Monday February 25, 2013
VERGENNES -- As the mats were picked up and the Vergennes High School gym cleaned after the Vermont state wrestling championships, Mount Anthony Union High School coach Scott Legacy had a rare quiet moment to reflect on what his team had just accomplished.
"It's a magical, magical moment," said Legacy. "Twenty-five years ago, when we won the first one, if you told me that I'd be standing here talking about 25 in a row, I'd have said you were nuts.
"Then two happened and three. Some were close, some were big blowouts. I'm living in this world where I can't believe we've actually reached this."
The Patriots completed their "March to 25" on Saturday night with eight individual champions, extending their national-record championship streak to a quarter-century as they rolling to another Vermont state title, the 27th in the team's illustrious history.
Mount Anthony tied the second-highest score in tournament history with 324 points, matching their total from last season.
They outpaced runner-up St. Johnsbury Academy by 217 points. The meet record remains 332.5 set in 2001-02, when MAU had a school- and state-record tying 10 champions.
"It's been a roller coaster ride to get here," said Legacy, whose program extended its other national record of individual champions to 178. "When we get on the bus and talk about it, I think they'll realize it.
"They know they won a state title, but I don't think they recognize they added to it."
Thirteen Patriots reached the finals and will go to the New England tournament next weekend in Providence, R.I.
"We're a benchmark team for the 25th, people will remember it," said heavyweight Jesse Webb, who cruised to his third straight championship with a first-period pin in the finals. "And there's many more to come."
Webb became the 12th wrestler in school history to become a three-time champion, pushing his season record to 49-0 in the process.
The top-seeded Webb pinned Essex's Joe Ramada in 1 minute, 42 seconds. He hit one takedown, knocking the air out of his opponent and pinned him shortly thereafter.
"It's awesome and I've been looking forward to it," said Webb, whose career record is 161-9. "I'm trying to get four and this shows every year how much farther I've come."
Webb's teammates provided plenty of company atop the podium. Troy Gassaway at 113 pounds, Kyle Fletcher at 126 and Brandon Marcoux-Schaefer at 195 all scored decisions to earn their second straight Vermont crowns.
"It means everything, coming out senior year, it's an amazing feeling," said Fletcher (47-9). "I know my Vermont career is over but I still have New Englands, which I'm stoked for. Being a part of 25 is an amazing feeling, I'm glad I could be a part of it."
Gassaway made it 2-for-2 by beating Spaulding's Brandon Tyson, 7-3. He built a 7-0 lead in the first two periods to win his second straight Vermont crown and is 49-3 on the season.
Fletcher and Marcoux-Schaefer each had to grind out victories in their finals. Fletcher scored takedowns in the first and second period to beat St. Johnsbury's Jonathan Perreault 4-0.
Marcoux-Schaefer, giving up nearly 20 pounds, battled two-time state finalist Gabe LaBerge from Middlebury at 195 and overcame two stalling penalties in the final 40 seconds to win 4-3. The second-generation Patriot topped the field at 152 last year.
"I wrestled him earlier this season and beat him 6-2, so it was a similar situation here," Marcoux-Schaefer said. "I left it all on the mat."
"I said all year that Brandon has been a hero [this season], and I told him that again tonight," Legacy said. "It took big coconuts to give up that much weight and do what he did on a bum ankle."
Miguel Calixto won his first Vermont title after winning three in Connecticut, improving his season record to 55-0. He pinned his way through the tournament, capping it with a finals pin of Bellows Falls-Hartford's Steve Cerrone in 3:23.
Calixto was the aggressor, scoring three takedowns in the first period. In the second, he used his legs to turn Cerrone to his back to earn the fall.
"Winning state championships in two states is impressive," Legacy said.
The three other champions for MAU were Austin Price at 182 pounds, a 17-8 win over Vergennes' T.J. Simpson; Tyler Mattison at 170 with a 9-4 decision over Harwood's Kaegan Pearsall and Dylan LaFountain's 11-0 win over St. Johnsbury's Dominick Hahr at 120.
Price and Mattison moved up to the top of the podium after second and third place finishes, respectively, last year.
Non-MAU champions included Mount Mansfield's Ben Bliss at 106 pounds, Mill River's Zach Allen at 138, Bellows Falls-Hartford's Nolan Viens at 145, St. Johnsbury's Dylan Shattuck at 152, Fair Haven's Jordan Felion at 160 and Harwood's Kyle Streeter at 220.
Felion won the night's classic match at 160 pounds, beating MAU's Damon Young, 5-4, in double overtime. Young escaped with 1:22 left in the third period to tie the match at 4-4 and neither could score in the first overtime.
"Damon has been battling back from [a] concussion," Legacy said. "He was composed through the match. It was an exciting match and he lost with class."
Bliss remained unbeaten at 43-0 after a 7-1 decision over MAU freshman Tyler Raetz, while Allen scored a 6-4 decision over Bailey Willard. Bellows Falls-Hartford's Nolan Viens ground out a 7-3 win over Houston Shaler (145).
"After three years on JV, this was Houston's only year on varsity and he made the most of his shot," Legacy said.
Streeter also stayed unbeaten at 43-0 with a 3-1 decision over the Patriots' Jack Luciano at 220. Luciano and Streeter traded escapes to go into the third period at 1-1. As the crowd grew louder, chanting Streeter's name, his perseverance paid off, scoring a takedown with 1:17 left in the third period for the victory.
In the 152-pound final, the only one without an MAU competitor, Dylan Shattuck won his first Vermont crown with an 11-4 decision over Bellows Falls-Hartford sophomore Kyle Record.
In that class, Vince Pagan fell in the third-place match to John Hart from Fair Haven, and finished fourth.
With the 25th straight state title in hand, the Patriots' goal is to win their seventh New England title.
"Numbers give you advantage at New Englands, but you have to wrestle when you get there," Legacy said. "Every match is state champion [quality] or better, but they've seen a lot of those kids. We gear up for that one; we have that as a goal all year."