The Caesar Rodney Riders won their first Division I team wrestling title since 2012, surviving the No. 1 seeded Smyrna Eagles in the finals of the 2018 DIAA Dual Team Wrestling State Championships Saturday night at Smyrna High, 30-29.
CR and Smyrna traded wins early on in the finals, until late wins by Michael Primo, Cameron Hayes, Ben Anderson and Jackson Dean put the Riders in the driver seat with just two matches to go.
Dean’s pinfall win at 145 gave the Riders a 30-20 lead with two matches left.
Smyrna's Greg Baum won by pin over CR’s Riley Tracy to make the score 30-26, setting up a nerve-racking final match for both sides.
With the title on the line, Mikel Abdullah held off Smyrna’s JT Davis, falling to the Eagle standout by decision, 7-2, but avoiding a pin, technical fall or major decision to give the Riders their ninth title since 1993.
CR began their journey in the opening round, defeating Blue Hen Flight A Champions St. Georges Tech, 46-21, powered by pinfall victories from Abdullah, Sam Ervin and Cameron Hayes.
In the semifinals, the Riders battled it out with Salesianum, winning 38-25. Abdullah, Hicks, Brenden Holder, Kevin Hudson, Patrick Wisniewski, Primo and Dean all came away with decision wins, while Hayes and Anderson had pinfall wins to help send CR to the finals.
As the No. 1 seed, Smyrna received an opening round bye before knocking off Sussex Central, 46-11, in a rematch of last year’s DI final. JT Davis, Tony Wuest, Hunter Moyer and Jaxson Al-Chokhacky all had pinfall wins over Sallies, while Dakota Kerr, Josh Dailey, Brent Young, Joey Natarcola, Drew Mayhall, Ryan Kelley and Logan Kosky all had decision victories helping Smyrna advance to the final.
In the Division II bracket, the Milford Buccaneers won their fifth state title in a row, defeating No. 1 seed Laurel in the finals.
Milford entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, needing to come away with wins against three teams to keep their championship.
In the opening round, the Buccaneers breezed by Woodbridge, 51-23, thanks to pinfall victories by Khiry Hovington, Gaij Copes, Anthony Diaz, Jacob Bryant, Corey Messick, Trenton Grant, Robbie Rossier and Jordan Passwaters.
Moving on to the semifinals, Milford defeated Indian River, 40-29, in a rematch of last year’s DII final. The Bucs were once again the beneficiaries of several pinfall victories against the Indians, with Hovington, Copes, Bevensky Augustine, Rosser, Dominic Feightner and Oscar Rosario pinning their opponents to help Milford advance to the finals with a shot at defending their title.
In the finals, Milford met No. 1 seed and Henlopen South Division Champion, the Laurel Bulldogs.
Laurel took control early after wins by Rae’Mier and Rae’Sheed DeShields before the Bucs rallied off three straight wins from Bennett (Major Decision) Diaz (Decision) and Messick (Technical Fall).
Down the stretch Laurel got big victories from Perkens Augustin, Isaiah Jenkins and Woo Fosque, but Milford closed out the round with a Welinton Rosario pinfall win and a major decision win from Khiry Hovington to help the Buccaneers keep their championship another year.
Milford remains the top dog in Division II, winning its fifth straight title and the third straight under Head Coach Don Parsley.