A 20-hour road trip to southernmost Maine proved fruitful for the Mattanawcook Academy wrestling team Tuesday.
Nearly half of the 13-member squad earned top-four finishes in their weight classes as the Lynx won the Noble Invitational tournament hosted by Noble High School of North Berwick.
Mattanawcook Academy and Massabesic High School of Waterboro each scored 152 points to pace the 33-team, 21-school field, with Mattanawcook earning the championship via tiebreaker.
Bonny Eagle of Standish was third with 138 points, with Mt. Ararat of Topsham (133) and Wells (122) rounding out the top five.
“It was a long day but worth every second of it,” said Mattanawcook coach Matt Lindsay, who with his team left their Lincoln school at 4 a.m. and returned home with the championship plaque just after midnight.
Mattanawcook was led by three individual champions in senior Jackson Sutherland, junior Isaac Hainer and freshman Cole Albert. Senior Deegan Tidswell finished second in his weight class while senior Alex Munson and sophomore James Dube each scored a fourth-place finish.
“Going down there and facing some of the top teams from the south we knew was going to be a big challenge,” Lindsay said. “But we knew with the talent and the discipline that my guys have shown over the years, we were hoping to finish in the top three or top four.”
Sutherland, already a two-time Class B state champion at 113 pounds as a freshman in 2019 and at 138 pounds in 2020 before the 2021 season was canceled due to COVID-19, won each of his three matches by pin, including a stoppage of Kennebunk’s David York at 1:07 of the first round of the 170-pound championship bout.
Hainer, the Class B state runner-up at 145 pounds in 2020, also won all three of his matches by pin. He stopped Kyle Graffam of Mt. Ararat at 1:42 of their 182-pound title bout.
Both Sutherland and Hainer were top seeded in their weight classes.
“Going down there we knew they should probably win,” Lindsay said. “Nothing’s a given, but they went out and did what they needed to do as far as scoring points, getting pins and staying in good position and not giving up anything.”
Albert was seeded third at 120 pounds and won his first two matches by pin to reach the semifinals. He then outpointed Julian Henderson of Camden Hills of Rockport 2-0 before surging past top-seeded Cam Frost of Bonny Eagle of Standish 18-6 in the championship match.
“We knew that was going to be a really tight match but we were hoping that Cole, a freshman wrestling against a senior who was very experienced, would get that victory,” Lindsay said. “After the first period he started opening things up and scoring a lot of near-fall points. He really picked up the pace and in my opinion started to dominate the match in the second and third periods.”
Tidswell, who captured the Class B state title at 106 pounds in 2019 and finished second in the same weight class in 2020, was seeded third at 113 pounds. He won his first three matches — two by pin — to reach the title bout before dropping a 6-5 decision to top-seeded senior James Blood of Sanford, who had moved up from 106 pounds for the competition.
“It’s not often you get a couple of seniors at that low a weight class,” Lindsay said. “It was another tight match, and it was good for Deegan because up this way there’s not a lot of 113s. He’s been getting a lot of forfeits, so getting down to Noble and getting that tough competition was exactly what he needed.”
Munson, who had just returned to the team after being sidelined due to a bout of COVID-19, was seeded seventh at 195 pounds. He dropped his first bout to third-seeded Henry Pharris of Camden Hills but battled back with three straight victories to reach the consolation final before falling to Pharris again in the battle for third and fourth places.
“Alex is a fighter. He’s nothing but heart and he’ll give you every bit he’s got and he did that [Tuesday],” Lindsay said. “By the time he got to that fifth match he was incredibly exhausted.”
Dube, competing in his first year of high school wrestling, was seeded fourth at 220 pounds and rebounded from a second-round loss to eventual runner-up Kaden Cyr of Bonny Eagle to win three straight matches by pin to reach the consolation final.
But with a five-match daily limit for high school wrestling in Maine, Dube was unable to compete in a sixth match and settled for a fourth-place finish.
“He might have been our wrestler of the match,” Lindsay said. “Coming in as a sophomore at 220 against some pretty experienced wrestlers is not an easy job, but he wrestled awesome. He was all aggression with good positioning, and he made smart decisions out on the mat. I think he turned a lot of heads.”