By Kevin Eickman
From the start of the season, this has been the goal. In his fourth year as head coach of the Milford wrestling team, coach Dan Rigby will have his team competing for the DIAA Division II Championship. Heading into the final week of the season this past week, there was little doubt that Milford would have a top seed in the State Dual meet, held this Tuesday at Smyrna High School. By the end of the week the Buccaneers had erased any doubt, as they secured the number one seed in the meet.
On Wednesday Milford lost their first and only meet of the year, as Division I power, and number two seed, Cape Henlopen defeated the Bucs 45-17. It was a match that saw Milford hang in for a while, but a few key losses made winning the match impossible. “We had our chances, but we probably lost a few matches we shouldn’t have,” Rigby said. “It wasn’t our best performance of the year, but we didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it and that’s good.”
Talking with Rigby about the big week ahead, one that will conclude with the Henlopen Conference Championships, held at Milford this Friday and Saturday, Rigby thinks his team will be up to the challenge. “We will be going against some real tough teams, but I think our guys are up for it,” stated Rigby. “We are wrestling our best right now, at the most important time of the year.”
The reason Milford did not have reason to dwell on it was that just two days later they hosted both Polytech and Sussex Tech in the final regular season meet of the season. Both Poly and Sussex faced off in the first match with a birth in the the Division I meet on the line. It came down to the last match, but Poly was able to secure the final birth in the State meet.
With Milford wrestling Poly next, an enthusiastic home crowd cheered the Bucs on as they got back on the winning track. The resounding 43-19 victory was something Rigby was looking for, following their first loss of the season on Wednesday. “We wanted our guys to come back and have a good meet after losing to Cape,” Rigby said. “Like they have all season, the guys worked hard and came away with the win we wanted.”
Following the win against Polytech, Milford then battled Sussex Tech. While the issue of tournament births had been settled, the match was still an important one for Milford as it gave them a chance to wrestle in back to back matches, much the same way that the State Dual Meet is run. “This is exactly like it will be on Tuesday, we will have to win our first match and then come back and wrestle another right after that,” Rigby stated.
Perhaps the most interesting matches of the meet came as junior Austin Rothermill made his Varsity debut for the Buccaneers. Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, Rothermill battled through injury in a tightly contested match to earn his first victory. Talking with Rothermill after the match, he had a great time making in his first varsity start “It was a lot of fun, I had a great time.” Rothermill stated. Milford’s semi-final match will start at 5:30 on Tuesday, with the championship scheduled for 7:30.