Yeah, the house is rockin’, don’t bother knockin’, come on in.” - Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Cape’s Carson Kammerer had Cole Jester of Sussex Central on his back in the final bout of the night at 138 pounds. The Golden Knights were trying to get home in their own house Feb. 12, clinging to a 33-27 lead in the first round of the eight-team DIAA Dual Meet Championship. A pin would tie it up.
Kammerer squeezed, looking for that magic moment, but Jester wasn’t about it. He didn’t want to be that guy.
A full house of wrestling zealots were on their collective feet screaming and swaying, but a tie match decided by criteria wasn’t in the cards. Kammerer secured a four-point major decision for the final score of 33-31 and a team victory for Sussex Central.
“The coaches lobbied for a first-round match at the home of the higher seed,” said Cape coach Chris Mattioni. “I don’t know about other venues, but the atmosphere in this gym was electric. It was a good night for the sport of wrestling.”
The contest started at 145 pounds, where Jevon Saffold executed an athletic catch and freestyle throw of Mikey Frederick who got stuck at 1:17 into the match.
Cape’s Finbar Rishko (152) earned a tough 5-3 decision over Jaden Savage. Central’s Tarryl Sturgis (160) pinned Juan Lares at 1:07, followed by an Andre Currie (170) pin of Central’s Kody Lankford at 2:31 into the bout. Central led the match 12-9.
Gary Hayes and Sam Jones were matched at 182 pounds. They are fast friends and the best of friends. Just last spring, they were coaching a unified track team together at Cape Henlopen.
“I didn’t like it,” Jones said after the crucial match, which he won on a takedown in overtime 9-7. “Gary is really good, and I think we’re both glad the match is over.”
Jackson Handlin (195), who wrestled 160 last season, battled Terrance Frisby for three periods to earn a 5-3 win by decision and three team points for Cape
Central’s Hiram Lasher (220), back from ACL repair a year ago, pinned a much-improved Cam Smith in 2:55, as the Golden Knights led 21-12 .
Cape’s Lucas Ruppert (285) and Tyler Karr went to overtime in the regular season, where Karr secured a victory. The script was the same but reversed Wednesday night, with Ruppert coming away with a 2-1 overtime win.
“He’s a really nice kid,” Ruppert said after the match. “Even his dad came down and congratulated me. I know we’ll probably wrestle again in conferences and states. It’s the biggest win of my career.”
Cape trailed 21-15 rolling into the lighter weights with six bouts remaining. Cape’s Holt Baker (106) got a quick pin over Gerod Sturgis in 1:36 to tie the match at 21-21.
Dylan King (113) battled Cape’s Josh Wright for a 9-3 win, followed by an Evan Broomall win by pin of Austin Bacot of Cape, as the Golden Knights surged to a 30-21 advantage.
Mason Ankrom of Central fought off C.J. Fritchman for the third time this season, winning a competitive bout 5-2. The Knights’ lead was up to 33-21.
Luke Bender, who recently descended to 132 pounds, pinned Central’s Andrew Long at 4:19 to close the Central advantage to 33-27, setting up the final-bout showdown and throw down at 138.
The Division I semifinal is Saturday, Feb. 15, at Smyrna High School, beginning at 4 p.m., featuring Sussex Central versus Smyrna. The Eagles beat William Penn 63-12. The other bout will feature Milford versus Salesianum. Milford beat Sussex Tech 55-7, while the Sals won 34-33 over Caesar Rodney.
The Division II semifinal bouts are at 2 p.m., with Caravel versus DMA and Woodbridge versus Laurel.