Nine Henlopen Conference wrestlers earn titles


Smyrna Coach Kurt Howell carries Josh Dailey of Smyrna after he defeated Michael Wright from Sussex Central 11-6 in the 182-pound class at the DIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament being held at Cape Henlopen High School near Lewes on Saturday, Feb. 24.
(Special to the Delaware State News / Chuck Snyder)

LEWES — Josh Dailey leaned against the light blue wall at the Cape Henlopen High gym and attempted to clean the sweat off his face.

The Smyrna High senior said he would be wiping away tears shortly.

Dailey was one of nine Henlopen Conference wrestlers to win an individual state championship at the DIAA state meet Saturday night. Dailey wrestled at Smyrna as a freshman, transferred to Caravel for his sophomore year then came back to Smyrna to finally capture that elusive state title.

“I need to cry but I haven’t done it yet,” said Dailey who earned the 182-pound championship via decision. “It’s surreal. I could never dream of this.”

Dailey was one of three champions from Smyrna — the most from any school. Dover, Caesar Rodney and Polytech had one winner apiece.

Seniors Cam Hayes from Caesar Rodney and Tony Wuest of Smyrna had the most historic results. They became the 31st and 32nd wrestlers in state history to win three state championships in their high school careers.

Hayes earned a decision in the 126-pound title match for his 45th win of the year. That set the Caesar Rodney school record for most victories in a single season, breaking Alex Meade’s mark of 44.

“I can’t even explain how excited I am right now,” Hayes said. “I would look up to Alex as a role model when I was little. Being up there with one of my role models is great.”

Polytech’s Avery Mayan (black) pinned Dover’s Divine Watkins in the 2nd period of the 160-pound class as the DIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament was held at Cape Henlopen High School near Lewes on Saturday Feb. 24.
(Special to the Delaware State News / Chuck Snyder)

Wuest pinned his way through the 195-pound bracket, just like he did last weekend at the Henlopen Conference meet a week ago. Wuest needed just 36 seconds to record a pin in the final round for the 108th pin of his career — a state record.

Wuest, who will wrestle at North Carolina State University next year, was awarded Most Outstanding Wrestler honors after the meet for the second time in his career.

“This is what I’ve been working for all four years of high school,” Wuest said. “I’m always nervous before every match. Things happen and sometimes people get caught. It’s my job to keep working and keep on top. The worst thing for me to do would be to change up my game and I haven’t done that yet.”

Hugo Harp of Dover provided the biggest upset of the tournament.

He was seeded seventh at 220 pounds but upset the No. 2 seed on Friday night. He won two more matches on Saturday, including a decision in the title bout for Dover’s second individual champion in as many years.

“The best week of wrestling I’ve ever had,” Harp said. “I’ve been wrestling for two years, this is the best thing to ever happen to me. I’m out of words. I did think it was possible, I had everything in my heart that said I could win with all my coaches behind me, the best coaches in the whole-wide world.”

After Harp’s victory, his coach Aaron Harris gave him a Dover High flag to carry on a victory lap around the mat.

“I don’t think everyone realizes who just did this,” Harris said. “This kid has come so far in life, not just wrestling. It’s a testament to dedication and hard work and us believing in him and making him believe in himself.”

Smyrna’s Greg Baum wrestled in the first match of the night and earned his second state championship. The 145-pounder lost in the finals last season but was able to come from behind after trailing 5-3 on Saturday for a decision.

“I just remember the feeling of last year and how it felt to come in second,” Baum said. “I didn’t want to have that feeling again. I just kept thinking about sophomore year when I won. I knew there was no way I would lose. I just didn’t want to lose in my last match.”

Avery Mayan of Polytech also won his final match with a pin. After finishing third the last two seasons, he captured the first state championship of his career at 160 pounds thanks to a second-round pinfall.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Mayan said. “I weathered the storm in the first round and was able to hit it in the second round.”

Milford’s Robbie Rosser (120 pounds) and Sussex Central’s Rashad Stratton (132 pounds) each repeated as state champions. Mason Ankrom gave Sussex Central its second title of the night with a decision victory at 106 pounds.

The nine champions from a single conference was one short of the meet record of 10, which was set by the Henlopen Conference each of the last five years.

Five wrestlers from upstate schools were champions.

Andrew Brooks of Sanford won the 152-pound bracket while Brian Schneider of Middletown was the 170-pound champion. Hunter Balback of Delaware Military Academy won at 285 pounds, Zach Spence from Salesianum was the 113-pound winner and Nick Novarnik of St. Georges rounded out the state champions with the 138-pound title.


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