Powerful Eagles dominate Riders 59-16

Smyrna’s Hugo Harp is in control of CR’s Robert Meister before scoring a fall in 1:50 to win the 220-pound match. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — The Smyrna High wrestling team knows everyone is gunning to knock them off this year.

The defending Division I dual meet state champions welcome that pressure.

The Eagles won another dual meet Friday night, downing rival Caesar Rodney High 59-16 in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest. Smyrna remained unbeaten against Delaware competition, improving to 4-0 in Henlopen North action and 9-2 overall.

“There’s a target on our back, but we welcome that target,” said Smyrna coach Aaron Harris. “We’d rather be the front-runner than chasing.”

“The difference is, sometimes when you’re the front-runner you relax, we don’t relax,” Harris added. “We keep pushing as hard as the people chasing us. That’s a testament to how hard we work.”

Caesar Rodney had won four dual meets in a row heading into the matchup. The Riders fell to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the Henlopen North.

Smyrna’s Tyler Downward scored a fall over Jacob Garrett to win the 195-pound match.

Friday’s dual meet featured the two most recent Division I state champions. Caesar Rodney upset the Eagles in the 2018 title match before the Eagles got their revenge a year ago, winning the championship rematch.

While Smyrna did lose that 2018 state tournament final to the Riders, the Eagles have not dropped a regular season contest to Caesar Rodney since Feb. 1, 2012.

Smyrna won 11 of the 14 bouts on Friday.

The Eagles got the maximum six points in six of those 11 victories. Nathan Lesniczak (160 pounds), Tyler Downward (195), Hugo Harp (220), Gabe Giampietro (106), Tyree Heath (126) and Amir Pierce (132) each recorded a pin while J.T. Davis (182) and Andrew DeBenedictis-Bayne (285) won via forfeit.

Joey Natarcola added another five points for the Eagles with a tech-fall at 145 pounds.

Jamar Wells (120) won via decision while Isaiah Jenkins (138) also earned a decision with a sudden victory in overtime. Harris said Jenkins was the most impressive match.

“I give a Wrestler of the Week award out each week and he’s mine this week,” Harris said. “He battled, sucked it up and got the two points in overtime.”

Brock Conner (182) led Caesar Rodney with a pin. Makenna Dolt won her match at 113 with a major-decision for the Riders while Jackson Dean was the other match winner for Caesar Rodney after a forfeit.

For Harris, it was the first time he coached at Caesar Rodney while wearing the red of Smyrna. The two times the teams met last year were both at Smyrna. Harris, a Caesar Rodney grad, has coached at his alma mater before though, while he was the head coach of Dover three years ago.

“I have something personal when I come here,” Harris said. “My boys know that. Their motivation is nothing else but to come in here and bang hard for their coach. So it feels good.”