Mount Anthony preps for grind of New Englands
BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony wrestling team hasn't won the New England championship since 2015 and the Patriots are hungry to take back the regional crown.
On Wednesday, the Patriots were prepping for this weekend's tournament, which will take place at Methuen High School on Saturday and Sunday.
"A big part of the New England tournament is the prep," said MAU coach Brian Coon. "If you show up mentally prepared, everyone is even, it's about who will break first, who has had a better week of practice and that makes a difference in the New England tournament."
Nine wrestlers will compete for MAU — Devon Hurley at 113, Landon Davis at 120, Kyle Hurley at 132, Keegan Coon at 138, Aaron Johnson at 145, Stephen Brillon at 152, Adam Frost at 160, Sam Wilkins at 195 and Hayden Gaudette at 285.
Coon said the team will be led by Wilkins, Keegan Coon and Frost.
"I think we have those three guys that can make the finals or semifinals and then four other guys winning multiple matches, it gives your team a chance to win it," Coon said.
Wilkins, who became the 10th ever four-time Vermont state champion in history, would face a tough quarterfinal against Connecticut's Carson LiCastri if the seeds hold. Both are New England champions, Wilkins winning his as a sophomore and LiCastri taking the crown at 182 last spring.
"Sam wants that match, anytime he wants that match, I like our chances," Coon said. "He understands if he tries to get into a power match, he could get overwhelmed, but if he uses his pace and athleticism, those things can win out. The pressure is on [LiCastri], he's the higher-ranked guy. It's a good spot for Sam."
Frost will be at 160 pounds and could face Massachusetts' Dom Sackley in his first match, his opponent in the Lowell Holidays final.
"He was taking it to him at Lowell and held on at the end, I think he's a lot better, but he needs to stave off the pressure," Coon said.
Keegan Coon comes in as a two-time place-finisher and looks to finish his career with a title.
"He's big at 138, strong and fast," Coon said. "He has a tough run, with [Ryan Jack] at the weight, even though he's on the other side of the bracket."
Jack, from Danbury, is ranked in the top 20 in the country regardless of weight class and will attend North Carolina State next year.
"If Keegan can get to that point, he'll have opportunities," Brian Coon said.
Gaudette was one match short of placing last year and looks to make a mark at heavyweight as a sophomore.
"There's four guys, Hayden, Stephen, Landon and Kyle, all could win multiple matches and place," Coon said.
Brillon may end up with Chelmsford's Evan Goodell at 152 pounds in the opening match.
"If he can get past that, Stephen can definitely place," Coon said. "And Hayden, he can't lose those 1-point matches, but he can do it, he's been aggressive this year."
MAU was 10th last year and are looking to improve.
"Those things are earned, when we took second, third, we earned it. It is a drop off, but when you set the bar high, you have to hold the standard," Coon said. "I was disappointed on how last year finished, but there wasn't a huge margin between third and 10th. If everyone wrestles the way they know how, we'll be in the mix for a team title."
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