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Fairmont Senior's Fortier wins freshman 145 title at High School Nationals

Apr. 12—FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior wrestler Maximus Fortier won the national title for freshmen at 145 pounds at the National High School Coaches Association High School Nationals wrestling tournament in Virginia Beach over the weekend.

After going undefeated in his bracket, Fortier pinned Reid Clausi of Fairfield, N.J. in the final.

"It feels pretty good," Fortier said about winning a national title. He also said the best part was "getting my hand raised at the end of the match."

Fortier went to the tournament with his father, Mike Fortier, the wrestling coach at Fairmont Senior. It was Mike Fortier's first time going to the tournament too, which held its 35th annual event this year.

Any wrestler may register for the tournament, but participating wrestlers are usually the more skilled and successful wrestlers across the country, Mike Fortier said.

Maximus' quarterfinal opponent Steel Meyers of Dallas, Texas. Mike Fortier said Meyers was a Texas state prep school champion and won Folkstyle Nationals in March.

"Pretty decorated wrestlers down there you're gonna come across," Mike Fortier said. "That's, I think, the neatest thing is going down there and see how you stack up against other kids across the nation who are... elite level wrestlers at that age."

Maximus opened the tournament with a technical fall. He defeated Braxten Crow of Sheridan, Wyo. 19-4.

Advancing to the round of 32, Maximus faced Dustin Kohn of Fredericksburg, Va. Maximus won by major decision, 12-0.

Maximus got his first pin of the tournament in the round of 16. Maximus pinned Brayden Kindt of Denver, Pa. for the quick victory, needing just 47 seconds.

Then came the quarterfinal match against Meyers. Maximus won by decision 9-2, but it wore him out for the semifinal. Facing Raymond Fitzgerald of Berwyn, Pa., Maximus won by decision 7-6 in the most challenging match of the tournament for him.

"That was a pretty close match," Maximus said. "I was kind of tired."

Coming between Maximus and a national title stood Clausi. Maximus led 8-2 five and a half minutes into the third period before pinning Clausi to go 6-0 in the tournament and win the 145 title.

"All my matches were pretty tough," Maximus said. "But [I] kept wrestling and found a way to win."

For Mike Fortier, it was another proud moment as a wrestling dad to see his son compete against other talented wrestlers across the country and hold his own.

Maximus didn't go alone as the only wrestler from Fairmont Senior at the High School Nationals. Sophomore Jason Walker, the state runner-up in AA 126 this year, competed in the sophomore 132 bracket, going 3-2 and finished a win shy of reaching All-American status.

Walker pinned Michael Fischer from Pinnacle, N.C. in the round of 128 at the end of the second period. In the round of 64, Walker then pinned Darien Francisquini of Ronkonkoma, N.Y. in just under two minutes. He then defeated Joshua Hale of Manchester, Md. by decision, winning 5-3.

Facing Gino Schinina of Wanaque, N.J. in the round of 16, Walker suffered his first loss by decision 5-3, sending him to the consolation bracket. Walker then fell to William Sakoutis of Holmdel, N.J. by decision, also a score of 5-3.

"[Walker] had a great tournament, really honestly," Mike Fortier said. "He lost a real close match in overtime. But man, he wrestled. He wrestled really well. I was super proud of him of how well he wrestled. There was a Jason I would like to have seen wrestle this whole season, but this weekend he really turned it up."

After the success of this year's tournament, Mike Fortier thinks Maximus and Walker will be back at next year's High School Nationals. Mike Fortier also thinks more Fairmont Senior and Marion County wrestlers could have success if they go to next year's tournament.

"There's a couple of kids that I know that could have probably done well down there," Mike Fortier said. "I think [freshman] Haydyn Spitznogle could have gone down there and done well, as well as some other Marion County wrestlers that could have gone down there and done really well if they wanted to."

For now, it's more offseason tournaments for the national champion from Marion County. Mike Fortier said the next big tournament is a national freestyle-Greco tournament in Fargo, N.D., a different style from the folkstyle of the High school Nationals.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548.