Three champs lead MAU to tournament crown
BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony wrestling team didn't have its usual number of champions at the Mount Anthony tournament on Saturday — only three Patriots finished at the top of the bracket.
But with five other runners-up, the Patriots won yet another MAU tournament, topping Pinkerton Academy (N.H.) and Averill Park (N.Y.).
"I thought that the competition was really good," said MAU coach Brian Coon. "Numbers-wise, it's similar to the state tournament. There were a ton of quality matches, some of the top kids didn't make it to the finals. As a whole, the team battled well and when it's close like this, the guys coming back for third and fourth make a big difference."
Keenan Taylor, Keegan Coon and Sam Wilkins all won tournament titles, while Landon Davis, Sam Blackman, Adam Frost, Chris Mayer and Hayden Gaudette earning runner-up finishes.
MAU scored 181 points, with the Astros second at 156.5 and the Warriors third at 151.5. The Gilbert School (Conn.) was fourth at 104.5 points and St. Johnsbury was the next Vermont team in fifth with 94.5 points. Salem-Cambridge was seventh overall with 73.
The championships were split evenly with seven schools having at least one champion. MAU, Pinkerton Academy and the Gilbert School all had three, while St. Johnsbury and Salem-Cambridge each had two. Averill Park and Rutland had one champion.
"Anytime you can win a team championship missing a couple of guys is impressive," Coon said.
Taylor went 3-0 on the day, winning all his matches by pin, including the final. In the championship match, he pinned Gilbert's Nick Barber in 56 seconds to improve to 18-1 on the year.
In the next title match at 145 pounds, Coon scored a 12-3 major decision over Averill Park's Sean Malenfant.
Coon took a 4-1 lead after the first period and extended it to 6-1 after two against Malenfant, who came into the championship match 20-4.
In the third period, Malenfant earned a takedown, but Coon got one of his own, along with two near-fall points to score the major decision.
At 195 pounds, Wilkins won all three of his matches by pin. In the final against Gilbert's Kevin Sullivan, Wilkins quickly took a 7-1 lead before putting Sullivan on his back at 1 minute, 31 seconds.
The win put Sam at 22-1, the only loss against Southington's Paul Calo, a two-time New England champ.
"I think the best thing for Sam was getting beat," Coon said."He's in doing the extra things, lifting, and he's refocused, and you could see that today."
Davis finished second at 106 pounds, falling by pin against Salem-Cambridge's Charlie Dill in 49 seconds. Davis fell victim to Dill's headlock early in the match.
"He got caught in the headlock," Coon said. "I guarantee he'll figure it out when he sees [a headlock] again."
At 113, Sam Blackman won his first two matches by pin to reach the final against the top seed, Dominic Robinson from Pinkerton Academy. Trailing 2-0 after one period, Blackman failed to get any traction, and ended up being tech falled with 30 seconds left in the match.
At 160 pounds, Adam Frost was edged by Rutland's Dakota Peters, 6-2, in the final. Peters took a 6-0 lead halfway through the third, but after an exchange where Peters hurt his leg on a tumble out of bounds, Frost turned the tables for a near-fall, but ran out of time.
Coon made a switch in the lineup before the tournament, putting Frost at 160 and Stephen Brillon at 170.
"Adam is athletic and flexible and strong on top, so I think it gave him a better chance at [160 pounds]," Coon said. "I think it'll pay off down the road, he has the ability to be a state champion."
At 220, Chris Mayer lost by injury default after the first period, when Mayer came up lame after a takedown by eventual champion Nik Koch. Mayer was keen to keep going, but the team forfeited him out with the injury. Going into the final, Mayer had won his first two matches by pinfall.
At 285, freshman Hayden Gaudette reached the final after a 3-1 overtime win in the semifinal against Gilbert's Dylan Keith. In the final against Pinkerton Academy's Nick Fortunata, Gaudette trailed 3-0 through two periods before getting a takedown early in the third to pull within 3-2. Fortunata escaped for a 4-2 lead, but the senior was called for a second stalling call with 40 seconds left, putting Gaudette down 4-3. With the home crowd screaming, Gaudette went for a takedown attempt in the final seconds, but Fortunata survived as Gaudette finished second.
"Hayden wrestled like he practiced," Coon said. "He didn't leave it on the mat all week in practice and it showed in the final," Coon said. "When you have a bad week in practice, it can translate into [a tournament]. He made one offensive move with five seconds left."
In classes without an MAU wrestler in the final, they were won by St. Johnsbury's Hunter Verge (120) and Zack Hebert (126), Gilbert's Devin Matthews (132) and Kyle Matthews (152) and Alex Smith (170), and Pinkerton Academy's Sterling McLaughlin (182).
Logan Sprague came back to take third at 182 pounds, while Kyle Hurley and Stephen Brillon were fourth at 126 and 170, respectively. Gage McLaughlin did not place at 152 pounds after losing by injury default in the semifinals.
The other local team in the tournament was Salem-Cambridge, who had two champions in Jacob Haynes at 99 pounds and Dill at 106. Hunter Day finished third at 160 pounds, Evan Day was fourth at 195 pounds, as was Jacob Lisowski at 120. Jamie Olvera did not place at 145 pounds. Rylie Burr went 0-2 at 160.
Mount Anthony will be off for a week and will compete at the Fair Haven Duals on Saturday.
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