Take State Mat Titles
in Championship Matches
Finals Video Clips | Tourney Qualifier Photos
Photos: Sussex Central's Corey Strohmeyer (top), Indian River's Will Saylor (below) on the championship stand, and Seaford's Cameron Fitzgerald in the 135 championship match (further below).
DOVER -- Will Saylor of Indian River and Corey Strohmeyer of Sussex Central captured state championships in the 2001 Delaware high school individual state wrestling tournament at Delaware State University on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2001.
Saylor became the Indians' first state champion since Gerald Nocks and Preston Turnage won titles in 1989 when he decisioned Dover's Ken Monk 6-3 in the 103 final, and Strohmeyer gave the proud Golden Knight program its first title since 1999 when he decisioned William Penn's Harry Kettner 7-2 in the 130 final.
Laurel's Adam Ralph and Seaford's Cameron Fitzgerald also reached the finals before losing. Ralph lost to Caesar Rodney's Brian Palmer, 7-2, in a rematch of last weekend's controversial Henlopen Conference final won by Palmer, 5-4.
The tournament turned into the Caesar Rodney Invitational as the Riders, the state dual meet champions, won five individual championships. Chris Parker, CR's 112-pounder, was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler after edging St. Mark's Bobby Shaw, 6-4, on a takedown with 20 seconds left in the marquee final.
Both Saylor and Strohmeyer have had their eyes on a state championship since the beginning of the season.
Strohmeyer finished second at 130 last year and made a state title his main goal for his senior season.
He took a 4-1 lead in the second period on a pair of takedowns against Kettner and never waivered.
Strohmeyer won the match without Golden Knight head coach Phil Shultie, who was ejected from the tournament for arguing a call during Orion Cameron's 6-3 loss to Caesar Rodney's Steve Scaffedi in the 125-pound third-place match.
"He (Shultie) told me to go out and win it for him so I did," said Strohmeyer.
Strohmeyer was guided in the championship match by Knight assistant Chip Illian.
"I told Corey the main thing was to block everything out," said Illian. "You've got to block the fans out and you've got to focus on nothing but you and him (Kettner). You've got to pretend you're in a room by yourself and focus on nothing but you and him."
The victory gave Strohmeyer, also the conference champion at 130, a 35-4 record in his final season. He reached the finals with a pin of McKean's Josh Santobianc in the preliminaries, a 6-3 decision over Middletown's Ryan Spencer in the quarterfinals, and a 5-4 decision over A.I. DuPont's Scott Hadley in the semis.
Saylor, meanwhile, looked for the state title despite being just a freshman.
"This is what I've been working all season for," said Saylor, whose father was a two-time Maryland state champion who went on to wrestle for the prestigious Iowa State program.
Saylor moved to Indian River after wrestling in last year's state tournament for Delmar as an 8th grader. He blossomed under Indian coach Kurt Howell, who won four state titles and went 108-0 in his high school career at Newark from 1983-86.
Saylor is Howell's first state champion as a coach, but even though Howell understood first-hand what it would be like wrestling in a state championship match as a freshman, he tried not to give Saylor too much advice.
"I would have probably (given Saylor advice) but Will is the kind of kid who is in his own world," said Howell. "He kind of zones into his own thing. That's the way he gets prepared himself for his matches.
"Right before we walked out there, I could feel those same feelings (he had as a freshman) coming out there. It was as bad as wrestling in the states."
Saylor expected a close match against Monk as he did during the regular season. Quick on his feet, Monk was difficult to take down, but Saylor finally did take Monk down in the second period to take a 4-2 lead. Another takedown in the third period sealed the outcome.
Saylor zipped into the finals with a technical fall over Middletown's Brandon Boulder in the preliminaries, a 35-second pin of Hodgson's Ryan McLaughlin in the quarterfinals, and a 9-5 decision over Lake Forest's Tyler Lapinsky in the semifinals.
Ralph and Fitzgerald couldn't get any momentum going in their championship matches.
Ralph fell behind 5-0 in the second period of his rematch with Palmer before scoring his first point on an escape.
Finishing his career with more than 100 victories, Ralph reached the finals with a technical fall over Archmere's Matt Burns in the preliminaries, an 8-4 decision over William Penn's Kevin Burnett in the quarters, and a 7-5 decision over Lake Forest's Keith Collins in the semifinals.
Ralph also placed second in last year's tournament, though at 135 pounds.
Fitzgerald, who posted a 110-24 career record, was beaten 8-1 by Hodgson's Mike Welch in the 135 championship match.
Fitzgerald, who won the conference championship last weekend, pinned Middletown's Ryan Massey in the preliminaries, Newark's Steve Wooldridge in the quarterfinals, and decisioned Brandywine's Jason Scott in the semifinals.
Fitzgerald placed third in last year's state tournament at 125.
A number of other Sussex County wrestlers also placed in their weight classes.
Finishing third were Sussex Central's Raheim Brunskill at 145, Milford's J.R. Duffy at 171, and Sussex Central's Jake Booth at 189.
Finishing fourth were Sussex Central's Orion Cameron at 125, Indian River's Quinn Revel at 130, IR's Danny Carroll at 145, IR's Luis Perez at 152, Delmar's Lawrence Sinagra at 160, and Sussex Central's Jack Roach at 215.
Finishing fifth were Sussex Central's Casey Strohmeyer at 140, Sussex Tech's Robbie Twilley at 189, and Sussex Central's A.J. Rovillard at heavyweight.
And finishing sixth were Milford's Keith Brown at 119, Sussex Central's Erik Hopkins at 171, and Milford's Keith Kendzierski at 189.
Photo: Laurel's Adam Ralph looks at the clock at the close of his 7-2 loss to CR's Brian Palmer in the 171 final.
Indian River's Will Saylor on his 103 state championship:
"It feels great, really good. This is what I've been working all season for. I was very nervous. I had the butterflies. I didn't know what to expect, but it came out for the best."
Saylor on wrestling Dover's Ken Monk in the finals:
"It was close in the first period. He's very good on his feet. I wrestled him before and it was close then so I knew it was going to be close again."
Indian River coach Kurt Howell on Saylor's title:
"It was kind of a similar match to the time they wrestled before where Kenny came out there ... a phenomenal athlete, Kenny is ... he went out and took him down. It kind of looked bad for Will early on. Will just had faith in his conditioning and the hard work he's done and he came back and just kind of worked himself back into a position where he was on top and a position of power. He just kind of let it all hang out. He kind of iced it with a couple of takedowns there at the end."
Howell, a four-time state champion at Newark, on any advice he gave Saylor on wrestling in the state finals as a freshman:
"It's kind of funny there. I would have probably (given Saylor advice) but Will is the kind of kid who's in his own world. He kind of zones into his own thing. I like to let him ... coaching wrestling is an individual thing ... that's the way he gets prepared himself for his matches. I let him do his own thing. A few words of advice here and there, but I just try to let him prepare himself. He did it all himself out there."
Howell on coaching his first state champion:
"Right before we walked out there I could kind of feel those same feelings coming out there (as he did when he was a wrestler). I turned to (his assistant) and said, 'Hey, this is as bad as wrestling in the states'."
Sussex Central's Corey Strohmeyer on winning the 130-pound state title without head coach Phil Shultie, who had been ejected from the tournament during the third-place matches:
"It was a little bit harder. He (Shultie) told me to go out and win it for him, so I did."
Strohmeyer on wrestling with his brother, Casey, a 140-pound Golden Knight:
"It helps a lot to have your brother out there for support. It helps a lot. We just wrestled around for fun (as kids). We never knew about this (organized wrestling) until seventh grade."
Sussex Central assistant Chip Illian, who filled in for Shultie:
"I told him (Corey) the main thing is to block everything out. You've got to block the fans out and you've got to focus on nothing but you and him. You've got to pretend you're in a room by yourself and focus on nothing but you and him."
Illian on filling in for Shultie:
"Phil is a great coach. He was out there defending one of his wrestlers in a close match. He thought the call was not right and he went and argued it and got ejected. He's a great coach and all he was doing was defending his wrestler. The circumstances were a little different (coaching in the finals), but Corey adapted to them and went on and did what he had to do. He wrestled a real mellow match."
Copyright © 1999-2001 Sussex County Online