Cape wrestling beats Smyrna for first time in school history

Jackson Handlin wins deciding match at 160
January 9, 2019

Cape hadn’t beaten Smyrna in wrestling in the 50-year history of the school district. That ended in the Big House Jan. 9, with a dramatic come-from-behind 34-33 win by the Vikings, featuring Andre Currie and Jackson Handlin as heroes.  

Civil law stipulates that every dog gets a free bite because there may be an occasion where a peace-loving dog is provoked and some joker deserves to get nipped.

But humans get no free bite waiver and no day in court, and if you’re a wrestler on the bottom trailing 2-0 with three bouts remaining and your team ahead 30-27, a bite will cost you six points on the disqualification, and your team will lose three points on a flagrant misconduct deduction.

It all happened to Juan Lares at 145 pounds, as Cape went to the south side of the scoreboard against Smyrna and trailed 33-27 with bouts remaining at 152 and 160.

“Referee [Eric] Buckson called me over, then showed me the kid’s finger, and said he saw a bite mark,” said Cape coach Chris Mattioni. “And the next I knew Smyrna got six points and we lost three. Juan seemed as confused as anyone. The good news is it didn’t cost us the match.”  

But the weirdness set the stage for a wild finish after Andre Currie scored a major decision over Logan Kosky 16-8, earning four team points. The Vikings trailed 33-31 with only the 160-pound bout remaining.

Jackson Handlin was wrestling up a weight class and faced Gavin Sembly of Smyrna.  

“Jack has been our best wrestler the last three weeks. He’s cold-blooded and just takes what the match gives him,” Mattioni said.  

Jackson did what Jackson does, using the other guy’s power against him and throwing in legs. He emerged with a 5-2 decision, and the home crowd went bonkers.

“I was not looking for the moment, but I was ready for it,” Handlin said. “There are so many reasons we won. I just happened to be in the spotlight when it happened.”

The match started at 170. Cape got off to a 21-0 start on pins by Roy Jones at 170, Eduardo Saez at 182 and Billy Ott at 220. Chris Handlin won an 8-1 decision over Masen Wilson at 195.

Following forfeits by the Vikings at 106 and 113, Carson Kammerer won by decision at 120, Mikey Frederick was pinned at 126, Cape’s Anthony Caruso pinned his opponent at 132 and Finbar Rishko lost by pin at 138.

Then came the nine-point swing match at 145.

“Phone calls have been made to all former coaches and some athletes, and we can’t find a single person who remembers a Cape wrestling win over Smyrna,” Mattioni said.

Every dog has his day, coach.