Eagles, Riders advance combined 14 wrestlers to DIAA semifinals

Michael Primo of CR pinned Jon Knight of Indian River in the 126-pound quarterfinal. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

LEWES — Leading up to Friday’s DIAA individual state championships, Caesar Rodney High coach Dan Rigby wanted to be sure his wrestlers were relaxed and enjoying the moment.

“I think a lot of our guys just do really well when there’s no pressure,” Rigby said. “This week we’ve kind of been relaxed and we told them they have nothing to lose, let’s just go get it. Go out there and leave it all on the mat.”

The Riders brought eight wrestlers to the state tournament, with six of those eight making it through to today’s semifinal round.

“We kind of tried to take a little bit of the pressure off and had them enjoy the moment a little bit,” Rigby said. “That’s what we told the guys to do, go out and enjoy the moment, take it all in, you don’t know if you’ll get here again. I think that’s what they did, and it worked out well for us.”

Michael Primo (126-pound weight class), Patrick Wisniewski (132), Jackson Dean (145), Gabe Degraffinreed (152), Riley Tracy (160) and Kevin Hudson (285) each won a pair of matches for CR Friday night to earn spots in the semifinals.

Smyrna’s Jaxon Al-Chokhachy scored a 5-1 decision over Owen Klinger of Salesianum in the state quarterfinal 126-pound match.

In total, 35 wrestlers from the Henlopen Conference earned spots in the semifinal round.

The semifinals will begin at 11:30 a.m. today at Cape Henlopen High. The finals are set for approximately 7 p.m.

“We brought eight guys and we put six through to the semis, which is really good for us,” said Rigby. “We have two guys who had tough quarterfinal matches and just couldn’t find their way through. Hopefully we can try to get them back on the podium tomorrow.”

“It just feels amazing when you look over and you see your whole team in the corner cheering and yelling for you,” Degraffinreed said. “It just gives you a whole new sense of energy and just makes you go even harder.”

Smyrna High, the Division I dual meet champion with a 35-33 win over the Riders a few weeks ago, sent eight wrestlers to the semifinals.

Gabe Giampietro (106), Joey Natarcola (120), Jaxson Al-Chokhachy (126), Amir Pierce (132), Nick Natarcola (138), Bryce Mullen (145), J.T. Davis (182) and Masen Wilson (195) all earned spots in the semifinal round for the Eagles.

Milford’s Jack Thode trying for back points on Ian Staubach of Indian River in the 113-pound quarterfinal match.

The freshman Giampietro, the top seed in the 106 bracket with a 41-2 record, earned wins by pin and 15-0 technical fall.

Top-seeded Nick Natarcola and Wilson both registered pins in the quarterfinals.

Top-seeded Davis earned a pair of wins, by pin and technical fall, over the No. 16 and No. 8 seeds to grab his spot in the semis.
Milford High, the Division II dual meet champions, put five wrestlers through to the semifinals.

Corey Messick (106), Jack Thode (113), Gaij Copes (160), Bevensky Augustin (182) and Anthony Diaz (220) each have a shot at an individual title for the Bucs.

Cape Henlopen High has four wrestlers in the semis, while Dover High has three and Sussex Central, Sussex Tech and Lake Forest each have two.

The CR junior Wisniewski, seeded seventh in the 132 bracket, pulled off an upset over the second-seeded Carl Willem of Middletown in his quarterfinal bout.

Trailing 5-3 with under five seconds to go in the quarterfinal match, Wisniewski executed a last-second takedown to tie the score 5-5 and send his match to overtime. He went on to pick up the 7-5 sudden victory decision.

Corey Messick of Milford won by decision 3-0 over Matthew Meadows of St. George’s in the 106-pound quarterfinal match.

“That was huge for him,” said Rigby. “He’s just a work horse, that’s just what he does in the room all the time, he’s a grinder and he always finds a way to put himself in those situations to hopefully win at the end. That was an upset for us, but in our minds, it really wasn’t an upset. Patrick can wrestle with anybody.”

“Wiz is that tough kid who just pushes everyone in the practice room, he doesn’t want to be outworked, he’s stingy,” Degraffinreed said of his teammate. “I knew he was going to come out on top.”

Degraffinreed, seeded second in the 152 bracket, matched up with 15-seeded Logan Kosky from Smyrna in the first round and 10-seeded Dontae Ferrara of St. George’s Tech in the quarterfinal round.

He used an 11-1 major decision and a 13-1 major decision to cement his spot in the semis.

“My approach, I just wanted to keep on scoring, score as many points as possible and go into every period thinking it’s 0-0,” Degraffinreed said. “I plan to keep doing that throughout the rest of the tournament.”

Top-seeded Hudson capped the night for CR in the 285 bracket, winning his quarterfinal bout by second period pin over Hodgson Vo-Tech’s Alex Jardon.

“Coach basically said go out there and take it to him, get the takedown in the first period. He doesn’t want any sudden victory wins, so I pushed the pace and that’s what I did,” said Hudson. “We practice hard in the wrestling room and it shows out here. We do what we have to do.”

“I’m really proud of the way our guys competed, we had a lot of close wins late in the match and this is kind of what we’ve been waiting for all year,” said Rigby. “It’s the first time we kind of put it altogether as a team, but better late than never.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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