Tournament title big moment for Senator wrestlers

DOVER — Everybody just assumed Milford High was going to win the team title.

Squads like Dover were only an afterthought for much of the Polytech Invitational wrestling tournament on Saturday.

Senator coach Aaron Harris remembers asking a couple other coaches how the standings looked.

“They said, ‘Oh, Milford’s running away with it,’” said Harris. “And I thought in my head, ‘We’re doing our thing. So it’s got to be close.’”

Sure enough, when the final scores were announced, Dover had won the team championship by just a single point (206-205) over the Buccaneers.

“It felt real good,” said Dover senior Anthony Fisher. “We were all jumping in the stands. This was our first team win.” (Delaware State News file photo)

The Senators celebrated when they heard the news.

“I wasn’t quite sure because we were so close to Milford,” said senior Anthony Fisher. “It felt real good. We were all jumping in the stands. This was our first team win.”

Capturing the season-opening Polytech tourney, which had a 13-team field, isn’t going to make the Senators’ season, of course.

But for a Dover program that’s struggled through some lean years, the Senators hope the accomplishment is a sign of better things to come.

It’s been a long time since Dover won a tournament team championship of any kind.

“It felt good,” said senior Nic Lee. “I’ve never won a (team) tournament since I’ve been here. Since Coach Harris has been here, we’ve been improving a lot. We finally won one.
“We’re not just Dover any more. We’re back.”

Fisher (138 pounds) and Lee (145) both won individual titles at Polytech.

Lee’s 13-5 major decision in the final was especially big because it came against Milford’s Alex Creasey.

At one point, Harris told Lee to let Creasey up so he could go for the major decision. That extra team point ended up making all the difference in the standings.

Dover senior Nic Lee, shown above in blue, won an individual title at 145 pounds in the Polytech tourney. (Delaware State News file photo)

“I think he tried to headlock me and then I just ended up on top,” Lee explained.

The Senators say they’re not surprised about getting off to a fast start.

Fisher and Lee were both Henlopen Conference champions a year ago. Fisher then made the 132-pound state semifinals with Lee reaching the finals at 138.

Dover also returns four other starters from last year’s 5-5 squad: Junior Tykwan Joyner (120), senior Taqee Williams (132), Divine Watkins (152) and sophomore Daimere Wilson-Turner (170).

At Polytech, the Senators placed someone in the top six of every weight class but one.

“Those guys know the value of hard work,” said Harris, who’s in his third year as the Senators’ coach. “They’ve been in the program for two years. And they’re able to pass that on to the kids that come in.

“I make it a point to make sure my guys don’t let anyone stand next to them that’s not working as hard as they are. They’ve got to jump on or jump off. It’s a tight ship around here.”

“Our work ethic’s changed a lot,” said Fisher. “It’s a whole different thing we’ve got going now. Everything is different.

“It (winning) is definitely an expectation now. I don’t see it as, ‘I hope we come out on top.’”

The Senators will find out quickly where they stand in the Henlopen Conference Northern Division. They open their North schedule with a match at Polytech on Dec. 22 before hosting four-time Division I state champion Smyrna on Jan. 4.

Dover is also taking part in the Beast of the East tournament at the Carpenter Center on Dec. 17-18.

In the end, the Senators hope their Polytech tourney title just ends up being one of many things they accomplish this winter.

“Not to take anything away from the team — we won the tournament,” said Harris. “(But) I thought we could have wrestled a lot better based on the work we’ve put in.

“Not trying to be overconfident, but our goal was to go in there and win. That’s what we talk about every day.”

“It opens their eyes,” Fisher said about other teams. “They see us coming now. They knew we were coming when Harris came here. They heard about us.

“Now they see that something’s growing here.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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