ELLSWORTH — The wrestling scene in eastern Maine revolved around Hancock County on Saturday afternoon as wrestlers from 17 high schools came to Ellsworth for this year’s Class B North championships.
Wrestlers from Fort Kent to Calais to Belfast and everywhere in between packed Ellsworth’s Katsiaficas Gymnasium as fans in attendance sported team colors and hung banners. Yet despite tough competition from those teams, local wrestlers enjoyed plenty of success at the tournament.
Bucksport took fifth place at the Class B North wrestling championships Saturday as Ellsworth claimed seventh and MDI placed 15th. All three schools qualified wrestlers for the upcoming state championships.
For Ellsworth, senior Logan Lord went 3-0 on the day to win the regional title for the host team in the 138-pound weight class. Lord pinned Fort Kent’s Larry Nadeau in 2 minutes, 30 seconds and Belfast’s Jonah Lovejoy in 2:55 before scoring a 12-2 decision over Dexter’s Justin Wing in the championship bout.
At 285 pounds, David Gross of Bucksport stayed undefeated on the season to add a regional heavyweight title to his résumé. After pinning Belfast’s Shane Rumney in the quarterfinals and winning his semifinal contest against Foxcroft’s Jared Atkinson via default, he beat Penobscot Valley’s Joe Tuulima in a 14-3 decision to take home first place.
The win by Gross highlighted a strong day for Bucksport, which got second-place finishes from Alex Burbank (106 pounds), Kaleb Nightingale (113 pounds) and Ricky Perkins (152).
Yet arguably the most intriguing and intense round of the day was the consolation semifinals, which determined the final two state championship spots in each weight class. “The death round,” as MDI coach Tony Dalisio called it, was the deciding factor as to whether or not a wrestler’s season would continue for at least another week or come to an end.
“Both wrestlers know that this is it,” Dalisio said. “If you lose, you’re done. It’s a lot of pressure on one round, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
Local wrestlers who earned trips to states with wins in the round were Matt Reid, Noah Hughes and Charlie Hughes of Ellsworth (120 pounds, 160 pounds and 182 pounds, respectively), Jacob Coghill of Bucksport (220) and Sam Hoff of MDI (285). Hoff’s consolation semifinal win at 285 came after the senior trailed Fort Kent’s Manny Pettingill for most of the match before earning a pin in the third period.
Ellsworth’s Everett Huckins and MDI’s Ethan Harkins will serve as alternates for the state championships. Huckins finished with a record of 2-2 on the day in the 145-pound weight class for the Eagles with wins over Dylan Korsadovich of Calais and Josh Hesseltine of Mattanawcook Academy, and Harkins went 1-2 at 182 for the Trojans with a win over Keith Gehriger of Calais.
Foxcroft won the team championship with 169.5 points, and Dexter took second with 148.5. Mattanawcook scored 103 points to beat out Piscataquis (100 points) and Bucksport (96.5) for third. Belfast (95), Ellsworth (71), John Bapst (42), Fort Kent (41.5) and Washington Academy (27) rounded out the rest of the top 10.
Qualified wrestlers will head to Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln next Saturday, Feb. 16, for the state championships, which are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.