A double-decker wrestling crowd arrived early Jan. 17 at Smyrna. Even those with handicapped placards had to park a scooter store away from the fray.
The match between six-time state champion Smyrna and a Cape team that had beaten Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central started at 145 pounds and rolled quickly into Cape's wheelhouse of the upper weights. Everyone in the gym knew Cape needed a big lead after seven matches when the lightweights of Smyrna would go on a counter assault.
Cape led 24-6 after Nick Carroll lost a decision on an overtime takedown to Tyler Carter, a six-point swing. The Eagles would win out over the next six matches, scoring two majors, three tech falls and a decision for a comeback to the 32-24 victory.
“We came in here knowing it would be close and knowing what we had to do and didn't get it done so right now I feel mad,” coach Chris Mattinoni said after the match. 'We left points out there by not picking up bonus points in the upper weights. You have to keep attacking if you want to beat a team as good as Smyrna.”
The first match at 145 saw Cape's Nick Diego, on the verge of a major decision loss, reverse and roll Kalen Wilson to his back as the seconds elapsed. Wilson looked flat to the mat gone, but the slip-sliding ref would punch his ticket.
“I thought I had him,” Diego said with a smile a day later.
That “mat no slap” swung the match in retrospect, but that night there were 13 wrestlers still to determine the outcome.
"Our young kids fought hard and didn't give in and weren't overcome by the crowd; that is a real positive,” Mattioni said.
Justin Lopez, 170, and Thomas Ott, 220, recored the only pins in the match.
Cape traveled to wrestle the St. Georges Hawks, the defending Division II state champions, Jan. 18. Amazingly it came down to Cape trailing 29-27 going into the final bout at 145 where Nick Diego got his pin to secure a 33-29 team win.
Results of the Cape/Smyrna match are as follows: 145: Kalen Wilson, S, dec. Nick Diego 7-11; 152: Jevon Currie, CH, dec. Elijah Hutchinson 4-3; 160: Austin Smith, CH, dec. Josh Hutchinson 6-2; 170: Justin Lopez, CH, pin Jake Kaiser 4:52; 182: Andre Flowers, CH, dec. Ronald Wuest 7-4; 195: Aaron Mattioni, CH, dec. Marquelle Bennett 5-2; 220: Tom Ott, CH, pin Jerren Carter 1:01; 285: Tyler Carter, S, dec. Nick Carroll 5-3; 106: Chase Archangelo, S, maj. dec. Emerson Fajardo 9-0; 113: Nate Bryant, S, tech. Justin Wright 4:09; 120: Nolan Henderson, S, maj. dec. Eriq Gloria 10-2; 126: Othniel Edmond, S, tech. Dante Jacquet 5:15; 132: Brent Fleetwood, S, tech. Vinnie Diego 4:12; 138: Tyler Carney, S, dec. Elliot Young 7-2.