Foxcroft edges Dexter to win fourth straight PVC wrestling title
GUILFORD — Dustin Simmons had plenty of individual motivation at Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference wrestling championship meet.
Three previous trips to the championship finals had produced nothing but disappointment. And the clock and scoreboard weren’t working in the Foxcroft Academy senior’s favor late in his last bid for a conference title against Gabriel Stone of Dexter in the 160-pound final.
But Simmons rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the final seconds for a buzzer-beating 6-5 victory that not only satisfied his personal goal but became the difference as Foxcroft edged Dexter by 4.5 points to capture its fourth consecutive PVC crown.
The Ponies finished with 169 points, just ahead of Dexter’s 164.5. Bucksport (111), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (100) and host Piscataquis Community High School (86) rounded out the top five in the 15-school field.
“Senior year and being the one that makes the difference in the team winning and losing, winning the championship final after coming up short all those other years, and then making that final time the fourth year that we’ve won the conference championship is amazing,” said Simmons.
Stone, who had lost to Simmons twice earlier this season, controlled most of the first two rounds and maintained the lead deep into the third.
Simmons scored a one-point escape with about 10 seconds left in the third and final period, then parlayed that momentum into an almost immediate two-point takedown to close the gap to 5-4.
Time was ticking down, but Simmons wasn’t through as he scored the tying and go-ahead near-fall points as time expired.
“I needed to win this year and I was down points and I was exhausted but I just pushed the tempo to the end,” said Simmons. “I had to get a takedown and then I locked up the cradle and got the two back points in the last second.”
That victory earned Foxcroft three team points, and had the decision gone the other way Dexter would have scored the team victory by 1.5 points.
“Dustin never gave up and that was great to see,” said Foxcroft head coach Luis Ayala. “He had never won this so as a senior he had extra motivation, and he had seen (Stone) before so he had the confidence that he could do it.”
Simmons was one of two individual champions from Foxcroft along with sophomore Lucas Ames, who won the 195-pound division.
But as much as Simmons’ heroics and Ames’ three pins on the day helped Foxcroft regain the PVC crown, so did the team’s depth.
The Ponies got second-place finishes from Rico Ayala (120 pounds), Josh Tatlock (138) and A.J. Atkinson (152).
Seven other Foxcroft wrestlers reached the consolation finals with Sawyer McCarty (106) and Grady Reardon (126) each placing third and Austin Jackson (113), Khrystofor Downing (132), Jacob Ireland (145), Sahak Barseghyan (170) and Jared Atkinson (185) all finishing fourth in their weight classes.
“It’s always a long season and we’ve had our ups and downs this year but it was great to see the guys put it together today,” said Ayala. “We’ve been battling Dexter all year long, they beat us in a couple of tournaments and we beat them in another one so it’s been back and forth and we knew it was going to be close.”
“I am so proud how we competed all day long.” Ayala said. “It was not easy be any means. Dexter gave us all we could handle. We had some early adversity, but we gathered the troops together and we refocused. That showed a lot of maturity from them, to look deep within themselves and to give their all for the team. This victory was a complete team effort.”
Dexter crowned a meet-best four individual champions, with Justin Wing at 138 pounds and Isaiah Hesseltine at 152 both defeating their Foxcroft rivals in the championship finals. The Tigers also got victories from Eric Bennett (220) and Caleb Weeks (132), while Stone and Gus Irwin (170) each finished second.
Zac Wilson, who last year became the first Piscataquis wrestler to capture an individual state championship since the school re-instituted wrestling more than a decade ago, successfully defended his PVC title at 170 pounds.
PVC wrestling championship
1. Foxcroft 169 2. Dexter 164.5 3. Bucksport 111 4. Mattanawcook 100 5. PCHS 86 6. Ellsworth 74 7. John Bapst 38 8. MDI 38 9. Calais 33 10. Caribou 32 11. Washington 30 12. Penobscot 30 13. Bangor Christian 23.5 14. Sumner 5 15. Lee 4
106: Deegan Tidswell (MA) pinned Alex Burbank (Buck) 1:01; 113: Jackson Sutherland (MA) def. Kaleb Nightengale (Buck) 0:36; 120: Landon St. Peter (JB) dec. Rico Ayala (FA) 7-1; 126: Oakley Dugans (BC) pinned Ethan Moulton (PCHS) 1:35: 132: Caleb Weeks (Dex) pinned Travis Mushero (MA) 5:46; 138: Justin Wing (Dex) pinned Josh Tatlock (FA) 3:15; 145: Logan Lord (Ells) pinned Jacob Nadeau (PCHS) 1:19; 152: Isaiah Hesseltine (Dex) pinned A.J. Atkinson (FA) 3:17; 160: Dustin Simmons (FA) dec. Gabriel Stone (Dex) 6-5; 170: Zachary Wilson (Piscataquis) pinned Gus Irwin (Dex) 4:32; 182: Josiah Brown (WA) pinned Charlie Hughes (Ells) 0:46; 195: Lucas Ames (FA) pinned Jared Smith (JB) 2:12; 220: Eric Bennett (Dex) pinned Dakota Page (MA) 3:37; 285: David Gross (Buck) maj. dec. Joseph Tuulima (PV) 10-2
106: Sawyer McCarty (FA) pinned Nathan Mower (Dex) 4:25; 113: Mitchell Grower (Cal) pinned Austin Jackson (FA) 0:52; 120: Travis Hutchinson (Buck) pinned Matt Reid (Ells) 0:24; 126: Grady Reardon (FA) maj. dec. Clyde Carr (MA) 12-2; 132: Fischer Cobb (PCHS) dec. Khrystofor Downing (FA) 9-4; 138: Caleb Robbins (Car) dec. Colby Emery (PCHS) 9-2; 145: Nathan Schobel (Dex) dec. Jacob Ireland (FA) 2-1; 152: Richard Perkins (Buck) pinned Jeremy Foskett (Ells) 0:20; 160: Kaden Demerchant (Car) pinned Baylor Landsman (MDI) 1:33; 170: Nick Taylor (Ells) pinned Sahak Barseghyan (FA) 0:27; 182: Ethan Harkins (MDI) pinned Trent Scott (Dex) 2:30; 195: Anthony Woods (Dex) pinned Kale Sapiel (Cal) 1:34; 220: Jacob Coghill (Buck) pinned Terri Montemaggi (Cal) 1:45; 285: Sam Hoff (MDI) pinned Jared Atkinson (FA) 2:06