Sports

Wrestlers excel at Middlebury tournament

MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE Logan Pierro puts a move on Tiger freshman Layne Chant in his first-round win at 106 pounds during Saturday’s Hubie Wagner Invitational tournament in Middlebury.

MIDDLEBURY — Wrestlers from Mount Abraham, Vergennes and Middlebury union high schools combined for three first-place finishes, a second, four thirds, and four fourths at Saturday’s 48th Annual Hubie Wagner Invitational, hosted by the Tigers.
Mount Abe fared the best, finishing third out of 17 teams and seeing six Eagles score top-four finishes, including two who ended up standing on top of the podium: freshman Devan Hemingway at 126 pounds and junior Nate Lavoie at 160.
Seniors John Bent and Matt Cleaves took thirds at 152 and 285, respectively, and freshman Matt Conant was third at 126. Sophomore Maddie Donaldson won her first varsity match and took fourth at 120 for the Eagles, who scored 102 points and trailed only Granville, N.Y., (148.5) and Essex (118) in the team standings.
Mount Abe edged New Hampshire teams Bow (101.5) and Newport (97) for third, with VUHS (91) not far behind in sixth. Junior Aidan Gebo led the Commodores by winning at 132 pounds, repeating his performance from Granville’s tournament the week before.
Eagle Coach Nick Mayer said his team’s step forward on Saturday came after the Eagles had a tough time at Granville, and the results showed their true colors — while at the same time giving them a shot in the arm.
“It’s definitely a good morale booster,” Mayer said. “We started off strong here.”
The tournament could springboard the Eagles forward, he said.
“We’ve got some good positive momentum with the team. Everybody’s working hard. I think we’ve got a good vibe going in the practice room,” Mayer said. “A few of these wrestlers, I see it all the time, it’s like they’re on a plateau, and then all of a sudden it’s like a light bulb goes off … For some of these guys it’s really starting to click, and it’s fun to see.”
For VUHS, junior Gabriel Payne-Vinick took second at 220, and junior Barret Barrows was third at 182 after taking fourth in Granville. Commodore juniors Jeremiah Moulton and Zach Botala were fourth at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively.
VUHS Coach Eugene Stearns said his wrestlers have been going the extra mile in practice, and while they are coachable they have an asset that can’t be taught.
“So far things look good,” Stearns said. “I can’t overestimate the heart of these guys. They’ve got a lot of fight in them. You don’t coach that.”
Stearns said that extra help he is receiving this season from assistants Casey Buckley and Gary Hallock and volunteer Nate Kittredge has sparked team-wide improvement, both through extra individual attention and energy in the room.
“I have a few extra coaches this year, which is huge,” Stearns said. “The kids are really taking to these other coaches … They bring something I don’t have, some further techniques, some different techniques, and different looks these kids are responding to.”
Coach Ethan Raymond’s host Tigers have only three wrestlers with varsity experience on the roster, and all of them — sophomore twins Calvin and Tucker Kennett and Brian Whitley — did well on Saturday and won two matches. Only Calvin Kennett at 160 reached the podium, taking fourth.
Tucker Kennett and Whitley finished with winning records at 152 and 145, respectively, but did not score enough points in the round-robin portion to qualify for the semifinal rounds. Overall, the Tigers finished with 23 points, good for 13th place.
At Granville a week earlier the Tigers — many of whom are just getting their feet wet at the varsity level — won just one match. Raymond could justifiably point to this past weekend’s performance as evidence of the progress he said he sees on a daily basis in the wrestling room.
“I’ve seen much better technique and positioning, which was our biggest thing, just lack of positioning,” Raymond said. “We’ve made big improvements, in my opinion. Even the kids that lost their matches look better.”
And he sees a team with the attitude to buy in for as long as it will take to build a competitive program.
“They’re positive. They’re walking away knowing they’re a little bit better after each match, and they’re coming in and working hard. And they’re a fun group of kids who like each other, and we’re having fun in the room,” Raymond said. “So things are going in a good direction.”
The Eagle, Commodore and Tiger wrestlers and their records at Saturday’s tournament were:
• 106: Layne Chant, MUHS, 0-2; Logan Pierro, MAU, 1-1; Samantha Hallock, VUHS, 1-2; Izzy Emmons, MAU, 0-2; Eli Brace, VUHS, 0-2. Winner: Anson Ritondo from Newport, N.H.
• 113: Parker Kayhart, VUHS, 1-3. Winner: Wyatt Rheinhart, Bow.
• 120: Donaldson, MAU, 1-3. Winner: Gavin Ross, Concord, N.H.
• 126: Hemingway, MAU, 4-0; Conant, MAU, 1-2. Winner: Hemingway.
• 132: Gebo, VUHS, 5-0; Dawson Phillips, MAU, 1-2; Milo Gordon, MUHS, 0-2; Taylor Stearns, VUHS, 1-2. Winner: Gebo.
• 138: Parker Gero, MAU, 1-1; Ruby Markowski, MAU, 0-2. Winner: Ben Stapleton, Colchester.
• 145: Moulton, VUHS, 2-2; Whitley, MUHS, 2-1; Jack Chaput, VUHS, 2-1. Winner: Mike Wilkinson, Newport.
• 152: Bent, MAU, 4-1; Botala, VUHS, 3-2; Tucker Kennett, MUHS, 2-1; Lucas Grover, MAU, 1-2. Winner: Dylan Lee, Fair Haven.
• 160: Lavoie, MAU, 5-0: Calvin Kennett, MUHS, 2-2; Landon Taylor, MUHS, 2-2. Winner: Lavoie.
• 170: Hunter Gorton, MAU, 1-2; Gabe Kadric, VUHS, 0-4. Winner: Sully O’Hara, Harwood.
• 182: Barrows, VUHS, 4-1. Winner: Chris Folsom, Essex.
• 195: Justice Green, MAU, 1-2; Colby Pierro, MAU, 0-3. Winner: Logan Beebe, Granville.
• 220: Payne-Vinick, VUHS, 4-1; Liam Wagner, MUHS, 0-4. Winner: Will Murphy, CVU.
• 285: Cleaves, MAU, 3-2; Nick Sheldrick, MUHS, 1-2. Winner: Will Zachistal, Bow.
Fair Haven 152-pounder Dylan Lee earned the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler award. Lee fought back in the final period to pin Bow’s Andrew Bliss, who had defeated him in the 152 final a year ago.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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