Belfast Area High School annually has one of the top high school wrestling programs in the state, as the Lions always are in the hunt for conference, regional and state championships.

With the 2012 Pine Tree Wrestling League championships now in the books, perhaps the school’s next state champion could be waiting in the wings.

Troy Howard Middle School eighth-grader Marlin Hansen won the PTWL state title March 31 at Bath Middle School after an impressive run that saw him pin Bath’s Spencer Wodatch in 10 seconds before pinning Mount Ararat’s John Stinson at the 1:57-mark to win the state 210-pound crown.

“It was really excited,” said the 14-year-old from Belfast. “I got second last year and I really wanted to get a state championship before I went on to high school.”

THMS Principal Kim Buckheit said Hansen is not just a leader on the wrestling mat, but in the classroom as well.

“Marlin is a quiet leader commanding respect from his peers and teachers,” she said. “He approaches his academic endeavors with the same passion and intensity as his athletic efforts. The quality of his schoolwork is always exceptional and teachers rely upon Marlin to set a high standard of success for all students in the classroom. He is kind to all of our school community, avoiding conflict while supporting those who are in need of help. He is what all student-athletes should strive to be.”

Hansen, who also won the regional crown in his weight class, used that intelligence to help advance to the finals of the state tournament and score a quick pin over his first opponent.

“I saw [Wodatch] wrestle somebody that I’ve wrestled all season [Oceanside’s Ian Goff] and I talked to [Goff] after and he told me his style of wrestling and I took a lot from that,” said Hansen.

While his second state match proved more challenging, Hansen eventually scored the pin and claimed the state crown.

“I was really excited,” Hansen said. “I didn’t even know what to think. It was one of the last matches so everyone was watching that last match and there were a lot of people there.”

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.