By Ernie Clark - Bangor Daily News - One offshoot of Jeremiah Barkac’s unbeaten four-year run through the Maine high school wrestling ranks has been the development of his Dexter teammates in the lower weight classes.
Barkac was one of four Tigers to win his weight class at Saturday’s state championship meet, three in the three lightest weight classes.
In addition to Barkac winning his fourth individual title, sophomore twins Mike (103 pounds) and Brian (119) O’Connor both followed up their Penobscot Valley Conference and Eastern Maine Class C crowns with state championships, while classmate Ronnie Harvey placed second in the state at 125.
Harvey’s brother, junior Josh Harvey, won the 152-pound state title.
"Jeremiah helps out a lot with the the lower weight classes," said Dexter coach Adam Gudroe. "He helps out not only by being aggressive with them in practice, but he makes sure they’re doing the right things, and helps them out when they’re doing something wrong."
Barkac has worked particularly close with Brian O’Connor, whom he calls his project, but has been a source of support for both twins from Garland.
"I think they’re a lot different," said Barkac of the O’Connors’ wrestling styles. "Mike’s not as aggressive but he has really good technique. Brian just reminds me of me. He’s just really aggressive and he has awesome technique. He works out with me all the time, and I try to help him."
While Mike O’Connor — the older of the twins by about three hours — won his state title in decisive fashion, with a 10-1 major decision over Beau Gagnon of Penobscot Valley of Howland in the final, Brian had a much more challenging time securing his championship.
He led Hall-Dale’s Zach Vickers 9-4 late in their match, only to have Vickers rally to tie the match at 8-8 with about 20 seconds left in the third period before O’Connor prevailed seconds later with an escape and a takedown good for an 11-8 victory.
"When he was down I said, ‘Brian, let’s go,’" Barkac said, "and he looked at me and then he did a switch in like five seconds."
The O’Connors are appreciative of the help they’ve received from their more decorated teammate.
"He taught me a really lot about everything," said Brian, "about how to get out of stuff and to be a better wrestler. He inspired me."
The 15-year-old brothers also have inspired each other.
While Mike sat out his freshman year of wrestling after coming up through the middle school ranks with his brother, Brian O’Connor won the 103-pound Eastern C championship last year and placed second at the states. But when Mike rejoined the program this fall, Brian was there to help.
"We support each other," Brian said. "We wrestle each other in practice and learn each other’s moves."
Of course, there’s the inevitable spirit of sibling rivalry, too.
"We just like to do better than each other and then brag about it," Mike said.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|