WOODSIDE — This early in the wrestling season, it can sometimes be difficult to have a squad at full strength.
That turned out to be the case for Milford High at Saturday afternoon’s annual Polytech Invitational.
It didn’t stop four of Milford’s wrestlers from grabbing individual first place finishes on their way to the overall team title for the second year in a row.
“Certainly, it would be nice to be full strength to get those other guys the matches they need under their belt so they can prepare for their season,” said Milford coach Don Parsley. “The younger guys, they stepped up.”
The Bucs registered 188 team points in what was their first time officially hitting the mat this season.
With 12 schools from across the state participating in the tourney hosted at Polytech High, nine of the 14 individual title wins were earned by Henlopen Conference wrestlers.
Sophomores Jack Thode (120-pound weight class) and Tim O’Hara (145) and seniors Bevensky Augustin (195) and Anthony Diaz (285) earned the individual titles for the Bucs, with each of the four wrestlers earning the titles via a pin in the second round of their respective championship bouts.
Aaron Briscoe (132) placed second as the sophomore fell by 7-1 decision in the championship bout. Two third place, one fourth and one sixth round finish rounded out Milford’s nine podium winners.
“It feels great to be back out there,” Diaz said. “We all practice hard during the offseason and being able to come out and perform like this in the first tournament of the season feels pretty good.”
The Bucs host Cape Henlopen High in their first dual meet of the season this Wednesday before hosting the annual Milford Invitational next Saturday.
After winning six consecutive DIAA Division II dual meet state titles, Milford is moving up to Division I competition this season.
“You know, this is year 30 for me coaching and 35 teaching, and I’m just really excited about what we’ve done,” said Parsley. “It’s just another year and I can’t wait to see where it leads us.”
Lake Forest High placed second as a team with 165 points, with title wins coming from Ibrahim Statts (170) and Kristopher Thompson (220). Thompson pinned his opponent with 1:08 remaining in the second period, while Statts won by 14-1 major decision.
Juniors Tyler Ratledge (106) and Nathan Schurman (195) fell just shy of titles, losing in the championship matches of their respective weight classes for Lake.
“I definitely think our team surprised everyone,” Thompson said. “Especially with getting second place. I think everyone thought. ‘oh, Lake Forest got blown out by Cape’ or ‘Lake Forest is a young team’ and they didn’t think we’d come out here and perform. I think we really showed people in our conference that we’ll be a force to be reckoned with this year.”
Sussex Tech High snagged third place, garnering 160 points and a pair of individual titles from junior Parker Selzer (152) and sophomore Josh Negron (182).
It took just 1:02 for Selzer to pin Hodgson Vo-Tech High’s Tim Eddinger in the championship bout, while Negron pinned Middletown High’s George Thomas with 26 seconds remaining in the second period.
The host Polytech High grabbed fourth place, with 153 points, while Laurel High’s 105 points earned them ninth place to round out the Henlopen squads in attendance.
Senior Kenel DeCembre defeated McKean High’s Dante Trader by 4-0 decision in the 160-pound championship bout to earn Polytech’s lone individual title.
Seniors Michael Rodriguez (120) and Dylan Craighton (220) each had second place finishes for Poly.
Laurel didn’t have any individual winners but put one wrestler in the final as sophomore Nathan Austin placed second in the 113-pound class.
Delcastle High’s Julian Rapuano (106), Hodgson’s Ainsley Doyle (113), Concord High’s Elias Smith (126), Charter School of Wilmington’s Dominic Ball (132) and Middletown’s Will Carl (138) rounded out the remaining titles of the meet.