Eagles soar to 4th straight Division I state dual-meet wrestling crown

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The Smyrna Eagles celebrate their fourth straight state dual-meet championship Tuesday night in their home gym. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers

SMYRNA — Those handful of close matches from the regular season are a distant memory.

Smyrna High left no doubt who the top team in Division I wrestling is this year.

The top-seeded Eagles delivered a resounding performance in front of their home crowd for a 50-15 victory over second-seed Sussex Central in the final round of the Division I dual-meet state tournament on Tuesday night for Smyrna’s fourth straight wrestling state championship.

The 35-point margin of victory is the largest in the Division I title match since 2008 and the third highest of all-time behind Sussex Central in 2008 (55-12) and Caesar Rodney in 2005 (52-10).

This state title is the ninth all-time for the Eagles’ wrestling program, which includes five from Division II. It comes four days after Smyrna needed pins in the final two matches to rally from a six-point deficit against Cape Henlopen in the regular-season finale.

The Eagles also had minor scares during the year against Polytech (31-24) and Milford (32-30), too. But they had no difficulties on Tuesday night, winning their semifinal match in a rematch with Cape Henlopen, the fourth seed, 43-16.

“I think this was the perfect way to end it,” said Smyrna coach Kurt Howell.

Smyrna hasn’t lost to a Delaware opponent since the state championship match in 2012 against Caesar Rodney.

The Eagles pulled off such a large margin of victory by scoring plenty of bonus points. Out of Smyrna’s 10 match wins in the final, they earned bonus points in all but one.
Smyrna recorded four pins, one tech fall, three major decisions and won one bout via forfeit.

“Bonus points are like a chain reaction,” said junior 132-pounder Chase Archangelo. “One pin just fires us up to get another.”

The Eagles clinched the title with three matches to spare thanks to sophomore Tony Wuest’s pin at 182 pounds.

“We prepared better for this,” Wuest said. “We didn’t prepare for those other matches (during the season) like we should have. This week we did. We just worked hard this week.”

“I think they recognized there was a little letdown last week,” Howell said.

Chris Begatto (113 pounds), Archangelo, Nate Bryant (138) and Wuest had the pins for the Eagles. They led wire-to-wire when Nick Natarcola started the match off with a tech fall at 106 pounds.

Smyrna won the first three matches and five of the first six. They led 27-4 after the first six contests.

“It was a momentum swing for us,” Archangelo said. “When kids are just winning and winning it makes us wrestle even better.

“It’s nice we started out at 106 because we knew we had advantages down low.”

Greg Baum (120), Kalen Wilson (160) and Hunter Moyer (195) provided the wins by major decision. Heavyweight Terren Carter won his match by forfeit while 220-pounder Jake Mitchell earned the lone Smyrna decision, 6-2.

Wilson, Mitchell and Carter were the only three seniors in the lineup on Tuesday night. Wilson has competed in the state dual final match every year of his high school career.

“This is the first class of seniors I can say, ‘Boy, you guys are spoiled,’” Howell said. “It will be fun to reminisce at our banquet.”

Sussex Central made the final by defeating No. 3 seed Caesar Rodney, 36-32, in the semifinals, a week after the Golden Knights edged the Riders on a tiebreaker 32-31 in a dual meet.

Cape Henlopen downed No. 5 seed Polytech 33-25 by winning the final two matches and CR beat Wilmington Charter, the sixth seed, 38-29 in the first round to set up an all-Henlopen North semifinal and guarantee an all-Henlopen North championship round.

Over the course of the semifinals and finals, Smyrna dropped just eight total matches of a possible 28, and didn’t surrender any pins.

“It was a really nice showing tonight,” Howell said. “I was really impressed we won all the matches we should have won and even pulled out a couple of close ones that we shouldn’t have.”

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