By Ernie Clark - Bangor Daily News - AUGUSTA - Dexter High School's Jeremiah Barkac looked and felt a little worse for wear Saturday night. There was the rib injury he's been nursing the last few weeks and a swollen ear. Then there's an infected tooth and related ill feelings, the result of a practice accident several days ago. Finally, there was some discoloration stemming from a poke in the eye.
Such is life even for the best of high school wrestlers as Barkac proved himself to be again earlier in the evening when he became just the eighth four-time individual champion in Maine history during the Class C state meet held at the Augusta Civic Center.
Barkac's Tigers racked up 127 points to finish third behind Dirigo of Dixfield (183) and Lisbon (171.5).
Barkac actually had little trouble in the competition itself, scoring a 22-7 victory by technical fall over Lisbon's Jeff Cossar in a 112-pound final that ended midway through the third period.
Barkac, who is undefeated against instate competition during his four years at Dexter and improved his Maine record for career victories to 186 with three wins at the state meet, had hoped for an even more convincing end to his title match.
But Cossar, who also lost to Barkac by technical fall earlier this season, was content to avoid being pinned.
"He was definitely trying not to get pinned and I knew that was what he was going to do," said Barkac, named the meet's outstanding wrestler. "I was really sick, so I was planning on taking him down and getting the pin, but he just dropped down and clammed up so I couldn't really do anything to him."
Barkac, who will attend 2006 NAIA wrestling champion Dana College in Blair, Neb., on a scholarship next fall, joins older brother Chris, a 2005 Dexter graduate, among the elite group of four-time state champions from Maine and will attempt to add a first New England title to his resume early next month.
"I think it's pretty exciting," said Barkac, who is 45-0 this season with 42 pins. "I like everything about it."
In addition to Barkac's performance, Dexter also received additional first-place finishes by Josh Harvey (152 pounds) and twin sophomores Mike (103) and Brian (119) O'Connor.
Ronnie Harvey (125) added a second-place finish for the Tigers, while Nate Redmond (285) was third and Ryan Newcomb (135) finished fourth.
"Our expectations were to do as best as we could with what we have," said Dexter coach Adam Gudroe, whose Tigers tied Dirigo for having the most individual champions in the meet. "We made a pretty good run at the end of the year."
Eastern C champion Foxcroft Academy placed fourth with 112 points, while Penobscot Valley Conference winner Bucksport (94) was fifth.
Foxcroft crowned two individual champions in senior Colby Johnson at 130 pounds and junior Jerod Rideout at 145. Johnson earned a tough semifinal win over Dirigo's Derek Daley, then cruised to an 11-0 major decision over Marcus Bubar of Lisbon in the final. Rideout earned his third state title with a 19-9 major decision over Lisbon's Cameron Bubar and, like Barkac, is looking forward to the New England championships.
"That's been a goal of mine all season," said Rideout, whose only loss this winter was a 1-0 decision to Dean Smith of Danbury, Conn., in the championship match of the Redskin Invitational in Sanford. "I want to place in the top six at the New Englands. That's something I've been looking toward."
Jon Geiger placed second for the Ponies at 215, while Kaleb Mann (112), Ethan Whittemore (140), and Bill Macomber (171) earned thirds and Mark Badeau (103) was fourth.
Bucksport crowned one individual champion in 160-pound Stephen Klenowski. Jon Pelletier (140) and Andrew Wescott (285) each placed second for the Golden Bucks, Shaun Powell (125) and Craig Woodard (215) gained thirds, and Cameron Wadleigh (152) finished fourth.
Dirigo won its first state title since 1996 thanks to first-place finishes from Jon Smith (140), Kyle Miele (171), Kevin O'Leary (189), and Pat O'Leary (285) and superior depth — the Cougars were the only team to qualify wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes.
Massabesic of Waterboro ended Noble of North Berwick's eight-year reign as state champion, outpointing the Knights 145.5-130.5. Peter
Gilman (135) and brothers Joey (140) and Josh (171) Eon all won titles as the Mustangs earned their first state crown since 1998.
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