Deering chasing wrestling glory again; Cheverus, Portland programs on the rise
The Deering wrestling program has produced numerous individual state champions this decade. Names like Kane, Stein, Smith, Weimer and Toussaint have had their turn at the top and this winter, senior Tyler DeBardino is ready to take his turn.
DeBardino, who was the third-best heavyweight a year ago, is back looking to win it all this season. He's coming off a Tournament of Champions title over the summer. While the Rams aren't quite as deep as they've been in the past, they should be one of the better teams in Western Class A.
Seniors Diondrea Howard (135 pounds), Arjan Nekoie (145), Harrison Stein (130) and Corey Van Brocklin (189), along with sophomore Connor Darling (171) and freshman Nick Darling (130) are also in the mix.
"We have good numbers," said longtime Deering coach Al Kirk (32nd year). "We'll be very competitive. We have some good support people and eight freshmen. We have all the weight classes covered right now. Tyler has a legitimate shot at a state championship. We'll be in the top four or five."
The Rams opened at the Westbrook Tourney Saturday.
Elsewhere, Cheverus and Portland are looking to grow their programs this year.
The Stags welcome a new coach in Ben McCrillis, who wrestled at Westbrook, American International and with the U.S. World team.
Cheverus has three wrestlers who could make a quick impact: Junior Kane Molleo (140), sophomore Mike Dedian (189) and freshman Ian Whitis (103 pounds).
"We have really good numbers," said McCrillis. "I'm looking to build off what I have now. We don't have a tradition to build on. We're trying to create one. We want to finish a full year of dual meets and be competitive and healthy. We'd like to win a dual meet."
The Stags host Portland in the teams' mutual opener Wednesday.
Speaking of the Bulldogs, they'll be paced by three juniors: Pat Cormier (145), Fred Huber (135) and Len Schwartz (130). Three newcomers are worth watching as well. That group includes junior Evan Michalski (119 or 125 pounds) and sophomores Garrett Cormier (140) and Nate Porter (heavyweight). Portland should be competitive against most of the teams it squares off against and hopes to produce some state meet talent by February. There's a good chance that several of those mentioned will have a chance to wrestle on the big stage at year's end.
"We expect to send four or five wrestlers to the state meet and to win half of our dual matches," said Bulldogs coach David Elowitch, entering his seventh season.
Looking ahead to the postseason, the regionals are Feb. 6 (at Deering). The state championship meet is Feb. 13.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org