As a freshman, Windham’s Ayden Cofone won the Class A North, Class A state and New England Qualifier wrestling titles at 113 pounds, then placed fifth at the New England championships. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

WINDHAM — Ayden Cofone grew up hearing the annual Thanksgiving debate.

Who was the better high school wrestler?

His father, Dom Cofone, would point to being a state champ at Westbrook High (at 135 pounds in 2001), having a better winning percentage, and placing sixth at the New England championships. Ayden’s uncle, Dan Cofone, never won a state title, but he could counter that he wrestled at New Englands twice as the Class A alternate, and his fourth-place finish in 2004 (189-pound class) was better than Dom’s. Both finished with 117 career wins.

“They’re both competitive and they’d always argue about who had the better career,” said Ayden Cofone, 15, a Windham High sophomore. “I wanted to step up and show I’m the best Cofone.”

In one season, he probably settled the argument.

Ayden Cofone dominated the 113-pound division last season for the Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook co-operative team. En route to being named the Varsity Maine All-State selection for his weight class, he racked up a 38-5 record with 24 pins. He won Class A North, Class A state, and New England Qualifier titles.


“He’s the best,” Dom Cofone admits, albeit grudgingly. “He’s already the best. I had to be a senior before I was as good as he was as a freshman.”

At the 2022 New England championships, Ayden Cofone lost his first match in overtime, then ripped off four straight wins – three by pin, one by technical fall – to get into the medal round. He lost his consolation semifinal but recovered from that setback with one more win to finish fifth.

“His top game is elite. He’s well rounded in all phases, but when he gets on top of you, he’s lethal, and that showed at New Englands,” said John Nicholas, the Windham co-operative coach. “He was wrestling some top caliber kids and he got on top and was able to turn them right over to their back and put them away. It was impressive.”

Ayden Cofone warms up at practice with his teammates at Windham High on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Cofone, who stands 5-foot-6, has moved up to 120 pounds and is 5-0 this season, and a key part of a Windham/GNG/Westbrook Wolfpack squad that should be in the hunt for team honors in Class A North. He was named the outstanding wrestler at the season-opening Westlake Tournament in Bath.

Nicholas has seen all three Cofones in action. He was a volunteer assistant with Coach Dennis Walsh when Dom Cofone was a sophomore. After a stint as Portland’s head coach, Nicholas came back to Westbrook when Dan Cofone was a junior, and he succeeded Walsh as the head coach the following season.

“They all wrestled different styles and they all were at different weight classes, so it’s hard to really compare,” Nicholas said. “I’ll probably say Ayden will be the best, when it’s all said and done. If he stays on this track and keeps working hard, he should have the bragging rights in the family.”


Ayden Cofone has set big goals. He wants to win a New England title – as soon as this season.

“We don’t have too many guys who do it (from Maine), so I want to establish myself at the top of New England,” he said. “And nationals. I skipped out on (the Virginia Beach) nationals last year, and I’m definitely going this year to see where I’m at against the top sophomores in the country.”

He also has the chance to become a four-time Maine state champion, something 24 wrestlers have accomplished. Because the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020-21 season, no one from the graduating classes of 2021-24 had or will have that opportunity.

Ayden Cofone’s goal this season is to win a New England title and to perform well at nationals. “I’m definitely going this year to see where I’m at against the top sophomores in the country,” he says. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“I’m always thinking about winning four states. Always imagining what it will feel like,” Cofone said.

When he first started wrestling in first grade, Cofone said he mostly goofed off with friends in practice and didn’t go to any tournaments. “I didn’t really like the sport,” he said.

The next year, Dom Cofone began working with the youth program as an assistant. The elder Cofone said he could see his son had talent for the sport but …


“He started the season 3-5 and I was like, ‘Man, I can’t believe this.’ I thought he was going to dominate. And then all of a sudden he went on a 22-match winning streak,” Dom Cofone said.

As success mounted, Ayden Cofone benefited from his dad’s experience and coaching.

“We’d do practices at home and work outside and do workouts together,” Ayden Cofone said. “And as I got better, I just fell more and more in love with the sport.”

Dom Cofone acknowledges his son benefited from extra practice he could provide, as well as many opportunities to compete with club teams in out-of-state competition.

“But it’s one thing to do all those things and it’s another to be successful. You can’t make them train hard in practice,” Dom Cofone said. “That has to come from them. They have to want to be good. Ayden, he likes it, enjoys it, and he wants to be really good.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.