Four-time dual meet champion Smyrna eyes new season

Kurt Howell

SMYRNA — For the first time this season, the Smyrna High wrestling team will have all of its weapons at its disposal tonight.

The four-time defending Division I state dual meet wrestling champions kick off the dual meet season with a 6 p.m. contest at St. Georges.

The Eagles were without a few of their wrestlers thanks to the long football season. Smyrna won its second consecutive Division I football state title on Dec. 3, meaning the athletes who compete in both sports had to miss the first two wrestling invitationals of the season.

But they have been practicing for about a week and are eligible to compete tonight.

“It’s nice to see those familiar faces,” said junior Tony Wuest.

Wuest, a 195-pounder, is one of three wrestlers with an individual state championship on the Smyrna roster. The others are junior Greg Baum (132), who has one, and senior Chase Archangelo (145), who has two.

All three won their respective bracket at last weekend’s Milford Invitational. The shorthanded Eagles finished behind team title winner Sussex Central High.

“We’re still evaluating right now,” said coach Kurt Howell. “I’m seeing guys doing in meets what they’re working on in practice so I’m happy about that. We certainly have areas of improvement. Hopefully I can get my kids in shape.”

Some football players who were starters in the Smyrna lineup last season that will return are Hunter Moyer and Larsen Wilson.

They join veterans Dakota Kerr, Cole Sebatianelli and Nate Bryant along with the three individual state champions as returning starters for the Eagles. Smyrna had four freshmen in the lineup at the Milford Invitational.

“We’re still building,” Archangelo said. “We have a lot of work to do. What we have to do is embrace the grind. The guys who it’s their first time on varsity got a great experience at Milford, now when the football guys come in, they can show what they can do.”

J.T. Davis had the best finish out of all the freshmen in Milford. He battled back from a first round loss to finish third. Freshman Andrew DeBenedictis placed fourth in the 220-pound bracket.

As usual, Smyrna has some freshmen expected to make an impact in the lower weights. Dylan Andruzzi (106) and Gavin Sembly (113) also participated in the Milford Invitational.

“The new kids are really shocking me,” Wuest said. “We have four freshmen who are doing outstanding.”

“By next week I think we’ll be pretty solid all the way through,” Baum said. “I think we’ll have another good team this year.”

Smryna has defeated St. Georges in the opening match each of the last three seasons. The Eagles have not lost a dual meet to a Delaware opponent since the 2012 state championship final round against Caesar Rodney.

While the football players will be on the roster in time for tonight’s dual meet, Howell has not decided yet if he will enter them in this weekend’s Beast of the East Tournament at the University of Delaware.

They could have wrestled at the Milford Invitational too, but Howell elected to let them have more practice time first.

“With one or two days of practice we didn’t put them in,” Howell said. “We’re trying to shape it up, I don’t know if I want to wrestle them in the Beast for their first event. But a couple of them really want to so we’ll make a decision. But they’ll definitely be ready for the first dual meet.”

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