By Mike Whaley / email@example.com Feb 8, 2019
Host Noble has a full roster as it looks to defend the title it won last year at Marshwood, ending the Hawks’ six-year reign.
Marshwood comes in lean and mean with nine wrestlers. After finishing as the runner-up to the Knights at the regional last winter, the Hawks went on to win their sixth Class A state title in seven years the following week.
They return five wrestlers who played key roles in that championship run.
“Basically they need to have a really good tournament,” said Marshwood coach Pat Howard. “This tournament sets you up for the state tournament.”
David Spinney (152 pounds) and Liam Coomey (138) are returning state champions. Sean Moriarty (120), Carsen Goodwin (126) and Dylan Strong (182) all placed at states a year ago.
Freshman Aydin Rix-McElhinney (132) has had a great rookie season and should be able to move on, along with junior Zach Mercier (285) and senior Brandon Sandler (145), who didn’t finish last season.
Sandler recently rejoined the team after being ineligible, according to Howard. “He contacted the staff and said he wanted to get back on the team. We told him the criteria he had to follow from the MPA to come back. He met all the criteria and got signed off.”
Sandler returned to practice last week and wrestled several matches this past weekend to qualify for the regional tournament.
Two years ago as a sophomore, Sandler was fourth at the state meet at 106.
Also in the mix is Jaime Alvarez del Manano at 160. Seniors Joe Wessling (injury) and Aaron Penney (personal) will not be available.
Noble has five legitimate scoring wrestlers and coach Kevin Gray hopes some of the others can have good days and wrestle through to the states.
The Knights’ two top wrestlers, junior Sam Martel (138) and sophomore Josh Cote (126), are back healthy after bouts of illness. Cote is a defending state champ.
Senior Duncan McGilvery (145), and juniors Jaden Balcewicz (120) and Chris Pilcher (160) should all be serious contenders to place top-three. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state meet.
The 138 weight class is one of the more interesting ones from a local perspective as Martel and Coomey could see each other in the final. The two did not meet this year, but tangled four times last year at 126. Martel won three of those, losing to Coomey only in the state meet.
“We’re feeling OK for the regionals,” Gray said. “We started to come together a little bit at the end of the season. We’re getting everybody where they should be — healthy and ready to go. Injuries and illness seem to be past us now, knock on wood.”
The key is advancing wrestlers at 152, 182, 195, 220 and heavyweight. “If we can get something out of them, that’s a bonus for us,” Gray said. “During the year we’ve had some good matches and some not so good matches out of those weight classes.”
Gray said Noble is one of the few teams filling all 14 weight classes: “We’re hoping that helps us if we can push through some of those guys that are on the fringe and hopefully they can get some points there.”
Wrestling at Noble begins Saturday morning at 9:30.
The Class A state meet is set for next Saturday (Feb. 16) at Cony High School in Augusta. The New England Qualifier will take place Feb. 23 at Oxford Hills High School.