Viking matmen have work ahead of them

10 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Last season was an unexpectedly successful one for coach Chico Hernandez’s Viking wrestlers.
The team racked up quite a resume with a near flawless dual meet record, 10 All-Aroostook performers, eight Penobscot Valley Conference medalists, five regional medalists and one individual securing fourth place at the Class B state meet.

Matt Manter, who was the one who placed in the state championship, will be missed along with fellow graduates Rebecca King and Jake Bither and transfer Kyle Morris.

Hernandez said the year will start out challenging with many newcomers aboard, but he hopes that by the end of the year the Vikings will be a formidable team.
“I hope we can reproduce last year’s accomplishments, but that will be tough to do,” Hernandez said. “I think our schedule is a bit tougher and we have eight on the team who have either never wrestled before or have limited prior experience in the sport.”
Eric Simon, Axios Gerakaris and Dustin DeMerchant are the three seasoned veterans on the roster, but none are seniors. Still, all three have either placed in the PVC meet, the regionals or the state tournament.
Simon, a sophomore, made All-Aroostook last year and placed fourth in the PVC in his weight division and was also a state meet qualifier as an alternate. This season he is expected to be in either the 152 or 160 weight class.
“He has a long ways to go, but he is a tough kid with a very good attitude,” Hernandez said. “If he can mature some more as a wrestler, he should make a trip to the state tournament.”
Gerakaris, a co-captain, is a two-time All-Aroostook selection as a junior and his season was highlighted by a second-place finish at the Mid-Maine Tournament, a third at the PVHS Christmas Tournament and a fourth at both the PVC and regional championships. He will compete in either the 152 or 145 weight divisions.
“He is very aggressive and has picked up his focus and intensity from last year,” Hernandez said. “He has lots of energy and if he can stay focused through the six minutes of the match and continue to upgrade his abilities, he should get to the state medal stand in a very tough class.”
DeMerchant is another junior who serves as a co-captain. Like Gerakaris, DeMerchant is a two-time All-Aroostook choice who won his division at the PVHS Christmas Tournament last year. He was also an alternate for the state tourney and will wrestle in either the 195 or 182 weight classes.
Hernandez said DeMerchant has been diligent in the weight room in the off-season and played football for the Aroostook Huskies in the fall.
“He is learning a lot and wrestles a very methodical style,” said the coach. “He has the ability to deceive his opponents and lure them, and has the uncanny ability to pull victory from defeat. He should be a state medal contender.”
The team’s other wrestlers are Evan Michaud, Cory Jandreau, Jarred Jordan, Alton Pelletier, Noah Cousins and Brady Anderson.

“They are all learning very fast and have gotten a good taste of what high school wrestling is all about,” Hernandez said. “They are coming along and doing what I want them to do, but we have much learning left to do and have to work very hard in a tough sport.”
The coach said academic ineligibilities have curtailed the roster size compared to previous years, which means the team could give up between 18 and 24 points every dual meet due to forfeits.
He is being aided by Robert Jandreau, in his first year as a volunteer assistant. Manter, a student at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, will also help out from time to time, which he said will be a big boost in the development of the youthful Vikings.
Brooke DeMerchant will serve as the team’ manager.
Caribou sports the only wrestling team in Aroostook County and the closest road trips are to Lincoln (Mattanawcook Academy) and Howland (PVHS). Hernandez said PVHS, Maine Central Institute and Belfast will all be much improved, while Ellsworth is the defending PVC champion and is poised to win the state meet this season. Camden Hills, the three-time defending state champ in Class B, joins Dexter and Foxcroft Academy as other difficult opponents.
“It will not be easy, but we should win our share of dual meets and get some tournament medals as we have already done in the early going this year,” Hernandez said. “We don’t have any champions yet, but are in the process of making champions.”