Local wrestling notebook: Smyrna enters challenging portion of schedule

SMYRNA — The Smyrna High wrestling team bounced back this week after its first loss of the season last Wednesday.

The road ahead for the Eagles is certainly challenging however.

Smyrna’s next three dual meets are against a top team from Maryland and the two most recent Delaware state champions.

The Eagles start that stretch tonight with a trip to McDonogh, Md. for a 6:30 p.m. contest. The two teams have had each other on the schedule for more than 10 years.

Smyrna has won the last three matchups against McDonogh, dating back to Jan, 16, 2015 when the Eagles knocked off then nationally-ranked McDonogh — the first time Smyrna had ever beaten a nationally-ranked team. The 2017 dual meet was canceled due to weather.

After the trip to McDonogh, the Eagles have a pair of key Henlopen Conference North Division dual meets.

First up Smyrna renews its rivalry with Caesar Rodney High with a 6 p.m. contest at CR on Wednesday. The two teams met in the finals of last year’s Division I dual meet tournament with the Riders edging Smyrna in a bout that came down to the final match.

Smyrna did beat Caesar Rodney during the regular season in 2018 before the Riders reversed the result in the tournament.

After CR, the Eagles are off for a week before hosting another classic rival in Sussex Central on Jan. 30 (6:30 p.m.). That is a rematch of the 2017 championship round where the Golden Knights dethroned the four-time champion.

Smyrna is coming off a 59-12 win against Polytech last Wednesday after the Eagles suffered their first ever defeat to Cape Henlopen the prior week.

While the hard schedule is nothing new to a program like Smyrna, it is the first year the Eagles are coached by Aaron Harris, who came over to Smyrna from Dover after Kurt Howell retired.

“I like that they’re buying in to what I’m selling,” Harris said. “I’m not sure what they were used to but I’m sure it was something quite different. They’re really buying into me quickly. They’re showing me that they want to be champions.”

Milford on a roll

The Milford High wrestling team is off to a good start in its quest for a sixth-straight Division II state dual meet championship.

The Buccaneers sit atop the Henlopen South with a 4-0 record in the division. They are undefeated at 5-0 with the other win coming over defending Division I champion Caesar Rodney.

Milford has won its four Henlopen South dual meets with an average margin-of-victory of 63 points.

That includes wins over Indian River and Laurel. Milford lost to both those teams in the regular season a year ago before rebounding to beat Indian River in the semifinals and then Laurel in the finals of the state tournament.

Milford currently holds the longest winning-streak in the state at 16 matches which dates back to last season and includes three victories in the 2018 state tournament. The Buccaneers have not lost since Jan. 26, 2018 at Dover.

They still have Henlopen South matches at Lake Forest (Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.) and home against Woodbridge (Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m.) left on the schedule.

They also face off against three Division I teams in Sussex Central, Cape Henlopen and Dover, plus are entered in the Legacy Duals next Saturday at Hodgson.

Bonus points

• The lone dual meet on Saturday involving a downstate team is Lake Forest vs. Caravel. The match is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Lake Forest and could be key in determining seeding for the Division II state tournament.

• Dover is the only downstate team competing at the Green Knight Classic at Mount Pleasant on Saturday.

• Milford, Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central are each headed to the War on the Shore Tournament today and Saturday. It is hosted by Stephen Decatur in Maryland and involves some of the top programs from Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

• Cape Henlopen is entered in the Grapple at the Brook Invitational at Springbrook High in Maryland. The tournament takes place today and Saturday.

• Indian River and Woodbridge are both participating in the Franklin Invitational, hosted by Franklin High in Maryland this weekend.

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