Knights nip CR on tiebreaker to clinch 2nd place in North

CAMDEN — The Caesar Rodney High home crowd roared, both coaches walked to the scorers table and the Sussex Central High wrestlers started to discuss amongst themselves.

After the final match, the two teams were tied 31-31 in their dual meet, which would decide second place in the Henlopen Conference Northern Division.

The Golden Knights tried to figure out what was the first criteria for a tiebreaker.

“I was thinking it went to pins,” said junior Lucas Hudson. “Everyone was like, no, it goes to this or goes to that. Then we heard it goes to most matches won. I saw coach with a big smile on his face and I just lost it.”

Sussex Central won eight matches to Caesar Rodney’s six for the tiebreaker and a 32-31 Henlopen North win Wednesday night. The Golden Knights (5-1 North, 10-1 overall) also clinched the second seed for the Division I state dual meet tournament on Tuesday.

Central won six of the last eight matches to rally from a 22-7 deficit.

“I was dreading tomorrow’s practice the way things were looking,” said coach Phil Shultie. “But I think practice is going to be awesome now.”

The contest was tied 25-25 with three bouts remaining.

Hudson put the Golden Knights in front with a 6-2 decision at 170 pounds. Michael Wright followed with three more key points at 182 with a 9-3 decision.

It had Sussex Central leading 31-25, but with Mike Clavier coming onto the mat for the Riders. The senior 195-pounder recorded a third-period pinfall for the 31-31 tie and the Riders’ fourth pin of the night.

Still, the Golden Knights had locked up the first tiebreaker criteria before Clavier’s match had even started thanks to Hudson’s and Wright’s back-to-back wins.

“It’s a tough way to lose,” said CR coach Dan Rigby.

Caesar Rodney dominated the lightweights to pull out to its big lead, helped in part by Rashad Stratton’s absence from the Central lineup.

Mike Primo (106), Benedict Anderson (113) and Mason Harrington (126) all earned the full six points via pinfalls in their matches while 120-pounder Cam Hayes picked up a major decision.

Chase Mounts earned a dramatic victory at 138 with a reversal in the final seconds for a one-point decision. That gave the Riders a 25-11 advantage, but Central won the next five bouts.

“They had one of their studs out of the lineup and we still tied them,” Rigby said. “I think if the coin flip goes our way then the matches are different. But we’ve got to win the close ones and we just didn’t do a good job of that.”

Justin Bennett (145) started the Golden Knight comeback with a pin and Brandon Bautista followed with a tech-fall at 152. Blake Chambers was able to edge out a 1-0 decision which tied the match 25-25, leading to Hudson and Wright giving Central the decisive victories.

John Morris (220) and Drew Morris (132) had major decisions for the Golden Knights while Victor Cruz contributed another 1-0 decision at heavyweight.

Sussex Central closes its regular season with a 6 p.m. home match against William Penn before making its first appearance in the state tournament since 2013.

“My freshman year was the last time we were even in the tournament,” Bennett said. “Being a senior this year, it’s awesome. These guys work hard and they all earned it. To have that under our belts is a great accomplishment.”

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