Mt. Ararat/Brunswick Coach Erick Jensen and Brycen Kowalsky exchange a hug after a victory at the 2019 Class A wrestling state championships. Kowalsky, now a senior, is back this season for Jensen’s team, which should contend for another state title. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

1. Mt. Ararat/Brunswick: Coach Erick Jensen’s team has the best collection of top-end talent in Class A. Seniors Brycen Kowalsky and Spencer LeClair won individual state titles as freshmen when Mt. Ararat won its first Class A team title in 2019. Kowalsky, who will likely wrestle at 126 this season, backed it up with another title as a sophomore, while LeClair (145/152 range this year) was a state runner-up. Shea Farrell was runner-up at 132 as a freshman in 2020 and will be a major threat at the 160/170 level. Caleb Chamberland, a junior, placed at the North regional at 106 as a freshman but is now wrestling in the middle weights. Jensen has over 20 wrestlers and said his squad should be able to fill almost every weight class.

2. Sanford: The Spartans will be a strong dual meet team, as they demonstrated on Dec. 15 when they won at defending Class A champion Noble, 44-36. Junior James Blood is likely to return to 106 pounds, where he was second in Class A and at the New England Qualifier as a freshman. Seniors Jack Callis (170) and Kyle Nickerson (145) will be leaders. Nickerson impressed when he went 4-0 with four pins at the season-opening Sullivan Duals at York High. The freshmen class also looks strong, with James Chaplick and Luke Callis ready to contribute in the 113-126 range. Sophomore Brandon Gendreau showed he was a tough competitor with a late third-period pin at Noble in the 160 class. “I’m very, very optimistic,” said Sanford Coach Nate Smith, who has 28 wrestlers. “I think the team, overall, is stronger than it’s been in a long time.”

3. Noble: Derek Cote, a junior, is the only Noble wrestler who has claimed a podium finish at a state meet. Cote is likely to wrestle at 145 pounds after winning the Class A and New England Qualifier titles at 113 as a freshman. Cote was one of four individual champions for the Knights in 2020, when they won the team title for the first time in nine years, coming after a stretch of 11 titles in 13 years. Seniors Dylan Mulligan (170/182), Alex Marchand (132/126), and Aaron Foley-Pratt have varsity experience, while heavyweight Gavin Hartford was behind 2020 Class A champ PJ Exel. Freshmen twins Kaleb and Kaden Dustin and sophomore Cody Marchand strengthen Noble’s lightweights.

4. Wells: The Warriors have controlled Class B, winning four straight team titles from 2017-20. They have the combination of top-tier returners and depth to do the same this season. Three state champions return in junior Griffin Brickett, who will move up from 106 to 132; senior Michael Ducharme (120 to either 132 or 138), and senior Danny Marquis (113 to  120/126). Ducharme and Marquis were both second in the state as freshmen. While veteran coach Scott Lewia has only three other wrestlers with varsity experience, Wells won all four of its matches at the Sullivan Duals, including beating Sanford. Among southern Maine squads, York could give Wells a test behind heavyweight Will Orso and junior 145-pounder Ronan Thompson, who both placed at states in 2020.

5. Bonny Eagle: Unlike Sanford and Noble, the Scots will have to forfeit some matches in dual meets. But come tourney time, they could rise to the top of the heap behind a strong senior class, led by twins Caden (106 champ in 2020) and Cameron (113, third place) Frost, who have been podium finishers since the day they hit the high school mat. Caden will move up to 132, and Cameron, who always was giving up weight as a freshman and sophomore, is now at 126. In addition, senior heavyweight Tristan Day was third in Class A South as a sophomore, when he competed for Sacopee Valley and trained with the Scots. Now he is enrolled at Bonny Eagle and can, for the first time, count toward Bonny Eagle’s team total. Senior Trevor Perkins was fourth in the South regional at 132 and bumps up to 138 pounds.

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