The space in between game days is where champions are born
Long shot delivers - Woodbridge 195-pound wrestler Taeshaun Ford-Jackson was somewhere between a long shot and no shot heading into last weekend’s Henlopen Conference Championships. His record was 5-2, having sat out part of the season resolving an eligibility issue. He kept grinding and knew he’d return to make it right. Adults describe the young man as a good person and a great kid. On Saturday, he beat Cape’s Jackson Handlin, with a record of 32-11, in the semi finals, then pinned Sam Arkwuolle of Dover, whose record was 24-5, in the first period to win the Henlopen Conference Championship. Taeshaun broke down as the referee hoisted his arm into the air in victory. The moment was spiritually moving for those not easily moved, but I only speak for myself and hundreds of others. The cliche is true, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.”
Brothers in Arms - Mikey Fred, a Cape sophomore 145-pound wrestler, had a good Henlopen Conference tournament, placing third, and was involved in two of the more exciting matches of the tournament, a 15-13 loss to Jevon Saffold of Sussex Central and a 5-3 win over Caleb Adamowicz of Caesar Rodney. Sussex Tech coaches Scott Layfield and Jack Roach said to me, “That grandson of yours just never quits.” They could have been talking about Mikey’s older brother Davey. The Inclusion Kid is the soul of Cape wrestling. Davey had been sitting with a Sussex Tech crew, but then moved to the chairs where the refs were sitting. Later, he was at a scoring table, then over to a group of Milford girls who were sitting matside. He’s not ADD, he just realized that no one is that interesting after 15 minutes. And after C.J. Fritchman lost in the semifinals, Davey was in the hallway consoling him. No words were needed, just a touch of the hands. But before anyone starts singing “I Know Where Love Lives” by Hal Ketchum, Davey has filed the moment away and when C.J. least expects it, Davey will drop the hammer on him, just to get some laughs.
Hang time - I can hang at wrestling tournaments, track carnivals, lacrosse and soccer jamborees, and marathons and triathlons for hours and hours. I am that guy. It’s how I work and where I earn my sports credibility. I was bleary-eyed after watching a weekend of wrestling bouts last weekend; the problem comes with deprogramming yourself when the event is over. My wife and I, the saintly Miz Fred, went to the state wrestling meet in 1980. We are of course from someplace else, me from Philly and she from Anthracite Coal Region of Northeast Pennsylvania. A couple upstate students exercising their right to be stupid were being offensive and one of them said, “I wonder what happened to Cape’s great wrestler Charles Turner?” The other answered, “He’s probably somewhere in Selbyville chasing chickens.” Miz Fred got up and slowly turned before delivering a very measured and on point verbal beatdown like she was teaching a class. And I look back and realize that was the moment we became locals. Don’t mess with our muppets!”
Bend then wait - Giovanni Bendfeldt of Cape is the DIAA State Indoor Champion in the pole vault after jumping a personal-best of 13 feet Feb. 22 at the Delaware State Championships in Landover, Md. Confidence and a dash of craziness are personality traits required to be a champion in the vault, just rock back as the fiberglass pole bends to the side then wait for it to snap back and send you over the bar and don’t forget to turn once you get up there. Travon McVicker of Sussex Central was state champion in the high jump powering over 6-feet-4-inches. Complete coverage of the Delaware Indoor Track Championships will appear in the Friday edition of the Cape Gazette. Expanded results can be found at de.milesplit.com.
Snippets - It’s hard to believe but practices for spring sports begin Monday ,March 2. Coaches of all sports are hoping that the winter that never seriously showed up doesn’t drop in for a visit in early March. Cape boys’ lacrosse, the defending Delaware state champions, has a home scrimmage play day scheduled for Saturday, March 7, against Malvern, Garnet Valley and Severna Park. The Under Armour/IL Top 25 High School Preseason Power Rankings has the Friars of Malvern ranked No. 7 in the country. Calvert Hall of of Maryland, who play in the MIAA, are ranked No. 1. I am a preseason photographer, ranked number nothing. Hocus pocus, how do you focus? Go on now, git!