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Eagles, Commodores wrestle well at VUHS meet

VERGENNES — Mount Abraham Union High School wrestlers won three weight classes and finished in the top four in three others at the annual Bob Benoure Invitational on Saturday, while the young host Commodore team picked up two seconds, a third and a fourth in matches held in the Vergennes Union High School gymnasium.
The Eagles continued their strong season by finishing third with 127 points among 17 teams, trailing only Essex (202.5) and Malone, N.Y. (140.5). The Commodores finished eighth in a tight group in the middle of the pack with 86.5 points, two points behind Mount Mansfield.
Winning for the Eagles were three seniors:
•  Roman Mayer at 126 pounds. Mayer, ranked No. 1 in Vermont at vermontwrestler.com, pinned three opponents before coasting to a 19-3 major decision over Connecticut Valley, N.H., wrestler Matt Kimball in the final.
•  Gary Conant at 138. Conant, ranked No. 2 in his weight class, picked up one win by pin and two by shutout (6-0 and 8-0) before edging Essex wrestler Wyatt Lamell, 7-5, in the title match.
•  Kevin Pearsall at 225. Pearsall, ranked No. 3, won his first two matches by pin in 17 and 55 seconds. But Commodore senior Brady Gebo put up more of a battle in the 220 final before Pearsall pinned him in the last minute of the third round.
COMMODORE 145-POUND wrestler Zach Botala clamps a headlock on Eagle Sam Rathbun during action at Saturday’s VUHS tournament. Botala won the match and earned third place overall.
Independent photo/Steve James
Mount Abe Coach Nick Mayer said the third-place effort in the tournament showed the Eagles are rounding into form after injuries slowed them for much of the winter. The team is aiming for a second-place finish at the upcoming Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Tournament, and another strong performance at the state meet later in February.
“We have been struggling this year with a number of injuries, and taking home the third-place trophy out of 17 teams is a testament to what we have the potential to do when everyone is healthy and we have a full roster,” Mayer said. “We have a great, intense energy in the practice room being packed with 21 wrestlers, who all are psyched to be there every day.”
Also finishing second for the Commodores was sophomore Gabriel Payne-Vinick, who pinned his only opponent before reaching the 195-pound final. There, Springfield’s Brandon Bennett pinned Payne-Vinick.
Picking up a second-place finish for the Eagles was sophomore Nate Lavoie at 152 pounds. Lavoie won twice before losing to Gil Stawinski of Essex in the final, 13-6.
Both teams had one third-place finisher. Vergennes sophomore Barret Barrows finished with a 3-1 record at 182 pounds and defeated Massena’s Preston Guynup, 9-7, in the consolation final. Mount Abe sophomore Izzy Emmons earned third by default as one of three wrestlers at 99 pounds.
One other Eagle and one Commodore finished third: Mount Abe junior Parker Gero compiled a 4-2 record at 132 pounds, and VUHS sophomore Zach Botala went 3-2 at 145 pounds.
EAGLE SOPHOMORE NATE Lavoie checks the referee to see if has scored a fall during Saturday’s tournament. Lavoie won the match and earned second at 152 pounds.
Independent photo/Steve James
Also competing at the Commodores’ Bob Benoure Tournament for VUHS or Mount Abe were:
•  At 120, Eagle Maddie Donaldson, who finished with an 0-2 record.
•  At 126, Commodore Aidan Gebo (3-2).
•  At 132, Commodores Ashton Greenia and Jeremiah Moulton, both 0-2.
•  At 138, Commodore Jack Chaput (1-2).
•  At 145, Eagle Sam Rathbun (0-2).
•  At 160, Eagle Hunter Gorton (1-2).
•  At 182, Eagle Justice Green (0-2).
•  At 222, Eagle Keaton Rayborn (0-2).
The Mount Abe, VUHS, Middlebury and Otter Valley teams are all scheduled to compete in this Saturday’s major Mount Mansfield tournament. Vergennes is scheduled to host Mount Abe and Spaulding on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m., and the three county teams are scheduled to compete at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference tournament at St. Johnsbury on Feb. 9.

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