Sussex Central High School varsity wresting coach Phil Shultie earned his 400th career dual-meet victory Jan. 15. Shultie reached the milestone when the Golden Knights defeated Dover 47-24 and Woodbridge 58-12 in a tri-meet at Dover High School.
Shultie has been Sussex Central’s varsity wresting coach since 1976 and holds the state record for most dual-meet victories. He led Sussex Central to the state Division I dual-meet championship in 2008. The Golden Knights were also state finalists in 1995, 1999 and 2010. Overall, 24 of Shultie’s wrestlers have won individual state championships in their weight classes. That group amassed a total of 34 state titles, with seven wrestlers winning multiple championships.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Shultie said of his 400th victory. “If you coach long enough, you’re bound to win some matches.”
Shultie replaced the retiring Herm Bastianelli as Sussex Central’s head coach for the 1976-1977 season. Bastianelli had been coach since the school’s formation in 1969. Shultie was a varsity wrestler under Bastianelli, earning a third-place finish in the 107-pound weight class at the 1971 individual state championship meet. Although he was initially reluctant to replace a local legend, Shultie took the head coaching job and soon began racking up dual-meet victories at a record pace.
Shultie reached 300 career wins in 2006 and during the next few years became Delaware’s all-time leader in dual-meet victories.
“It’s really an honor, but it’s an honor that goes to a lot of different people,” said Shultie, who gave credit to his wrestlers and assistant coaches. “We have kids who believe in the program and buy into the program.”
Shultie was quick to praise longtime assistant coach Chip Illian, who has been on Sussex Central’s coaching staff for 25 years. Illian was a varsity wrestler when Shultie earned his 100th career win. Shultie also gave credit to the strong wrestling programs at the middle school level.
“I’m not one to showcase anything,” Shultie said, deflecting praise for his accomplishments. “It’s more for the kids and the past wrestlers.”