Davey Fred is the ultimate unifier of downstate wrestling

February 19, 2019

Reverse Unifier - Davey Fred, “The Inclusion Kid,” was all over the Henlopen Conference Championship Meet Feb. 15-16 at Sussex Central. He sat at an official table with Chip Illian and Phil Shultie for a while, and he was Chip’s wing man (towel man), going onto the mat to tap the ref in the back when the clock hit zero. Davey would sometimes tap the ref on the shoulder with his free hand and say, “Good job.” After one particular match won by brother Mikey, Davey towel tapped the official, then gave Mike a congratulatory hug. Mikey knows his own biographical journey, “This Boy’s Life,” includes his older brother merging into the frame at the same moment. During the Saturday money matches, athletes were wrestling for “place.” Davey was invited to the Polytech corner to sit with the Panthers’ coaches. Assistant coach Justin Land gave Davey his chair. Head coach James Demko said, “Sit right here next to me.” Then I gave coach Land my chair and suddenly, the musical chair rotation had Grandpa Davey standing with a heavy camera around his neck. Demko later commented on my Facebook post: “He [Davey] seems to be a ladies’ man. He quickly left his seat to sit on the floor between my two managers.” Earlier in the season during a dual meet at Polytech, Davey sat with the state champion Poly cheerleaders, complete with pom-poms. They just included him and kept smiling and cheering.

Speed racers - You can interview race car drivers all you want after they climb out of the driver’s side window, but take it from me, those guys are wired differently, and there is no schematic drawing that tells you how to harness restraint when racing at 200 mph. Three major crashes over the last 10 laps of the Daytona 500 had me screaming out loud, “These people are nuts!” I grew up in Penndel, Pa., a mile from the Langhorne Speedway, so trust me, I know the culture. And anyone who says “Race car drivers aren’t athletes” should go back to the golf course or pickleball courts. And maybe the sport is stupid, which is good; the smart people can stay home. The pursuit of mass appeal has ruined many a good idea; just ask the Punkin Chunkers.

Sad songs say so much - Hope and heartbreak run alongside magic moments of triumph inside a two-day championship wrestling meet. I have my own sad songs to sing in the car on my way home, but after a lifetime as a sports reporter, I know many of the sad songs of the athletes I cover. It’s all good, and sometimes in the best moments I realize what the athlete has overcome and who is not there to enjoy it with them or to console them. An athlete will steal your dream in pursuit of his own, and that is the battle we call competition. The handshake and hug afterward is what we call comradeship.  

Snippets - Zack Gelof (Cape) started his first game for the University of Virginia Feb. 15, leading off playing third base. The Hoos lost 15-9 to Vanderbilt in Arizona, but Zack went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored. By Saturday morning in Sussex County, you couldn’t tell that story to an interested person who didn’t already know it. The Bears of Ursinus College opened the men’s lacrosse season with a 13-9 win at Stevenson Feb. 16. Brooks Buck (Cape) and Tre Tillman (MOT Charter) are Delaware kids on the Ursinus roster. Korinne Lemaire (Cape) is a sophomore on the University of Lynchburg lacrosse team. K-Car appeared in 15 games as a freshman. She also plays field hockey. Randy Rickards has started 21 of 29 games for Baltimore City College basketball, averaging nine points per game, and has 153 rebounds on the season. The Panthers are 21-12. Randolph Macon is 23-2 on the season. Ian Robertson has played in 24 games, averaging six points a game. Ian has made 26 three-pointers. The Yellowjackets are ranked No. 5 in the country for Division III. Go to, then click events, then search events, then state (DE) and you will find the brackets for the DIAA Individual State Tournament. The tournament is Friday and Saturday at Cape. Welcome to my house and, more importantly, Davey’s House, comprende, DIAA? Go on now, git!