Seven wrestlers from Maine placed among the top six in their weight class at this weekend's 48th annual New England High School Wrestling Championships in Providence, R.I.
Brent Waterman of Belfast went 4-0 to capture the 132-pound championship and junior Danny DelGallo of Gardiner went 3-1 to finish as runner-up in the 138-pound division.
Fourth-place finishers included previously unbeaten Connor Sheehan of Fryeburg Academy at 113 and Rhett Chase of Camden Hills at 220.
Freshman Cody Hughes of Marshwood finished fifth at 138 pounds. Sixth-place finishers included Jared Jensen of Brunswick at 152 and Josh Andrews of Massabesic at 220.
Timberlane High School of Plaistow, N.H., compiled 77 points to capture its sixth consecutive New England team championship. Daniel Hand High of Madison, Conn., followed with 68.5 points. Mount Anthony Union of Bennington, Vt., finished third with 67 points.
Belfast, with 27 points, finished in a tie for 21st place among the 130 schools that sent wrestlers to the six-state competition.
Ted Heroux’s introduction to competitive wrestling was unique.
“I was in college and my roommates were both two-time state champions in high school,” he said. “They put all the mattresses in the room together and told me, ‘You’re going to be a wrestler.’”
From that indoctrination Heroux grew to love the sport, and he has been teaching it to youngsters in his hometown of Belfast virtually ever since, leading Belfast Area High School to more than 600 victories and eight state championships over a 45-year coaching career.
It’s a resume that has earned Heroux induction into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The 69-year-old Heroux, a 1961 Belfast graduate who has been the head wrestling coach at his alma mater since 1967, was one of four coaches inducted last Saturday before the finals of the New England high school wrestling championships in Providence, R.I.
Also inducted were longtime East Hartford, Conn., coach Steve Konopka, longtime Massachusetts coach and referee Ted Neill, and former four-time Rhode Island state wrestling champion and coach Steve Soares.
“When they told me about it I said, ‘Really?’ That usually doesn’t happen until after you kick the bucket,” said Heroux. “But afterward when I realized they’ve had this hall of fame for 30 years and have only inducted 40 people, I realized what an honor it is. I was pretty happy after that.”
Heroux has guided the Belfast wrestling program to a 602-168-3 record, a career that has included not only eight Class B state championships but also six state runner-up finishes, 11 Eastern Maine Class B titles and 13 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.
Previously inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame, Heroux is a five-time KVAC coach of the year and a three-time Maine coach of the year honoree.
He has coached three New England champions — his grandson Kote Aldus, Dennis Sprague and Brent Waterman. Sprague won the 132-pound state title in 1972, Aldus the 160-pound crown in 2008 and Waterman the 132-pound championship this year.
Heroux also has coached 71 individual state champions from Belfast, including another grandson, Kornealius Wood, who won the 171-pound Class B title in both 2009 and 2011.
Heroux becomes the third Mainer named to the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining longtime former University of Southern Maine coach Ted Reese and former Winslow coach Wally LaFountain, one of the founders of the Maine-Nebraska Friendship Series.
Heroux said he plans to coach at Belfast for one more season before retiring.
“I’ve got a good group of seniors coming next year that I kind of promised their parents I’d see them through because I’ve been coaching them for about the last seven years,” he said.
“I’ve also got a great group of assistant coaches probably chomping at the bit to get their chance, and whoever does take over is going to be successful because we’ve got a great wrestling program here in Belfast all the way up through.”