BERWICK — Even with an unexpected mid-tournament change of location, the 36th annual Noble Wrestling Invitational delivered, with tough, deep weight classes from top to bottom and a down-to-the-wire team battle.
“We come for the competition and this gives us a chance to see the southern teams,” said Nokomis Coach Scott Preble.
Nokomis, of Newport, left with something else from the state’s largest wrestling tournament – the team championship, edging Class A North rival Skowhegan by eight points, 170.5-162.5.
Twenty-six schools were represented, including some from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Quintin Richards put the exclamation on Nokomis’ title when he pinned Zach Elowitch of Portland to win a rugged 152-pound class.
A few minutes earlier, David Wilson of Nokomis had beaten Elijah Ames of Foxcroft Academy to win at 160.
Cony (135) placed third to give Class A North a top-three sweep. Wells, the defending Class B champion, was a point back in fourth and Noble fifth with 130.5.
The two-day tournament had to be moved from the high school in North Berwick to Noble Middle School.
Midway through Friday’s wrestling, frozen pipes were detected, rendering the sprinkler system inoperable.
“The North Berwick fire department came and then the state fire marshal was contacted, who didn’t allow us to continue,” said Noble’ first-year coach, Kevin Gray.
A quick decision was made to move the equipment and one mat to the middle school, and start early Saturday to make up the matches scheduled Friday.
“All the teams came back and I’m really appreciative of that,” Gray said.
With only two mats available, the pace was slower but the smaller gym created an active, loud atmosphere.
Sam Martel got the home crowd revved when he beat Richard Oberg of Skowhegan 12-6 in the 126-pound final. A sophomore, Martel said he wasn’t nervous by his large home crowd, unlike when he was a freshman.
“This year I had fun and didn’t let the nerves get to me,” Martel said.
Wells’ strong showing was paced by champions Michael Wrigley (182) and Nolan Potter (220).
Wrigley pinned four wrestlers in a total of 3:42, dropping Austin Pelletier of Messalonskee in a minute flat in the final.
“It’s always good to get the pins. I always want to go out and dominate,” Wrigley said.
“It’s all basic stuff, things I learned in probably fourth grade. I just try to be really good at what I do.”
In an exciting 220-pound final featuring two big men who could move, Potter rebuffed a good challenge from James Boyd of Nokomis and worked a pin at 4:26.
Heavyweight Eric Pilcher of Berwick, who now attends Tilton Academy prep school in New Hampshire, won his 100th career match and defended his Noble title when he pinned Nick Works of Sanford in the final in 31 seconds.
Pilcher also was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
“It’s pretty cool that it would work out that I could do it in my hometown,” Pilcher said. “It was pretty exhilarating to do it front of so many people and friends, and get the applause that I got.”
Other individual champions were Jake Craig of Skowhegan at 106; Andrew Fallon of La Salle Academy (Providence, Rhode Island) at 113; Josh Brown of Nokomis at 120; Samson Sirois of Skowhegan at 132; Caleb Frost of Bonny Eagle at 138; Noah Lang of Camden Hills at 145; Sam Anderson of Sanford at 170; and Nic Mills of Cony at 195.