Spaulding’s Matthew Durgin controls Essex’s Scott Mathieu during a 182-pound wrestling match in Barre.

For the past five decades, Spaulding wrestling has made a name for itself as a state and regional power.

This past weekend, the Crimson Tide took things a step farther with a trip to national championships.

Sixteen Spaulding wrestlers made the 12-hour trek from Barre to the Virginia Beach Convention Center to compete at the 30th annual event. Results were mixed for the area standouts as they battled top opponents from every region in the country. Freshmen Ryan Glassford (132 pounds) and Colton Perkins (285 pounds) earned victories along with sophomore teammate Matt Durgin (195 pounds) and senior Hunter Quero (160 pounds). Glassford defeated an Alabama foe and suffered close losses against the New Hampshire champion and a sectional place-winner from Pennsylvania. During both defeats, Glassford built an early lead before his opponent rallied.

Perkins took down a New Jersey contender and fell short against heavy hitters from Georgia and Florida. Durgin triumphed against a Georgia competitor and endured losses against Virginia and Maryland opponents.

Quero pinned New York’s Section 9 runner-up. He also faced off against Florida’s No. 2 wrestler and a top-8 opponent from California.

In addition to spending two days wrestling, the Tide contingent attended clinics, met world champion Kyle Dake and enjoyed down time in 70-degree weather. Athletes, parent volunteers and coaches rented a beach house next to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. According to Spaulding wrestling coach Darren O’Meara, the costs were surprisingly reasonable during an off-peak time for beach-goers. Financial support from the community was also an essential part of carrying out the travel plans.

“Generous donors, and alumni, really make this trip possible for our athletes and we can’t thank them enough,” O’Meara said.

The Tide coaching staff will attempt to make the trip an annual tradition for Spaulding students and other Central Vermont athletes. This year, St. Johnsbury’s Hunter Verge joined the Barre bunch after he capped a 45-0 state championships season at 120 pounds. A junior high competitor from Randolph also tagged along, joining parent volunteers Craig Chase, Rick Quero, Heidi Glassford and Erika and Shellie Bailey.

Verge, who is a three-time Vermont champ, wound up going 3-2. Mount Mansfield senior Colby Giroux competes at the club level with Spaulding’s athletes and also recorded a successful weekend, going 4-2 at 170 pounds.

“The national tournament is obviously very competitive and the brackets are huge,” O’Meara said. “Some of our guys had to win their first match just to get into the round of 128. The experience is great, though, and our guys get to see what the highest-level athletes are doing in preparation for their matches, as well how they compete. Many college coaches were there recruiting, and our guys got to meet some legends of the sport.

“This is a great cultural experience for the athletes too. They got to meet people from all over the country. For at least one of our athletes, this was the first time he had ever been to the ocean.”

The majority of Spaulding’s wrestlers are still underclassmen, giving O’Meara lots of optimism for next year following a third-place finish at state championships this winter. Nick Pierce (106 pounds) placed second for the Tide at states. Teammates Carter Dickinson (113 pounds), Hunter Chase (138 pounds), Hunter Quero (152 pounds) and Perkins (285 pounds) placed third. Durgin (182 pounds) finished fourth at states, while Hunter Roya (120 pounds), Glassford (132 pounds) and Landon Farnham (160 pounds) wound up sixth.

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