Fourteen state champions from 11 schools closed out the 2017-18 wrestling championships. The meet was highlighted by Smyrna’s three champions and Sussex Central’s two.
“A very successful tournament. Wrestling fans love coming to the beach,” said Cape Athletic Director Bob Cilento.
Cape coach Chris Mattioni, his staff and lots of volunteers make the event smooth sailing. Coaches and parents were saying, “Please have it at Cape again next year.” Cape has now hosted the wrestling state championships six of the last seven years.
Sussex Central crowned state champions at 106, as Mason Ankrom defeated Joey Natarcola of Smyrna 8-7, and later at 132 pounds, when Rashad Stratton edged Nick Natarcola 4-2. Both matches were so close that the officials seemed ready to award Smyrna points as time expired. Smyrna fans sitting in a large group were not happy and there was some jawing with Sussex Central partisans, but tensions were quickly quelled.
Smyrna did produce three champions, though, including Greg Baum at 145 with an 8-5 win over Kyle McDonough of Sanford, Josh Dailey at 182 with an 11-6 victory over Michael Wright of Sussex Central, and Tony Wuest at 195 who pinned Eric Bennett of Milford in 36 seconds.
Cape’s Anthony Caruso, who upset Cameron Hayes of Caesar Rodney in the semifinals of last year’s tournament, lost to Hayes in the 126-pound final 3-1. Hayes graduates a three-time champion. Caruso was seeded third and beat Woo Fosque of Laurel in the semis. Fosque had beaten Caruso in the regular season.
Other state championship bouts included: 113, Zach Spence of Sallies over Indian River’s Will Rayne 7-3; 120, Robbie Rosser of Milford over Sebastian Sye of Saint Georges 15-3; 138, Nick Novarnik of St. Georges over Harry Latch of Sallies 7-2; 152, Andrew Brook of Sanford over Luke Harasika of Sallies 5-4; 160, Avery Mayan of Polytech over Divine Watkins of Dover, fall, 3:05; 170, Brian Schneider of Middletown over Logan Montgomery of Sallies 12-1; 220, Hugo Harp of Dover over Andrew Hawkins of Sussex Tech 9-3; and 285, Hunter Balback of Delaware Military Academy over Kevin Hudson of Caesar Rodney 3-2.
Cape’s 285-pound grappler Jonah Robertson had a great tournament with a fourth-place finish. He lost by a single point to both the eventual champion Hunter Balback and third-place finisher Jamie Schirmer of Sussex Tech.
Chris Handlin, 170, defeated Tyler Bunting of Sussex Central in overtime to capture fifth place in the tournament.
Tony Wuest of Smyrna, 195, was voted the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler, pinning his way through four opponents, each in under 37 seconds. Wuest completes the season 46-2, with his two losses coming in the Beast of the East Tournament.