Sussex County Delaware
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Delaware Dual Meet Tournament ...

Laurel Falls in
Dual Meet Finals
  • Story
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  • Laurel head coach Tom Pavia makes one of many trips down the sidelines to exhort Bulldog wrestling fans.

    Laurel head coach Tom Pavia

    Story ...

    Pin in Final Match
    Gives Title to Smyrna
    Publisher, Sussex County Online

    DOVER -- The Delaware High School state dual meet wrestling tournament format affords precious little time for semifinal winners to savor their victories.

    So the Laurel High School wrestling team had exactly 40 minutes to enjoy its first state tournament victory in wrestling -- a 36-32 semifinal win over Milford -- in the 2003 dual meet tournament at Delaware State on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

    After the win over Milford, the top-seeded Bulldogs looked like they would make the whole night one to remember, but second-seeded Smyrna rallied in the last four matches in the finals for a 37-31 victory and the Division II state dual meet championship.

    The crushing loss, coming after the Bulldogs had taken a 31-16 lead on a pin by Will Saylor at 125 with four matches to go, dampened what otherwise was a watershed moment in Laurel wrestling history.

    Coming off the school's first Henlopen Conference Southern Division title in 20 years and wrestling in the state dual meet tournament for the first time (the tournament didn't begin until 1993), Laurel thrilled the contingent of Bulldog fans who made the trip to Dover with the 36-32 win over Milford for the program's first state tournament victory.

    Meanwhile, Smyrna was thrilling Eagle fans, too, by knocking off six-time defending state champion Hodgson, 34-32, in its semifinal.

    That set the stage for what promised to be another dramatic dual meet between the Bulldogs and Eagles, who tied 27-27 on Jan. 7, with the Bulldogs eventually declared the winner by virtue of having two pins to Smyrna's one.

    On Tuesday night, Laurel posted three pins in the first 10 matches to build its 15-point lead, including a pin by Will Saylor over Smyrna's Kyle Robinson in 2:30 in the 125-pound match for a 31-16 advantage.

    But with its less experienced wrestlers facing some of Smyrna's top wrestlers in the final four matches, the lead quickly disappeared.

    First, Smyrna's Nick Proud pinned Laurel freshman Robert Reed in 43 seconds in the 130-pound match to bring Smyrna within 31-22. Then, a 5-2 decision by Brian Fletcher over Laurel's D.W. Horsey brought the Eagles within 31-25.

    Smyrna then finished off the fourth state title in the school's history with a pin at 140 by conference finalist Russell Revel over Laurel's Jameik Matthews -- in only his third year of wrestling ever -- and a pin by conference champion Pat Blissard over Laurel's Jeff Downes -- known more for football and baseball -- at 145.

    Laurel started the dual meet with a pin by Jason Ward at 152 in 1:27. Smyrna then tied the score 6-6 with decisions by Scott Cahall and Mike Zulkowski at 160 and 171.

    Laurel got another pin by Kiante Walker in 3:06 at 189 for a 12-6 lead, but Smyrna responded with a technical fall at 215 by conference champion Josh Cherriman.

    Laurel then began to generate some breathing room with three straight wins. First, Zach Slatcher recorded a pin at heavyweight in 5:14 for an 18-11 lead. He was followed by Mark Saylor's 9-4 decision over Smyrna's Matt Bivins at 103 for a 21-11 advantage. A major decision by Jared Allen over Smyrna's Tad Broomall at 112 pushed the Bulldog lead to 25-11.

    Smyrna stopped the Laurel run with a technical fall by Michael Crain at 119, but Will Saylor registered his pin at 125 for the 31-16 lead.

    As for Laurel's 36-32 semifinal win over Milford, while the score looked like another barn-burner like the Bulldogs' 33-27 victory that clinched the Henlopen Conference Southern Division on Feb. 12, it was anything but.

    The score was only that close because Laurel decided to rest its 135- to 145-pound wrestlers by forfeiting those final three weight classes after building an insurmountable 36-14 lead following the 130-pound bout.

    The Bulldogs started off with a pair of pins by Jason Ward at 152 and Ben Ralph at 160 for a 12-0 lead. Milford cut the gap to 12-6 when Kris Kendzierski won by disqualification over Laurel's Ricky Ralph, but that would be as close as the Bucs would come until the three Laurel forfeits.

    Laurel increased its lead to 24-6 on decisions by Kiante Walker at 189 and Eston Ennis at 215 and a pin by heavyweight Zach Slatcher.

    Milford's Jimmy Artis, the Henlopen Conference champion over the weekend, won by a decision to bring Milford within 24-9, but the Bulldogs responded with a decision by Jared Allen at 112, a hard-fought, double-overtime decision by Bobby Otwell at 119, and a pin by Will Saylor at 125 for an insurmountable 36-9 advantage.

    Milford then got a technical fall by Josh Abraham at 130 to cut the deficit to 36-14 before Laurel forfeited the final three matches.

    Results ...

    Laurel , Smyrna

    152 Pounds
    • Jason Ward (L) pinned Jason Kurtz (S), 1:27
      6-0 LAUREL
    160 Pounds
    • Scott Cahall (S) dec. Ben Ralph (L), 9-7
      6-3 LAUREL
    171 Pounds
    • Mike Zulkowski (S) dec. Ricky Ralph (L), 5-3
    189 Pounds
    • Kiante Walker (L) pinned Javan Siler (S), 3:06
      12-6 LAUREL
    215 Pounds
    • Josh Cherriman (S) tech. fall Eston Ennis (L), 18-3
      12-11 LAUREL
    • Zach Slatcher (L) pinned Mike Hartnett (S), 5:14
      18-11 LAUREL
    103 Pounds
    • Mark Saylor (L) dec. Matt Bivins (S), 9-4
      21-11 LAUREL
    112 Pounds
    • Jared Allen (L) maj. dec. Tad Broomall (S), 13-4
      25-11 LAUREL
    119 Pounds
    • Michael Crain (S) tech. fall Bobby Otwell (L), 20-4
      25-16 LAUREL
    125 Pounds
    • Will Saylor (L) pinned Kyle Robinson (S), 2:30
      31-16 LAUREL
    130 Pounds
    • Nick Proud (S) pinned Robert Reed (L), :43
      31-22 LAUREL
    135 Pounds
    • Brian Fletcher (S) dec. D.W. Horsey (L), 5-2
      31-25 LAUREL
    140 Pounds
    • Russell Revel (S) pinned Jameik Matthews (L), 5:57
    145 Pounds
    • Pat Blissard (S) pinned Jeff Downes (L), 3:00
      37-31 SMYRNA

    Laurel 36, Milford 32

    152 Pounds
    • Jason Ward (L) pinned Dan Donovan (M), 1:53
      6-0 LAUREL
    160 Pounds
    • Ben Ralph (L) pinned Ian Ferguson (M), 5:59
      12-0 LAUREL
    171 Pounds
    • Kris Kendzierski (M) won by disq. over Ricky Ralph (L)
      12-6 LAUREL
    189 Pounds
    • Kiante Walker (L) dec. Luke Pierson (M), 4-1
      15-6 LAUREL
    215 Pounds
    • Eston Ennis (L) dec. Brandon Kendzierski (M), 9-7
      18-6 LAUREL
    • Zach Slatcher (L) pinned Paul Sobus (M), 1:01
      24-6 LAUREL
    103 Pounds
    • Jimmy Artis (M) dec. Marc Saylor (L), 13-7
      24-9 LAUREL
    112 Pounds
    • Jared Allen (L) dec. Nathan Fleming (M), 8-2
      27-9 LAUREL
    119 Pounds
    • Bobby Otwell (L) dec. Nick Creasey (M), 2 OT
      30-9 LAUREL
    125 Pounds
    • Will Saylor (L) pinned Thomas Drummond (M), :46
      36-9 LAUREL
    130 Pounds
    • Josh Abraham (M) tech. fall Robert Reed (L), 19-4
      36-14 LAUREL
    135 Pounds
    • Keith Brown (M) won by forfeit
      36-20 LAUREL
    140 Pounds
    • Allan Passwaters (M) won by forfeit
      36-26 LAUREL
    145 Pounds
    • David Marvel (M) won by forfeit
      36-32 LAUREL

    Notes ...

    • Caesar Rodney captured the second Division I state title in its history with a 25-23 triumph over defending state champion St. Mark's in the championship finals. The Riders won three of the last four matches to overcome a 20-16 deficit and finish its dual meet season with a 16-0 record. St. Mark's, coached by Sussex Central grad Steve Bastianelli, was the top seed. In the Division semifinals, CR edged William Penn 34-26 and St. Mark's pounded Salesianum 47-15.

    • Smyrna and Hodgson have won virtually all of the Division II state titles, with only A.I. Dupont, in 1995, breaking their stranglehold on the crown. Smyrna has now won four state titles -- its last was in 1996 -- while Hodgson has won six.

    • The Division I state championship has been spread among three teams -- William Penn, St. Mark's and Caesar Rodney. St. Mark's leads with five titles, William Penn has won four, and CR now has two.

    Video Clips ...

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