BAR HARBOR — Less than two years after the Mount Desert Island High School wrestling program’s revival, the high school got to spend a weekend as the center of the eastern Maine wrestling world.
Teams from all across the region traveled to MDI on Saturday for this year’s Penobscot Valley Conference championships. The meet pitted the Trojans against some of the area’s top teams and showcased just how far the program has grown in just two short years.
“You just have to be really grateful to see wrestling highlighted on MDI,” MDI head coach Tony Dalisio said. “We have an awesome venue, and we got to showcase that and show people that wrestling belongs on the island.”
MDI took seventh place to finish in the top half of the 14-team field. The Trojans totaled 52 points on the day to place ahead of Caribou, Washington Academy, Penobscot Valley, Old Town, John Bapst, Calais and Hermon.
Ethan Harkins highlighted the day for MDI with a first-place finish in the 182-pound weight class. Harkins topped Logan Perkins of Dexter in the championship bout to take the title.
Harkins credited his win to Dalisio, whom he said put him in the right mindset to tear through the 182-pound field. The MDI junior said he wasn’t in the best of moods when he woke up for the 9 a.m. meet, but his coach helped him channel his energy into a big-time performance
“I wanted it, but I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” Harkins said. “Coach just took me aside, sort of snapped me into it and put me in the right mindset. I was just dialed in as soon as I got on the mat.”
At 170 pounds, Baylor Landsman earned a bye to the semifinals, where he defeated Jon Howell of Dexter. The junior lost to Jacob Nadeau of Piscataquis in the title match to take second place.
Logan Blanchette gave MDI another podium finish with a third-place effort at 106 pounds. The freshman lost to Dexter’s Ethan Milliken in his opening bout but followed the loss with wins over Foxcroft’s Cameron Parlee and Caribou’s Ethan Edgecomb to take the title.
Elsewhere for MDI, Travis Boumil and Hunter Gray reached the consolation semifinals at 132 and 138 pounds with wins over Bucksport’s Jazmyne Rines and Sam Soper, respectively. Killian Page competed for the Trojans at 126.
With the MDI wrestling program having been dormant for three years following the 2014-15 season, the current Trojans had little to no experience in the sport prior to last year. That’s made the program’s rise to producing championship contenders all the sweeter.
“We owe it all to our coach,” Harkins said. “Even though our repertoire isn’t as advanced as everyone else’s, repertoire is second to effort. He’s really taught us to go out and give it everything we’ve got.”
MDI will be back in action at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, when it competes in the Class B North championships at Caribou High School. Qualified wrestlers will then compete in the state championships at 9 a.m. the following Saturday, Feb. 15, at Fryeburg Academy.
Dalisio believes Harkins and Landsman have what it takes to compete for championships in both meets. No matter what, though, he knows the program’s success in just two seasons since its return says a lot about its growth and prospects for the future.
“We just want wrestling to be able to stand alone as a sport that you can grow from and learn from and that will make you a better person,” Dalisio said. “The results are great, but that’s the most important thing about what we’re building.”