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Foxcroft holds off Dirigo for wrestling title
FOXCROFT -- Dirigo knew it would have a tough task at the Class C state wrestling championship. But when it came down to push and shove, Foxcroft Academy simply had too much and scored 188 points to win their third straight crown.
Dirigo finished second with 158 points, led by a trio of state champions.
The Cougars realized the stakes were high when it ventured into hostile territory at Foxcroft for the second time in three years. It figured to be a two-team race between the Cougars and the Ponies, and that's exactly what transpired.
"We closed the gap," said Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert, following wins by Zack White (third at 220) and Cliff Boynton (fourth at 285), who each beat two of Foxcrofts No. 1 seeds in the consolation semifinals. "We needed some help from our friends, but there are no friends up here. We did place 10 kids."
Foxcroft neutralized the Cougars by winning two head-to-head matches in the consolation finals.
The Cougars champions included Griffyn Smith (106 pounds), Thomas Barnett (160) and Nelson Pepin (182).
Smith started things off by winning a hard fought 2-0 win against Dylan Hanscom of Dexter.
"I just went out and wrestled hard," said Smith, who is 44-0 as a freshman. "He was stronger than me, so I couldn't muscle him and used my legs."
Dirigo won Mid State league and regional in postseason.
There were several key matchups, including Bennett and Pepin, who each pinned Foxcroft opponents.
"It feels great," said Barnett. "A lot of work went into this and it all paid off."
Pepin overpowered Corbin Bruce. "I was nervous because I was so and didn't want to mess up."
Stuart Buzzell of Monmouth, named the most valuable wrestler, pulled out a fast-paced 9-5 decision over Jesse Hutchinson of Dirigo. They have traded wins against each other throughout the season, including Hutchinson's 6-5 win in the regional final.
The Cougars' DJ Webber was a finalist at 170 and Brett Whittemore placed third at 152.
Foxcroft had four champions, including Antonio Ayala sticking JD Martin of Lisbon at 113 and the Cougars' Reilly Lombardi (132). Freshman Gus Brown placed fourth at 120.
Zack Stevens of Lisbon executed a standing escape at buzzer for a 9-8 win against Mike Larson of Calais. Stevens won a state crown at 120 last year.
The 14 individual state champions have automatically qualified for the New England championships next month.