Cape’s Caruso eyes second state championship

LEWES — Anthony Caruso is a three-time state finalist and one-time state champion.

This weekend, the senior Cape Henlopen High wrestler is looking to bookend his high school career with another individual state title on his home mat at the DIAA Individual state championships.

“This is his last hurrah,” said Cape coach Chris Mattioni. “He’s had a great career, he now holds our wins record and a bunch of other records, so he’s had a stellar career here.”

Caruso, the Vikings’ lone Henlopen Conference champion in the 132-pound weight class, is the No. 1 seed in the 132 bracket heading into this weekend’s tournament. He has accumulated a 41-3 record this season.

He won the state title at 106 as a freshman and was a runner-up as a sophomore (120) and junior (132).

“It’s an experience having the state tournament in your home gym, only a few kids get to do it and only a few kids get to win it in their home gym,” Caruso said. “Luckily I’ve been one of those, and I’m looking forward to doing it again.”

“Certainly, we’d love to see him coming back, but as I said he’s had a stellar career and hopefully we can send him out on top,” said Mattioni.

In total, Cape’s program has nine wrestlers in the state tournament.

Senior Chris Handlin (182) and junior Andre Currie (152) each nabbed No. 3 seeds after placing third and second place, respectively, at the conference championships.

Handlin lost by 10-5 decision to Dover High’s Sam Arkwuoille in the semifinal round at 182 before defeating Milford High’s Bevensky Augustin, by 14-8 decision, in the third-place match last Saturday.

“I had one match, in the semis, that didn’t go how I wanted but I’m going to learn from it and use it as motivation for the state tournament,” Handlin said. “Hopefully I’ll see the same kid in the semis for states, too.”

“Handlin, I think can make it to the semis, and then hopefully he can avenge a loss to the Dover boy, who he’s had a couple losses to,” said Mattioni.

Currie dropped an 8-5 decision to Caesar Rodney High’s Gabriel Degraffinreed in the 152 finals.

“I felt like I did pretty good, coming off a few injuries at the beginning of the year,” said Currie. “I had never wrestled the kid before, so I felt like I didn’t do too bad – I only lost by three – and I feel like I can do a lot better going into the state tournament.”

Currie, like Handlin, could have a shot at redemption against the wrestler he lost to in the conference championships.

“He’s sitting at the three-seed, so if all goes well he could see Degraffinreed in the semis, which I think is a winnable match,” Mattioni said. “I think he was a little tentative in that finals match over the weekend, sometimes you let that pressure get to you, plus he had never wrestled him. I think he’ll be much more prepared this go at it.”

Sophomore Jackson Handlin (160) is a five-seed; senior Eduardo Saez (220) earned a nine-seed; junior Finbar Rishko (138) and senior Billy Ott (195) each earned ten-seeds.

“I think it’s awesome that it’s going to be in our home gym again and we’ll have some fans here, so hopefully they’re riled up and hopefully we’ll have more than one finalist,” Mattioni said.

Senior Roy Jones (170) earned the No. 12 seed and freshman Mike Frederick (126) grabbed a No. 15 seed to round out Cape’s tournament participants.

Mattioni is happy to see a couple of underclassmen, freshman Frederick and sophomore Handlin, qualifying for states this season.

“I think it’s a great experience to get there,” Mattioni said. “Is it any different than any other tournament? No, except the added pressure of the name ‘state tournament.’ So I think if they can get there as young guys, they can see it and wrestle in it and be that much more confident the following year.”

While Frederick gets his first taste of the tourney, seniors Caruso, Ott, Jones, Saez and Chris Handlin hope to finish out on top.

“I know I’ve been a pretty big part of this team, and this team has been a pretty big part of my life too,” Caruso said. “It would just be the experience of a lifetime, finishing off senior year with a big bang.”

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