Saturday, March 8, 2014
BY TERRY DEVEREAUX, Correspondent
Mt. Blue senior Drew Blanchet recovered from nearly being pinned in his opening match at the Eastern A regional tournament to win the match and eventually place second in the 138-pound weight class.
Weekly Honor Roll
* Skowhegan’s Tyler Craig, Julian Sirois, Kameron Doucette, Kaleb Brown, and Andrew Pineo each won individual titles at the Eastern A regional tournament, helping Skowhegan to the team title.
* Madison’s Danny Moreshead earned his 100th career victory at the Western C championships.
* Nokomis’ Rusty Wilson and Jacob Nichols each earned individual titles and helped their team to a third-place finish at the Eastern A championships.
* Ryan Scott won the 126 pound class, helping Monmouth Academy to a fourth place finish in Western C.
* Ryan Malcolm of Madison won his third consecutive regional title at the Western C tournament.
* MCI’s Dylan Dahlbergh upset the number one seed to win the 120 pound class at the Eastern B regional tournament.
The fact that Blanchet was even wrestling in the tournament was even more of an amazing recovery story. Blanchet had lost most of the wrestling season due to surgery to repair damage to his knee suffered during the football season. Blanchet, a standout center on the Mt. Blue state championship football team, had a torn meniscus repaired on Dec. 5. At the same time, a cyst that had formed in the knee was also removed. The surgery left him with 17 staples in his knee and kept him off the mat for six weeks.
"After about six weeks of intense physical therapy and copious amounts of icing my knee, my range of motion was good enough so that I could start conditioning," said Blanchet. "The week after, I wrestled a home meet with heavy duty wrap around my knee. I could barely walk straight."
Coach Bob O'Connor kept Blanchet out of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship tournament to give the knee as much time as possible to rehabilitate.
"I would come home from practice some nights and my knee would be the size of a cantaloupe. But ice and ibuprofen fixes that," Blanchet said with a laugh.
Blanchet, a three-time state qualifier, entered the regional tournament with just a 6-2 overall record. He was given a No. 6 seed and his path to return to the state meet would be a challenging one.
When he found himself on his back in the first match at the regional tournament against Oxford Hills' No. 3 seed Kyle Dexter, Blanchet found the strength to fight free and later win the match by pin.
"I was thinking about how much I worked to get back to the point I was at and that if I could fight through everything else, I could fight getting pinned," Blanchet said.
Blanchet followed up that match with a 4-0 win over second-seeded Scott Kirkpatrick of Westbrook, guaranteeing himself a return trip to the state tournament. Blanchet's day ended with a silver medal after losing to Skowhegan's top-seeded Kaleb Brown in the championship final.
Blanchet, who placed at the state championship in both his sophomore and junior years, is taking a pragmatic approach to Saturday's state tournament.
"Basically I'm just taking the state tournament one match at a time, just like Coach O'Connor wants me to do," said Blanchet. "It's my senior year and as much as people have tried convincing me to throw in the towel, 'you had a good football season' and all that, I feel like this is something I need to do, especially since it's Coach's last year."
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Madison qualified nine wrestlers to the state championship and finished second as a team at the Western C regional. Ryan Malcolm led the Bulldogs by capturing the 285-pound class title.
"We had a great week of practice," said coach Scot Padelford. "All the kids knew that they could be a part of Madison history. This was the first team plaque in the 10 year history of the program."
Malcolm outlasted a familiar foe, Winslow's Aaron Lint, in his championship finals match by a 3-2 margin. This was their fourth meeting of the year.
"Ryan has won all of them," said Padelford. "This time the match went into three overtimes before Ryan got a reversal in the closing seconds."
Josh Shull (106), Cody Soucier (152), Matthew McLaughlin (170) and Derrin Moreshead (182) each placed second. Jen Allen (126) was third while Daniel Moreshead (145), Joseph Foss (160) and Mason Moody (195) all placed fourth.
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