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Cougar grapplers capture regional
BUCKSPORT -- In a case of having too much in little spaces, the Dirigo wrestling team once again proved its worth.
The Cougars have relied on their depth throughout the season and achieved its objective again, as 181.5 points was good enough for a solid performance to win the Class C West Regional for the second straight year. The Cougars had scored 194.5 points in the same gymnasium at Bucksport High School in 2012 regional.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state meet this Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Dirigo qualified 12, including champions Griffyn Smith (106 pounds), Jesse Hutchinson (145), Brett Whittemore (152), Thomas Barnett (160), DJ Webber (170), Nelson Pepin (182) and Zack White (220).
Smith, who is unbeaten, started things off by winning with a technical fall, 15-0.
"We wanted to put 10 in the finals. We only got nine, but we wanted five regional champions and we ended up with seven," said coach Doug Gilbert. "We told them we've got to set the table for this Saturday. You can't think of this as a regional tournament. You've got to think of it as a two-day tournament, regionals and states. The better we set ourselves up this week, the better our chances (this) Saturday.''
Defending two-time state champion Foxcroft Academy and Dexter will each give Dirigo a run for the crown.
A case in point is sophomore Jesse Hutchinson, who pulled out a hard fought 6-5 decision over Stuart Buzzell of Monmouth. The two have traded wins against each other throughout the season in very competitive matches. Whittemore followed by winning by injury default match against Cody Saucier of Madison. The Bulldog wrestler suffered a dislocated shoulder and is out for this Saturday.
White won his 100th career match in the finals and is the fifth Cougar wrestler to reach century mark this season.
The Cougars had taken control with a dominating semifinal round, although two had byes and advanced to the finals. Barnett, Webber and Pepin each won hands down. Freshman Lucas MacDonald lost a close decision in the finals at 195 and Misty Steward was also a finalist at 113.
Cougars placing third, which included Reilly Lombardi at 132 and Cliff Boynton at 285. Freshman Gus Brown placed fourth at 120.