ROCKPORT – Camden Hills played host to this year’s Class A Wrestling State Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 18. Four Blazes earned the right this regular season to make the long trek up the coast: Ryan Shackley, Connor Kerwin, Brandon Lebourdais and Stephen Foster all competed for Westbrook/Gorham, with Lebourdais ultimately claiming fourth and Foster third.
Shackley (in the 120-pound weight class) succumbed 14-11 in his first bout, vs. Duncan McGilvery of Noble, and thus bounced to the consolation bracket. There, he began by pinning (in 2:08) Josh Mackaman of York/Traip; in the next round, however, he found himself pinned (in 1:36) beneath Jaden David of Oxford Hills.
Connor Kerwin (160 pounds) lost his opening bout to Sam Anderson of Sanford in a pin at 1:58; he likewise lost in the first round of the consolation bracket, this time to Chris Sarzynski of Marshwood, who pinned him at 2:14.
Lebourdais, competing at 195, defeated Khaalid Kakande of Sanford in a 12-2 decision in the first round, but lost via pin at 2:17 in his follow-up contest with Marshwood’s James Thompson. He began his push through the consolation bracket with a 9-6 decision over James Boyd of Nokomis, but dropped an 18-2 decision to Massabesic’s Noah Schneider in the third-place bout.
Foster (285 pounds) won his opening match – pinning his opponent, Alex Smith of Bonny Eagle, in 2:30 – but suffered a 2-0 decision defeat in his second, where he grappled Zeb Leavitt of Cheverus. Foster pinned Jamal Hill of Oxford Hills at 2:36 of the duo’s consolation battle, then pinned Zach Eastman of Marshwood even more quickly – at 1:59 – in the third-place bout.
“I was really impressed with how Stephen and Brandon wrestled tough all day and kept their strong seasons going another week,” said Westbrook/Gorham coach John Nicholas. a’As first-year wrestlers, they have improved so much and have been a huge part of this year’s success.”
Ryan Hutchins, Nicholas’s co-coach, wrote a lengthy Facebook post expressing his pride in Lebourdais and Foster. “Brandon, essentially wrestling up a weight class all season, defeated two wrestlers yesterday who had beaten him throughout the season, including a Regional Champion, to reach the consolation finals and finish fourth,” Hutchins wrote. “And Stephen showed tremendous character, after losing a heart-wrenching semi-final match 2-0, coming back to pin his next two opponents to finish third.”
“Being a state champion is a great accomplishment and a cool title,” Hutchins wrote, “but what these two have done this year, and yesterday in particular…showing dedication, being willing to take risks, demonstrating perseverance through personal and wrestling adversity, all these things are beyond the importance any title could ever have.”
Lebourdais and Foster earned the opportunity to compete at the New England Qualifiers tournament, held at Marshwood on Feb. 25. There, Foster finished fourth, making him an alternate for the New England tournament
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Both Brandon Lebourdais and Stephen Foster reached the podium at States on the 18th.
L-R: Ryan Hutchins, Brandon Lebourdais, Peter Grant (the team’s third coach), Stephen Foster, John Nicholas.