Anthony Caruso is a boneless cat on the wrestling mat. He is all attack and counterattack. His limbs move in synchronicity at all times. He is limber and lithe, and he’ll look the official in the eyes when he knows it’s a stalemate or a potentially dangerous predicament. He isn’t going to his back, even if his arm is twisted from the socket.
Caruso feels pain but doesn’t show it. He sometimes smiles when he is the aggressor in a cat-and-mouse match. All of this is wrapped tightly in a 132-pound athletic body.
Caruso was Cape’s lone Henlopen Conference champion Feb. 16 at Sussex Central High School, holding on to beat Amir Pierce of Smyrna 17-11.
“Anthony is not back to full strength after the flu,” said coach Chris Mattioni. “He’s cagey and crafty enough to win a 17-11 match.”
Pierce upset Jevon Saffold of Sussex Central in the semifinals. Saffold game back to grab third in the tournament.
Gabriel Degraffinreed of Caesar Rodney decisioned Andre Currie 8-5 in the 152-pound championship bout.
Jackson Handlin beat Gavin Sembly of Smyrna 6-5 to capture third in the 160-pound weight class, while brother Chris Handlin beat Bevensky Augustin of Milford 14-8 to place third at 182 pounds.
The Vikings sent five grapplers to the same round to wrestle for seventh place.
“We needed all those guys to win for them to have a chance at the state tournament,” Mattioni said.
And they all won and learned Sunday they were state qualifiers, joining Caruso, Currie, Jackson Handlin and Chris Handlin to give the Vikings nine state qualifiers.
Winning by pinning were Mikey Frederick (126), Finbar Rishko (138), Roy Jones (170) and Eduardo Saez (220). Billy Ott won by tech fall at 195.
Carson Kammerer (120) was assured no worse than sixth place and a spot in the state tournament, but was disqualified for straight-arming his opponent during the required post-match handshake.
Smyrna won the team competition with 223.5 points. The Eagles were followed by Milford with 208, Sussex Central with 174, Caesar Rodney with 157, Cape Henlopen with 112, Sussex Tech with 109, Indian River with 107 and Dover with 106.
Henlopen Conference individual champions were – 103: Gabe Giampietro of Smyrna; 113: Jack Thode of Milford; 120: Joe Natarcola of Smyrna; 126: Jaxson Al-Chokhachy of Smyrna; 132: Anthony Caruso of Cape; 138: Nicholas Natorcola of Smyrna; 145: Jackson Dean of Caesar Rodney; 152: Gabriel Degraffinreed of Caesar Rodney; 160: Gage Copes of Milford; 170: Gabe Evans of Dover; 182: JT Davis of Smyrna; 195: Michael Wright of Sussex Central; 220: Anthony Diaz of Milford; and 285: Kevin Hudson of Caesar Rodney.