Cape junior Thomas Ott was one of 10 Henlopen Conference wrestlers to win a state title at the DIAA Individual State Championships, but he was the only one to do it in front of his home crowd in the jam-packed Cape High gym Feb. 23.
Ott earned his second straight state title in the 220-pound weight class with a pin of Salesianum's Tommy Wilmoth one minute into the second period. Ott pinned every opponent in his seven matches during the Henlopen Conference and state meets the past two weekends.
“I was less nervous this time,” Ott said. “The experience of being here once helped me do it the second time. Hearing the gym explode when you come out and they announce your name, it just makes you feel great and gives you that much more confidence.”
Coach Chris Mattioni said Ott is a much more technical wrestler this year, after working with Cape's 1999 state champion Matt Graviet. Ott also worked with Cape 2006 state champion Brian Riggin during Christmas break.
“I think the difference with him is night and day,” Mattioni said. “Last year, he was physical, but his technique wasn't nearly as good as it is now. In addition to being physical and strong, he's now added a level of technique, so he's kind of a complete wrestler now.”
Ott now has his sights set on next year's Beast of the East tournament - one of the largest high school wrestling tournaments in the country, which draws wrestlers from across the country. Ott was knocked out just before the placing rounds this season.
“I haven't placed there yet, so the goal is to place there, and the ultimate goal is to win it,” he said.
Eleven of the 14 top seeds won titles, including Milford's Alvontae Drummond, who finished his senior season undefeated at 138 pounds. Smyrna continued its statewide dominance by crowning five champions.
Cape's Justin Lopez had a good tournament, finishing with a third-place medal at 170. Austin Smith at 145 and Andre Flowers at 182 each finished fourth, and J.J. Currie placed sixth at 152 for the Vikings. The Cape team had a great season, and all five place winners are underclassmen.
“We were in some real close and tight battles and we came out on the short end of the stick more often than we came out on top,” Mattioni said. “Part of that is we just made some mistakes; part of that is we didn't get some calls to go our way. I'm proud of the way we wrestled overall.”
Mattioni said he was also proud of the performance of senior Sean Sheehan and junior Elliot Young, each of whom finished just out of the Top 5.
“It's really heart-wrenching for the young man and the coaches,” he said about Sheehan's run. “He's a senior; he came in and he was overweight and didn't have much tools to work with, but he really dedicated himself to the off season and got better and better. All of sudden he was in the varsity lineup and he won 20 matches this year. It's really unfortunate he couldn't get that win.”
Cape has hosted the event for the past two years and would love to host it again next year with its talented senior class.
“It's an amazing venue, and I think we have amazing people within the community that can allow us to pull this off,” Mattioni said. “We've got that network of people to make this happen. I just pull that all together and coordinate it. If it wasn't for all the people who support me, we wouldn't be able to pull this off.”
106 – Alebbo Monsanto, Smyrna
113 – Brent Fleetwood, Smyrna
120 – Micah Hight, Caesar Rodney
126 – Tyler Carney, Smyrna
132 – Tony Scarfo, Caesar Rodney
138 – Alvontae Drummond, Milford
145 – Daniel Downes, St. Mark's
152 – Dayquan Foreman, William Penn
160 – Jarren Wilson, Smyrna
170 – Zach Boyles, Smyrna
182 – Sam Lundin, Delaware Military Academy
195 – Bubba Mancini, Salesianum
220 – Thomas Ott, Cape Henlopen
285 – Zack Parker, Caesar Rodney