Mt Ararat/Brunswick High School’s Brycen Kowalsky, top, went 2-2 in the New England at the 2020 New England Championship. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Maine’s top high school wrestlers are returning to the New England Championship this weekend.

The two-day tournament begins Friday and concludes Saturday at the Providence Career and Technical Academy in Providence, Rhode Island.

The New England Championship was not held in 2021. Maine wrestlers did not compete at all in high school meets in the 2020-21 school year but other New England states did conduct seasons.

“Having a year off it’s hard to gauge where our guys are compared to other states,” said Noble Coach Kevin Gray. “There was no New Englands in 2021 but other states did wrestle and they had a big contingent of wrestlers who went to regionals or nationals or out-of-state meets. Our guys who do the club stuff still traveled some last year but it’s harder, especially for the guys from further north.”

The 42-wrestler Maine contingent – three from each of the 14 weight classes – qualified for the New England meet at last Saturday’s New England Qualifier, held at Morse High in Bath.

Class A team champion Mt. Ararat/Brunswick is sending four wrestlers, including three-time state champ Brycen Kowalsky at 126, who went 2-2 at the 2020 New Englands in the 120-pound class and placed fourth as a freshman, and two-time state champ Spencer LeClair at 152.


Mt. Ararat Coach Erick Jensen expects Kowalsky, who finished second to Class B champion sophomore Gavin Ripley of Oceanside at the qualifier, and LeClair to be competitive this weekend.

“They’ve been there before and they have wrestled out of state in the past. It’s not going to be a wide-eyed experience for them and they’ll go in there and do what they have to do,” Jensen said.

Having past experience helps Maine wrestlers adapt to a rougher, more physical style with a greater emphasis on scoring.

“Typically, a lot of our top guys are used to getting that pin in the first minute. That’s not going to happen down there,” Jensen said. “You have to weather the storm and keep scoring throughout the whole match.”

“It’s just a more physical style of wrestling,” Gray said. “And, obviously there’s more talent. The guys from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, they’re used to wrestling four, five good matches in a day.”

Noble’s top contender will be junior Derek Cote at 138 pounds. Cote knows how to rack up points and won two New England matches as a freshman at 113 pounds.


“He’s seen a good plethora of guys from New England, New York, New Jersey and he’s used to that style,” Gray said. “I don’t think that’s going to scare him.”

Jackson Sutherland, a senior from Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, is a three-time Class B and New England Qualifier (NEQ) winner. Now wrestling at 170 pounds, Sutherland went 2-2 at 138 pounds as a sophomore at the New England meet.

Sutherland’s teammate Cole Albert, a freshman, leads a strong group at 120 pounds that includes Class A champion Julian Henderson and Bonny Eagle senior Cameron Frost.

Caden Frost, Cameron’s twin brother, was the NEQ winner at 132 pounds. He won two matches at New England as a 106-pounder in 2020.

Oxford Hills senior Dillon Worster has dominated the 195-pound weight class in Maine this season and he went 2-2 at New Englands in the 182-pound division as a sophomore.

Jensen said Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark could be in the mix at 145 pounds and that the 152-pound contingent of LeClair, Mountain Valley’s Lucas Libby, and Owen McDuffie of Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook is the strongest trio from Maine in one weight class.


Gray pointed to Sanford’s 106-pounder James Blood and York’s 285-pounder Will Orso as two other wrestlers who could reach the podium.

In recent years, Maine has typically had four or more wrestlers place in the top six, with a handful winning their divisions. The 2017 group fared exceptionally well. Cody Craig of Skowhegan (106 pounds) and Bradley Beaulieu of Marshwood (138) capped their senior years with New England titles while Robert Hetherman of Mt. Ararat/Brunswick and Ryan Fredette of Winslow placed second. Fredette won the 182-pound title in 2018 and David Gross of Bucksport won the heavyweight class in 2019.

In 2020, Jeffrey Worster of Oxford Hills was Maine’s top finisher, placing second at 220 pounds while Noah Hernandez of Massabesic (5th, 160), Ben Laurence of Mt. Ararat/Brunswick (6th, 170) and Mark Ward of Mt. View (6th, 152) made the podium.

“The playing field is getting leveled somewhat because more clubs are popping up in Maine,” Jensen said. “We’ll see how the year off from COVID affects us but Maine has shown we have an ability to compete very well, at least as individuals.”

Comments are not available on this story.