Past and present converge at Henlopen Wrestling Championships

February 22, 2022

Convergence - “Planets are spinning in space, may as well enjoy the race. Isn’t it a lovely ride?” - James Taylor. Sports atoms are moving and colliding throughout the universe, connecting our past to the present and into the future. Milford wrestling coach Don Parsley was presented with a tribute by Sussex County Councilman Mark Schaeffer for achieving 300 wins as head coach of the Bucs. That presentation was later followed by a moment of silence in tribute to the late Milford coach Roy Rigby, who won a state title for Milford 41 years ago in 1981. And Caesar Rodney coach Dan Rigby, the nephew of Roy, led Caesar Rodney to the 2022 Henlopen Conference team title without an individual champion. The Riders are the only team in Delaware to qualify all 14 wrestlers for the state tournament. Wrestling is the quintessential “bust a move'' sport. The key is to keep moving, take your shots, play good defense and remember to shake hands. 

Bullet train - I remember in 1996 reading that Juwan Howard, a forward for the Washington Bullets who had signed a $100 million contract, failed a field sobriety test in Washington and was charged with DWI. Teammate Chris Webber came to the police station to pick him up. I tried to imagine a 6-foot-9 guy at 3:45 a.m. getting out of his Mercedes then failing the test and being taken into custody. Webber and Howard, along with Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, were part of a 1991 Michigan recruiting class that led the Wolverines to the NCAA championship game, the first team to do it with all freshmen in the starting lineup. They revolutionized uniforms, bringing in the baggy pants look. On Sunday, I was watching the handshake ritual at Wisconsin following Michigan’s loss to the Badgers when head coach Howard, now 49 years old, threw an open-handed punch at the noggin of Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft which connected. The Detroit print media is calling for Howard’s head, but he’s a Fab Five guy from the south side of Chicago who learned to be meaner than a junkyard dog; it's taken him a long way. Juwan’s train might have rolled into its final destination station. You won’t find him doing Subway commercials; you may not find him at all. Anyone can get gone in a single moment of bad judgment. 

Basement Boys - Last spring after Cape lacrosse beat then-unbeaten Sanford at hard-to-spell-and-pronounce Hockessin, I ran a photo of the Basement Boys – C.J. Fritchman, face-off specialist; Carson Kammerer, goalie; and attackman Mikey Frederick – as being crucial in the 16-15 victory. On Saturday, Cape crowned five Henlopen Conference champions, the most in school history.  Frederick, Fritchman, and Kammerer along with Alex Taylor and Dalton Deevey are all wrestling basement and bracket boys, a subterranean brotherhood. The basement is a workout room with mats and a sauna in the corner owned by Scott and Lisa Kammerer. “First you need a basement, but it's the athletes using it that makes it all work,” Scott said. It’s the wrestling equivalent of having a basketball court and glass backboard in the driveway.

Choir boy - Anthony Caruso, Cape all-time leader in wins and two-time state champion, placed third in the 141-pound weight class at the NAIA South Conference Championships last weekend, which qualified him for the NAIA National Wrestling Championships in Wichita, Kan., the weekend of March 4. Anthony attends Midway University in Midway, Ky., which has an enrollment of 2,050. Anthony is a 3.0 student majoring in sports management and business administration. Anthony plans to compete in Europe this summer. 

Memorialized and oxidized - I received a track Coach of the Year plaque 45 years ago from the Lower Delaware Gridiron Club memorializing Cape’s 1976 state championship. That plaque is somewhere in my house in a box, but the lettering has faded due to its interaction with lifesaving oxygen. What’s left after oxidation is what science calls a byproduct. Grandmom Rose: “Today's fresh memories are tomorrow's byproducts.” We should all fill out a brag sheet and save it to the cloud, but forget the password, and it will remain both permanent and inaccessible.

Snippets - Speaking of trophies, plaques and medals, is there a consistent DIAA policy for state championship teams and runners-up? The basic answer is the pursuit of equivalency over substantially different sports is close to impossible. Better to toss it back to booster clubs. Go on now, git!


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