Wrestling arch-rivals CR, Smyrna set to battle

SMYRNA — A big step to settling the Henlopen Conference Northern Division wrestling regular season title happens tonight in Smyrna.

And two long-time adversaries get to renew their rivalry.

Kurt Howelll 2015 by .

Kurt Howell

Smyrna High hosts Caesar Rodney High at 6 p.m. in a matchup of two teams who are undefeated in the Henlopen North. The Eagles and Riders both enter 3-0 in the North, in a three-way tie with Sussex Central for first place.

The two squads have combined to win the last five Division I dual meet championships, and for three years in a row (2012, 2013, 2014) Smyrna and CR also met in the championship match.

The hype for this contest is more pronounced than last season, when the Riders lost four times against Henlopen North opposition, including a 52-15 defeat to Smyrna.

Matches like these are something Smyrna coach Kurt Howell always looks forward to.

07dsn CR vs Polytech Wrestling 005 by .

Dan Rigby

“The Caesar Rodney matches are always big ones with matching up,” Howell said. “Two years ago we had about 1,700 people in our gym. Three years ago we were over there and it was standing room only. You can’t top the atmosphere of that type of dual meet.”

Smyrna, the three-time defending dual meet state champion, hasn’t lost to a Delaware opponent since the state title match in 2012. That was a 32-24 defeat to the Riders.

Caesar Rodney is also the last Delaware team to beat the Eagles in the regular season, 37-20 in 2012.

Since then, though, it’s been all Smyrna in the rivalry. The Eagles have won the last five meetings between the two, although Caesar Rodney leads the all-time series 36-22.

Smyrna has only lost five matches against Henlopen North teams since 2010, three of which have come against the Riders.

The Eagles enter tonight with an 8-2 overall record, both losses coming to out-of-state teams at the Virginia Duals. Smyrna holds victories over Dover, Sussex Tech and Polytech in Henlopen North competition.

Caesar Rodney’s lone defeat this year was a 39-35 decision to Milford, the defending Division II state champion. Like Smyrna, the Riders recorded wins over Sussex Tech and Polytech in the Henlopen North along with a victory against Cape Henlopen.

“We’ve demonstrated that we’re a blue-collar type of team,” said CR coach Dan Rigby after the win against Polytech. “I think that’s what this team is developing into.”

Caesar Rodney made the trip to Smyrna a week and a half ago for the Eagle Classic Invitational. The two teams finished first and second, with Smyrna winning the meet with 228.5 points compared to CR’s 176.

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