It seemed every wrestler had a good reason to be extra motivated Saturday at the Zeb Leavitt Memorial Invitational at Cheverus High.

For the hosts, it was about honoring the memory and the legacy of Leavitt, a charismatic and caring 2018 Cheverus graduate and Class A heavyweight state champion who died in a car accident in December of 2020. Leavitt did not go to school with any of the current Cheverus wrestlers, but they know his impact.

“I never got to go to school with Zeb Leavitt, but from all the upperclassmen (in previous years), from everyone I’ve talked to, he was like the most loving, caring, best friend you could ever have,” said Cheverus senior Marshall Fowler, who continued his unbeaten season, winning the 160-pound division. “I got to talk to him twice and he was amazing to me. So I think it’s fantastic that we were able to have this and honor him.”

Cheverus senior Sebastian Merrill also won an individual title, taking the 195-pound division with a 19-3 technical fall. Merrill credited past wrestlers like Leavitt and 2020 graduate Sean Sullivan, along with Coach Jason Barriault, with transforming Cheverus from a team with just a couple wrestlers training at Deering High into a 20-person team that has hosted a tournament the past three seasons.

Now it’s Fowler, Merrill and fellow senior captain Braden Smith who are following the example of Leavitt and Sullivan by “being friendly, talking to them, getting new freshmen to join the team. People who had never wrestled, like myself.”

For the 10 visiting teams, the Leavitt Memorial was a rare chance in the 2021-22 season to experience a tournament atmosphere. Last week’s Sanford Wrestling Annual Tournament – usually among the toughest fields in the state – was canceled because of COVID concerns. Many teams have purposely avoided large, multi-team events.

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Sanford scored 154 points and had five individual champions to win the team title. Sanford’s only previous tourney had been the Noble Invitational in late December. The Spartans were not originally scheduled to attend Saturday but got a late invitation Wednesday evening when other teams had to withdraw.

“Any opportunity you get to wrestle now, it’s awesome,” said Sanford Coach Nate Smith.

“I think we need a lot more mat time,” said Sanford senior Kyle Nickerson, the 145-pound champion. “Last year, we were robbed of all our mat time, and just to get these freshmen and sophomores out here on the mat and really learning is important.”

Other individual winners from Sanford were James Blood (106), James Chaplick (120), Luke Callis (138) and Adrian Zea (182). For Zea, a native of Ecuador, where he was a kick-boxer, Saturday was his second varsity wrestling competition.

The first-year co-operative Windham/Westbrook/Gray-New Gloucester Wolfpack put six in the finals and had two individual champions to finish second with 136 points in the team’s first tourney of the season.

No spectators were allowed, but with two mats operating at the same time for the championship and consolation matches, there was still plenty of team-based cheering and energy, particularly from the Wolfpack.

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“We’ve had meets, but the atmosphere in the tournament, all the teammates, and every team had someone who was getting third, or first, or even second. It’s all an accomplishment,” said Windham junior Scott Ingalls, who won the 170-pound final, 3-1, with a late takedown.

“It sucks there were no parents, but at least we got to have a tournament,” Ingalls said.

Ayden Cofone was the Wolfpack’s other champion, winning at 113.

Mountain Valley, perennially one of the top Class B teams, placed fourth with 117 points, led by 152-pound champ Lucas Libby, who was named the tournament’s overall outstanding wrestler. Cheverus was fourth with 101.5.

A total of 82 wrestlers participated. The 145-pound class was the only division with a full eight-person bracket.

Other individual winners were Marshwood’s Aiden Hashem (126), Mountain Valley’s Zack Putnam (132), and the Cony duo of Jonny Lettre (220) and Nathan Shedd (285).


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