Area grapplers all fired up for Beast of East tournament

Chase Archangelo SMY wrestling by .

Smyrna’s Chase Archangelo, above, and many other Downstate wrestlers hope to perform strongly at the Beast of the East. (Delaware State News file photo)

On the wall of Chase Archangelo’s bedroom is a poster from the Beast of the East.

Like many high school wrestlers from Delaware, Archangelo dreams of placing at the prestigious tournament.

He’d love to win, but he’d also really like it if he finished eighth. Just to be on that podium is an honor.

“I’ve been visualizing trying to get on that podium whether it’s first, sixth or eighth,” said Archangelo, a Smyrna High junior. “No matter what, I’m going to do my best to get on that podium.”

Some of the best wrestlers in the country will descend on Delaware this weekend at the Beast of the East tournament, hosted at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center in Newark. The two-day event begins at 8:30 a.m. today. The finals are scheduled for 3:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Seven teams from the Henlopen Conference will be competing, including Smyrna — last year’s Governor’s Cup winner as the top Delaware team in the tournament. The Eagles are sending 12 wrestlers.

“It’s a chance for us to show who we are,” said Smyrna sophomore 182-pounder Tony Wuest.

Sussex Central is the only local team with a full squad of 14 wrestlers at the meet. Milford also has 12, Caesar Rodney has nine and Cape Henlopen is sending seven. The final two teams from the Henlopen Conference entered are Sussex Tech with six wrestlers and Indian River with five.

Last year’s Beast was not the best showing for Delaware teams. For the first time in the event’s 22-year history, no Delaware wrestler placed.

That’s something all teams want to change this year.

Delaware hasn’t had an individual winner of a weight class at the Beast since Smyrna’s Brent Fleetwood in 2012 won the 113-pound bracket as a junior. Fleetwood also finished as a runner-up in 2013 at 120 pounds in his senior season.

“Hopefully we can get on the podium and get Delaware on the map,” Archangelo (138 pounds) said. “Last year we were empty-handed. Smyrna had the Governor’s Cup but we want to be on the podiums, not just the Cup. We need to get All-Americans out there and we haven’t had an All-American since Brent. I think it’s time for us to do that again.”

Win or lose, there’s still valuable experience to be gained from these types of tournaments, says Smyrna coach Kurt Howell.

“Some of these guys don’t get the chance for exposure like that at national tournaments,” Howell said. “They don’t go to Fargo or the Northeast Regionals in the summer. I hope they’re real excited for this because it’s one of the only chances they get to see what they can do against some of the top guys in the country. It’d be interesting for our team to see if we can score some points there and maybe place.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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