Whether it was the thrill of victory as the referee slammed his hand to the mat after a pin or the excitement of scoring more points than one’s opponent at the end of the allotted time, many student-athletes’ hands were raised throughout the Midcoast on the wrestling mats this winter.

And for their efforts, 20 of the area’s top grapplers are honored as VillageSoup unveils its second annual high school wrestling notables.

This year’s wrestling notables include Belfast’s Jordan Young, Peter Kelley, Kornealius Wood, Brent Waterman, Ethan Fitzjurls, Evan Drinkwater and Justin Philbrook; Camden Hills’ Jacob Powers, Connor Winchenbach, Jake Halberg, Max Bragg, Rhett Chase, Brandon Rich, Calan Bragg, Tom Cassidy and Coleman Powers; Medomak Valley’s Stefan Nichols and Dylan Look; and Mount View’s Roger Flannery and Tim Abbott. The Powers are brothers and the Braggs cousins.

Philbrook, Wood, Max Bragg, Young, Jacob Powers, Halberg and Rich are seniors; Cassidy, Drinkwater, Fitzjurls, Chase and Nichols, juniors; Waterman, Kelley, Coleman Powers, Look and Calan Bragg, sophomores; and Winchenbach, Flannery and Abbott, freshmen.

VillageSoup will name notables in all high school varsity sports where there are at least two Midcoast teams in that season playing an official varsity schedule. Student-athletes who will be considered for notable distinction can come from Belfast Area High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Rockland District High School, Medomak Valley High School, Georges Valley High School, Vinalhaven High School, North Haven Community School, Islesboro Central School, Mount View High School and Searsport District High School.

In the winter, VillageSoup names notables in wrestling, boys and girls basketball, swimming/diving and indoor track.

Wrestling is offered at Belfast, Camden Hills, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Mount View of Thorndike.

The criteria to become a Midcoast notable student-athlete begins with the VillageSoup sports department polling area coaches to provide a list of what they feel are their top student-athletes for that season, not necessarily a high school career. In this case, for wrestling, Belfast’s Ted Heroux, Camden Hills’ Levi Rollins, Medomak Valley’s Billy Bramhall and Mount View’s Hamilton Richards were polled for their nominations.

The notables are based on individual performances, although the strength of a team’s season may impact how many players from a specific team are selected.

In naming notables in a sport, VillageSoup is not trying to highlight every potentially deserving student-athlete from a given team, only to highlight the most consistently strong performers during a particular season in a particular sport. Obviously, with any such list of notables being subjective, not all those initially considered ultimately will make the final list of notables.

In addition, there usually is at least one representative from each school in a given sport, but that is not always the case. From that point, the rest of the notables could be a mix of student-athletes from many schools, or weighted heavily on one or two schools. Obviously, the more success a particular team has will, in some respects, dictate the number of potential notables it receives.

In most sports, the nomination process for a sport begins with the VillageSoup sports department polling area coaches to provide a list of what they feel are each respective team’s premier players for that season, not necessarily for a high school career. The notables are based on individual performances, although the strength of a team’s season may impact how many players from a specific team are selected.

A nomination only guarantees each candidate’s consideration, not ultimate notable status. While the input of each coach is weighed heavily with each candidate, the final decisions are made by VillageSoup Sports Director Ken Waltz and Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell.

Again, not all potential notables will ultimately become VillageSoup’s notables. Only those nominated by coaches and ultimately selected by the VillageSoup sports staff.

Belfast, competing in Class B, finished the regular season with a record of 14-1. The Lions took home second-place honors in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships with a score of 217.5, finished second in the Eastern Class B championships with 209 and finished third at the state Class B championships with 105. Belfast had three grapplers secure individual state titles, six regional champions and five conference champs.

Camden Hills, competing in Class B, finished the regular season with a record of 15-4. The Windjammers nabbed the KVAC championship with a score of 249.5, wrapped up the Eastern Class B championship in first place with 239 and came up just short of the trifecta in the state Class B championships, finishing second to Mountain Valley of Rumford 141 (the Windjammers won all three postseason titles last year). This winter, Camden Hills had three grapplers secure individual state titles, five regional champions and one conference champ.

Medomak Valley, competing in Class B, finished the regular season with a record of 3-20. The Panthers finished 13th at the KVAC championships with 39, seventh in the Eastern Class B championships with 53 and 17th in the state Class B championships with 14.

Mount View, competing in Class B, finished the regular season with a record of 12-13. The Mustangs finished 17th in the KVAC championships with a score of 18, ninth in the Eastern Class B championships with 19 and in a three-way tie for last in the state Class B championships with no score.

The following are VillageSoup’s high school wrestling notables, listed in alphabetical order:

Abbott, a freshman, sported Mount View’s best record this season at 18-11 and was referred to by coach Richards as “one of our top wrestlers.” Abbot has a strong attitude and work ethic, which is evident by his fifth-place finish in the 119-pound Eastern B regional competition. Coupled with Flannery, the duo could well experience more success for the ‘Stangs the next three seasons.

Cassidy, a junior, wrestled out of the 130-pound weight class and had by far the best season of his high school career, capped off at the state Class B championship with his first individual state crown. Cassidy not only defeated Foxcroft Academy’s Jake Thurston 5-1 to win the state title, but also held the impressive distinction of leading the talented Windjammers in overall wins with a record of 41-10, with 17 pins. In addition to the state title, Cassidy also collected both regional and league crowns this season and was a KVAC second-team all-star. Coach Rollins said Cassidy is both a dedicated wrestler and a hard worker, adding “he got better and better as the season went on.” His career mark is 115-41, with 52 pins.

Chase, a junior, competed in the 215-pound weight class and performed well on the mats, bringing home a regional championship and runner-up honors in both the state and conference meets. Chase wrapped up the season with a record of 40-12, with 30 pins, and has a career mark of 81-47, with 58 pins, making him a likely candidate to join the ever-growing list of career 100-win Windjammer grapplers. Coach Rollins said Chase is a top-notch grappler from top to bottom, is naturally athletic and has a genuine love for the sport. Rollins hopes Chase can showcase that next season and make a return to the state Class B championship match.

Calan Bragg, a sophomore, wrestled out of the 125-pound weight class and finished the season with a record of 33-15, with 26 pins. He also has a career record of 67-32, with 44 pins, and finished second in both the regional and state competitions this season. Coach Rollins said Bragg is immensely talented and “when he’s on his game, he’s tough to beat.” Bragg was also a KVAC second-team all star.

Coleman Powers, a sophomore and competing out of the 119-pound weight class, had an injury-riddled season for the Windjammers after his breakout 51-win freshmen campaign, but still had a solid year with third-place finishes at the KVAC, regional and state competitions. Powers suffered a collarbone injury early in the season, but bounced back later in the campaign and finished the season 22-7, with nine pins. He has a career mark of 73-13, with 38 pins.

Drinkwater, a junior, wrestled out of the 103-pound weight class and had his strongest season to date for the Lions. Drinkwater finished with a record of 32-5 and looks to be on his way to the 100-win club next season, standing at a career mark of 83-32. The wiry Drinkwater earned himself both KVAC and regional crowns this season, while finishing as the state runner-up in the Class B championships. Drinkwater, who “practically killed himself” to stay in his weight class this season, said the coach, will likely compete at the 112-pound weight class next season. Drinkwater also was a KVAC first-team all star.

Fitzjurls, a junior, wrestled out of the 152-pound weight class and was the team’s most improved wrestler this season, according to coach Heroux. Fitzgurls finished with a 31-11 record and has a career mark of 82-39, likely to reach the 100-win plateau next season. Fitzgurls has moved up four weight classes since his freshman year, is the hardest worker in practice and also one of Belfast’s most steady performers. Fitzgurls finished fourth at the KVACs, second in the regionals and third in the states.

Flannery, a freshman, was one of Mount View’s most consistent mat athletes this season, sporting a record of 18-18 on the year. Flannery finished fourth in the 125-pound weight class at the Eastern Class B competition and, despite being a first-year wrestler, coach Richards said Flannery is “very scrappy, quick and never quits.” Flannery displays a lot of heart and determination on the mat, giving the Mustangs reason to feel optimistic over the next three seasons.

Halberg, a senior, competed out of the 285-pound weight class and finished with a record of 23-13, with seven pins. Coach Rollins said Halberg “got off to a slow start, but came on strong through the end of the year.” That statement became evident when Halberg secured the regional championship with a 6-4 win over Ellsworth’s Michael Garland. He also finished third at the state Class B competition. Rollins added that, despite his size, Halberg could well be the fastest wrestler on the team and “was a great presence on the team.” He also was named a member of the KVAC all-academic team.

Jacob Powers, a senior, is arguably the most talented grappler in the Midcoast and one of the best in the state and proved that by sporting an unbeaten record of 33-0, with 20 pins. He also ended his high school wrestling career with the state Class B title in the 160-pound weight class, pinning Maine Central Institute’s Britton Moholland at the 2:49-mark to win the crown for the second straight season. He also won both regional and conference titles this season. His state championship also qualified him for the New England High School Wrestling championships, where he finished with a 3-2 record. His career record for the ‘Jammers ended with an impressive mark of 144-27, with 68 pins. He also recently finished 4-2 in the national championships.

On the mat, the Windjammer captain is the total package. Blessed with quick feet, strength and the ability to overpower opponents at a moment’s notice, Powers also was named Class B wrestler of the meet at the KVAC championships and was named a KVAC first-team all star.

Kelley, a sophomore, grappled out of the 189-pound weight class and ended the year with a mark of 33-13 and is 54-37 for his career. Coach Heroux called Kelley “one of the toughest sophomores in the state” and added that Kelley was also competing throughout the season in one of the toughest weight classes with many more experienced athletes. A conservative wrestler who prefers to pick his spots rather than make mistakes, Kelley has a big heart, is a hard worker and likely will have a strong future for the Lions over the next two years. Kelley secured the regional title in his weight class and also was a third-place finisher in the KVACs.

Max Bragg, a senior, competed out of the 135-pound weight class this season and ended with a 38-13 record, with 21 pins. He also eclipsed the century mark for victories earlier this season, wrapping up his high school career with a record of 107-50, with 58 pins. A senior captain for the ‘Jammers, Bragg secured the regional title this season and also had a third-place finish at the KVACs. Coach Rollins added that Bragg is a “dedicated wrestler and worked hard all season long, but just had a bad day at the states.”

Nichols, a junior, proved to be Medomak Valley’s strongest all-around wrestler this season in the 130-pound weight class and finished with a record of 34-11, with 20 pins. Nichols earned a third-place finish at the state Class B championships, prevailing 12-4 over Brandon McDougal of Morse in the consolation finals. He also finished second in the regional competition before falling to Camden Hills’ Cassidy in the finals. He also took third place honors in the KVAC championships. Coach Bramhall added that Nichols is a great team leader, willing to push himself and “is a sponge when it comes to learning new things.”

Look, a sophomore, was another bright spot for Medomak Valley on the mat this season, ending the year with a 29-16 record, with 21 pins. He also had a fourth-place finish at the Eastern Class B championships. Coach Bramhall added, “The sky is the limit for Dylan, it’s all up to how hard he is willing to push himself.” With two years under his belt, Look could be a major player for the Panthers over the next two seasons.

Philbrook, a senior, wrestled out of the 145-pound weight class and was one of Belfast’s most natural talents, according to coach Heroux. While the veteran coach described Philbrook’s style as “unorthodox and all over the place,” he clinched both the conference and regional championships in his weight class before finishing fourth at the state Class B championships. Philbrook also wrestled the majority of the season with a pulled tricep muscle, but “gutted it out,” according to Heroux, given it was his final season. Philbrook was also a KVAC first-team all star.

Rich, a senior, wrestled out of the 152-pound weight class and capped his high school career in style, capturing the state Class B title. A KVAC second-team all star, Rich won by majority decision in the state finals 11-2 over Hermon’s Ryan Botting to clinch his first state title. He also finished second in both the regional and league competitions and ended his senior year with a 38-12 record, with 19 pins. Coach Rollins called Rich “a great mat wrestler” and added he was also one of the team’s better technical wrestlers.

Waterman, a sophomore, is the leader of the youth movement on the Belfast team this season, which is evident by his performances throughout the 2010-11 campaign. Not only did Waterman win his second state Class B title in two years, but also was named the most outstanding wrestler of the meet for his efforts. Waterman, wrestling out of the 125-pound weight class, pinned Mountain Valley’s Cody Magoon at the 4:43-mark to win the state crown.

Waterman is by far Belfast’s most polished, complete wrestler and also had a 2-2 record at the New Englands. He finished the season with a 38-4 record, has a 76-11 career mark and also won the regional and conference championships for his respective weight class. Waterman also is a KVAC first-team all star.

Winchenbach, a freshman, broke onto the scene this season in the 103-pound weight class and finished the year with a 29-18 record, with 18 pins. He finished second in both the KVAC and regional competitions, while also taking home third-place honors at the state meet. Coach Rollins said Winchenbach “learned a lot this year” and is a “dedicated, hard worker.” Winchenbach is a KVAC second-team all star.

Wood, a senior, finished his final season on top as he ran through the state Class B gauntlet and secured his second title in three years in the 171-pound weight class. A grappler who uses his raw strength to overwhelm opponents, Wood ended the season with a 35-6 record and ended his career with a mark of 122-29. Prior to winning the state title with a 2-1 decision over Mountain Valley’s Taylor Carey, Wood also secured both the regional and conference titles and had a pin victory in the New England High School wrestling championships.

Coach Heroux, who is also Wood’s grandfather, said Wood has one of the best fireman’s carries he has ever seen, which is the move that he used to secure the two points he needed to clinch the state title. Wood also a KVAC first-team all star.

Young, a senior, wrapped up his final season in style as he completed the championship trifecta at the conference regional and state levels. Young breezed through the KVAC championships in the 119-pound weight class, snatched up the regional championship with a first-place finish and then bested Ellsworth’s Brandon Gonclaves 5-3 to clinch his first state Class B title. Young, who had finished second in the state the previous three seasons, finished the campaign with a 37-5 record and ended his high school career with an impressive 132-34 mark.

Young does not possess overwhelming strength, but has a wealth of knowledge and experience that has made him such a strong grappler over the years. Added coach Heroux, “[Jordan is] one of the most clever wrestlers in the state.” Young is a KVAC first-team all star.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.