Milford edges Indian River for fourth straight Division II wrestling crown

SMYRNA — Winning a dual-meet state title is a tough task. Repeating as state champion is an even more difficult task.

Tuesday night at Smyrna, the Milford Buccaneers’ wrestling squad clinched the school’s fourth consecutive DIAA Division II Dual-Meet State Championship, defeating No. 2 Indian River 34-30.

“Indian River is a really strong team. They came in prepared and were ready to knock us off,” Milford head coach Don Parsley said. “I think our experience in championship situations really paid dividends tonight because the guys were able to get the job done.”

Seeded No. 1 in the Division II tournament, the Bucs received a first-round bye before defeating Laurel in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship round.

Indian River, a two-loss team heading into the tournament, defeated St. Georges in the second round to earn a spot in the finals and a shot at dethroning the reigning champions.

Milford wrestlers hoisting coach Don Parsley into the air after winning the Division II championship. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Milford and Indian River traded leads early on before the Indians took control of the match. Four straight victories from freshman Ta’Jon Knight (120), sophomore Dylan Ely (126), senior Jessie O’Neal (132) and senior Jared Arlett (138) pushed IR ahead 30-15.

With just four matches remaining and a 15-point deficit, Milford wasn’t ready to hand over the championship belt just yet.

In the 145-pound match, Bucs’ senior Gavin Garcia brought the momentum back over to Milford with a win by 17-7 major decision.

Alex Creasey (152) pinned IR’s Michael Payan to bring the deficit to within five points.

In the 160-pound match, Bucs’ junior Khiry Hovington pulled away with a 7-5 decision.

Down 30-28 heading into the final match, senior Kaje Reynolds pinned Indian River senior Zion Howard in the 170-pound match to complete the comeback and clinch the title.

“All I know is I was going out there to wrestle, whether it was a pin or it was a major decision,” Reynolds said following the match. “I can’t ask for anything more than having a good team who fought well. We did what we had to do and put ourselves in good position to win it.”

“All business all the time is our team motto, and that’s something we like to live by,” said Milford junior Robbie Rosser. “So that’s we got the job done. Everybody did their job and that’s how you win as a team.”

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