan Fredette of Winslow is Maine’s most recent champion, in 2018 at 182 pounds. Bradley Beaulieu of Marshwood (138) and Cody Craig of Skowhegan (106) won New England titles in 2017, and Peter Del Gallo of Gardiner was the 120-pound champ in 2016.

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