Two-day wrestling tournaments draw blood, scatter emotions

Head coaching changes in spring sports
February 28, 2023

Indoor cat - I spent two days inside the Milford Central Academy gym covering the Henlopen Conference Wrestling Championships, and I learned there is such a thing as a “walking taco” housed in hard plastic, designed for the fan who doesn't want to miss anything, although there are signs “no food or drink in the gym.” There is blood time and vomit time built into matches if required. If the student-athlete was sitting in a classroom and the kid next to him had a bloody cotton plug up his nostril secured by athletic tape wrapped around his head, that student would ask for a pass to the bookless library. And how about throwing up into a trash can or “mop up on mat one.” I’m thinking of a band name, the Airborne Contagions, or an appearance by the Bloodhound Gang and my favorite lyric “If you can’t be the big dog, you gotta be the Scooby pup.” 

Fleeing the mat - Patrick Donahue was the bottom seed at 215 pounds wrestling the top gun Cullen Parsell in the quarterfinals. The match was tied at 4-4 at the beginning of the final period with Patrick on the bottom. Cullen let him up to trail 5-4, figuring he’d take him down for two points and a 6-5 win, but something funny happened on the way to the wall mat. Patrick was cautiously staying away from Cullen’s wheelhouse when the official hit Donahue with a one-point penalty for fleeing the mat. The score was tied at 5-5. Coach Chris Mattioni called the two officials to the scoring table, arguing, “How can you flee the mat when the mat is up against a padded wall?” A Warren Zevon lyric came to mind: “I think I’ll hurl myself into the wall because I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all.”  Two refs conferred. The call was changed to a stall warning, and Patrick Donahue’s improbable journey to a conference championship and Outstanding Wrestling trophy kept rolling down the mat.   

Shake it up, baby - Spring sports practices began Monday, Feb. 27. Reading online rosters instead of joining a pickleball club, I discovered that the new head coach of Cape boys’ lacrosse is Geoff Shupard, assisted by Mark D’Ambrogi and Jack Lingo. A.J .Marshall is the JV head coach. That is just a slide-to-the-side reconfiguration, but all the usual muppets remain in place.  Cape softball lists Mike Tkach as head coach with Sydney Ostroski as JV head coach. Tom Incontrera is the new head coach of boys’ lacrosse at Smyrna High School. Mia Piscarik, formerly at Sussex Tech, is the head girls’ lacrosse coach at Smyrna. Go to websites4sports and you will learn all kinds of stuff about all Delaware high school programs. 

TrackWrestling - Brackets are out for the 2023 DIAA Individual Wrestling State Championship. Go to Click on events. Click on search events. Select Delaware from the pull-down menu next to State. Select DIAA Individual State Tournament. Then enter the event. If you are still lost, go play pickleball or tie a bandana around your doodle's neck. The tough Henlopen Conference only has three top seeds – Malachi Stratton, 113, of Sussex Central; Nurrideen Ahmad-Statts, 150, of Lake Forest; and C.J. Fritchman, 175, of Cape Henlopen. I’m predicting more than three state champions from the Henlopen Conference. Last year, the Henlopen Conference produced five state champions. Stratton, 106; Gabe Giampietro, 120, of Smyrna; Jack Thode, 132, of Milford; Mikey Frederick, 144, of Cape; and Lucas Ruppert, 285, of Cape. 

Snippets - The Cape Henlopen girls’ basketball team is the third seed in the DIAA state tournament. They can win home games March 3 and March 6 to advance to the semifinals at the Bob Carpenter Center March 8. Cape’s March 3 game will likely be at Sussex Tech because of the state wrestling tournament at Cape. The Cape boys play at Caravel Tuesday, Feb. 28. Go on now, git! 


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