Foxcroft Academy wrestling wins third consecutive regional championship

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THORNDIKE — The Foxcroft Academy wrestling team has been a force in the eastern/northern region for the last 20 years. Now the Ponies have won three straight Class B North titles — and six of the last eight regional crowns as well as 11 in 17 years under head coach Luis Ayala — after finishing in first place at the 2018 competition on Feb. 10 at Mount View High School. The Ponies earned 191.5 points, over 80 more than runner-up Dexter Regional High School with 109 points.

Coming into this season that goal of winning a regional title seemed like a long shot. “We had a young team coming into the season,” Ayala said. “But the maturity and improvement that they have shown through this long wrestling season has been amazing.”

Early in the season Foxcroft lost to some fellow Penobscot Valley Conference (PVC) teams. The Ponies fell to Bucksport at the Dexter Duals and to Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln at the Howland Tournament. “These early losses motivated us to work harder at practice and it pushed us as coaches to get our team mentally ready for the road ahead” Ayala said.

Foxcroft’s schedule was one way that helped prepare the young Ponies. “We have a tough schedule in the first half of our season,” Ayala explained. “We go to some tough wrestling tournaments and that type of competition prepares us for the end of the year.

“Another thing that has helped us has been how the team has bonded throughout the year. We are family.” This type of team bonding was evident at the last several tournaments when the whole team could be seen in the wrestler’s corner, cheering him on with their large crowd support.

Going into regionals, the race for the title was predicted to be a close race because of the large amount of teams coming from the PVC and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference — a total of 24 schools were going to compete. Class B North had the largest amount of wrestlers competing compared to the other three regional competitions in Classes B and A over the weekend.

“So we were completely ecstatic about our win with a commanding lead,” Ayala said. That type of improvement was on display at 106, 138, 145, 152 and 195 pounds.

At 106 freshman Austin Jackson surpassed his seed to qualify for states. At 138 sophomore Jacob Ireland, a junior varsity wrestler for most of the year, pulled some upsets to also qualify for states.

At 152 freshman AJ Atkinson, came in third .“AJ has just shown some great toughness to compete and to be able to succeed at a very competitive weight class,” Ayala said.

At 195 junior Josh Whittemore started the season weighing at 215, but he worked hard to dropped the weight to give the Ponies a wrestler at the lighter class and he qualified for states as well.

The major surprise for the Ponies was at 145 and junior Jacob Diamond. He won his first high school tournament on Saturday. “He has been close before, but for him to step up at regionals and win was just amazing,” Ayala said.

Foxcroft ended up with five wrestlers in the finals, three champions and 11 Ponies qualified for the Class B championship on Saturday at Wells High School.

Pony champions were RJ Nelson at 132 pounds, Diamond at 145 pounds and Elijah Ames at 170 pounds.

Runners-up were Rico Ayla at 113 points and Dustin Simmons at 160 pounds.

Joining their teammates at the state competition will be Jackson, 106; Brandon Weston, 120; Grady Reardon, 126; Jacob Ireland, 138; Atkinson, 152; and Whittemore, 195.

At 109 points, Dexter finished second and narrowly edged the 107 point total for Mattanawcook.

Caleb Weeks and Tyler Beem both captured 2018 Class B North championships for the Tigers. Weeks came in first in the 120-pound division and Beem was the top 160-pound wrestler.

Isaiah Hesseltine finished as the 145-pound runner.

Also earning bids for Saturday’s state championship were Justin Wing at 126 pounds, Gage Stone among 132-pound grapplers and Dongjoon Kim in the 195-pound class.

Piscataquis Community High School finished 16th among the 21 schools with a score of 21 points.

The Pirates’ Zachary Wilson was the 2018 Class B North 170-pound runner-up.

1. Foxcroft 191.5 2. Dexter 109
3. Mattanawcook 107 T-4. Medomak
and Mount View 102 6. Ellsworth
79.5 7. MCI 66 8. Belfast 61.5
9. Penobscot 56 T-10. Bucksport
and Fort Kent 54 12. Oceanside
47 13. Winslow 37 14. Caribou
35 15. Calais 21 16. PCHS 21
17. Hermon 20 18. John Bapst
10 19. Bangor Christian 9.5
20. Lee 4 21. Washington 3
113: Sirois (Penobscot) Dec
4-0 over Ayala (FA)
120: Weeks (Dexter) Dec
7-6 over Ashmore (Bucksport)
132: Nelson (FA) Dec
3-1 over Curry (Belfast)
145: Diamond (FA) Dec
11-6 over Hesseltine (Dexter)
160: Beem (Dexter) Dec
4-3 over Simmons (FA)
170: Ames (FA) fall
5:40 over Wilson (PCHS)
Consolation finals
106: Fogarty (Oceanside) fall
5:10 over Jackson (FA)
120: James (Calais) Dflt
over Weston (FA)
126: Reardon (FA) Dflt
over Wing (Dexter)
132: Mushero (Mattanaw.)
Dflt over Stone (Dexter)
138: Jandreau (Caribou) fall
3:53 over Ireland (FA)
152: Atkinson (FA) Dflt
over Racioppi (Belfast)
195: Kim (Dexter) Dec
1-0 over Whittemore (FA)

Photo courtesy of Angela Ayala
MORE HARDWARE FOR THE PONIES — A week after finishing in first place at the Penobscot Valley Conference championship, the Foxcroft Academy wrestling team won its third consecutive Class B North title on Feb. 10 at Mount View High School in Thorndike. The Ponies scored 191.5 points, over 80 more than the 109 for runner-up Dexter Regional High School. The regional title is the sixth in eight years for the Ponies and 11th in 17 seasons for Foxcroft head coach Luis Ayala.

Photo courtesy of Angela Ayala
2018 CLASS B NORTH CHAMPS — The Foxcroft Academy wrestling team captured the Class B North wrestling championship on Feb. 10 at Mount View High School in Thorndike, the Ponies’ third regional title in a row and sixth in the last eight seasons. RJ Nelson at 132 pounds, Jacob Diamond at 145 pounds and Elijah Ames at 170 pounds were the three Pony champions and 11 team members qualified for Class B championship on Saturday at Wells High School. Also grappling in the state finals will be five Dexter wrestlers and Zachary Wilson of PCHS.

Photo courtesy of Angela Ayala
145-POUND PODIUM — Foxcroft Academy’s Jacob Diamond captured the 145-pound title at the Class B North championship on Saturday in Thorndike, and next to him is weight class runner-up Isaiah Hesseltine of Dexter. Placing third and fourth were Zachary Ward of the host school and Calais’ Cody Pellerin respectively.

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