The pressure of the huge moment focused on the biggest wrestlers in the lineup. The heavyweight matchup saw Cape’s Thomas Ott, the 220-pound defending state champion, bump up to wrestle defending heavyweight state champion Zach Parker of Caesar Rodney.
Parker is no joke, a 247-pound athletic and strong kid who did a cartwheel in warm-ups. The team score was Cape 29-7 entering the 10th bout of the match. An Ott win would ice the first dual-meet victory by a Cape team over Caesar Rodney since the 1990 season.
Ott was trailing Parker 3-2 in the waning seconds of the third period but set up and shot a takedown with 10 seconds remaining and held on for a 4-3 win, giving Cape a 32-7 lead with four matches remaining. The hotly contested match was iced early. The Riders closed to 32-29 but ran out of weight classes.
“I was confident I would get my shot,” Ott said. “I wasn’t planning on being behind, but I watched a lot of crazy matches before mine.”
The storyline had more heroes than Subway at dinnertime in the first 10 bouts. Vinnie Diego at 132 lost an 8-4 decision for three team points to Tommy Gallucci, and his brother Nick Diego lost a major 11-2 for four team points at 145 to Tony Scarfo, the defending state champion. That was just seven total points yielded by the Diego brothers - Go, Diegos, Go! - which meant the Riders left five bonus points on the mat.
“That was as big as anything," said coach Chris Mattioni. “I can’t remember a match during my coaching career with so many dramatic moments all falling our way.”
Cape got third-period pins from Austin Smith at 160 over Kendall Wicks and Aaron Mattioni at 195 over Craig Logan.
J.J. Currie, 152, won a major decision over Seth Mogle 18-7, and Justin Lopez scored a major over Seth Brosius 12-4.
"There is senior leadership on this team,” Lopez said. “There have been lots of sports moments during my career at Cape, but being on the team that beat CR in wrestling for the first time in 23 years - I will always remember that.”
Agonizing last-second wins were pulled out by Andre Flowers at 182 over Michael Clavier 9-8 in double overtime, and Nick Carroll, who scored a 6-3 win over Troy McNally, who was banged with three penalty points for locking hands twice in the final 25 seconds of the match.
“He was inexperienced, but strong. I just didn’t want to make a mistake against him,” Carroll said.
Almost lost in the afterglow was a 3-0 win at 138 by Elliot Young over Danny Ortiz.
“Wrestling is my second sport after soccer, so I’m so happy that our entire team came through for this win,” said Young.