By Kevin Eickman
In a wrestling tournament that lasts two days and is comprised of 19 teams, there is bound to be some fatigue. While there was plenty of fatigue by the time Saturday evening rolled around, there was plenty of excitement also. There was already a feeling of optimism around this year’s Buccaneer squad and the results did nothing but boost their expectations as the Buccaneers begin to embark on the quest for their third consecutive State title.
As Friday evening came to a close, it was clear that Milford was in for big things this past weekend. With the preliminary rounds concluded, Milford had a staggering eight wrestlers qualify for the semi-finals Saturday morning. “A number like that is an indication of just how deep our team is this season,” stated Coach Don Parsley. “We have an outstanding group of young men, who put in the hard work. So I can honestly say that I am not surprised by the results”
The success just kept on coming Saturday for the Buccaneers, with seven wrestlers qualifying for the finals. With the solid results, Milford knew that they had a chance at the team title and with a solid showing in the finals it would be theirs.
Starting at 106 pounds, sophomore Robbie Rosser was first up for the Buccaneers. Facing off against Austin Price of Polytech. Things did not start out well for Rosser, falling behind 5-0 early in the match, something that could have spelled doom for some wrestlers. Rosser however, just buckled down and got the job done. “I knew there was plenty of time left, so I really wasn’t too worried,” Rosser said. “I knew I just had to wrestle how I’m capable of and everything would be OK.” With persistence, Rosser worked his way into the lead and did not surrender another point on his way to the 8-5 victory.
The winning would continue for Milford as junior Alex Creasey would turn in a workman like victory against Sanford’s Kyle McDonough. Earning his first ever Milford Invitational title at 126 pounds, via pin. “It was really great to get my first Milford win. It is always great to win in front of your home fans,” Creasey stated.
The most compelling match of the finals featured Milford senior Bart Dalious, as he battled highly regarded Justin Bennett of Sussex Central. It was a match that went back and forth all the way through, as each wrestler refused to yield. It almost appeared that Dalious had lost his opportunity for victory, yielding a late take down and falling behind by a point. Dalious was not about to yield however and managed a take down of his own, with just 15 seconds remaining in the match, thereby securing the victory. “Bennett is a fantastic wrestler and I knew he wouldn’t give an inch,” Dalious stated. “I was amazed I had the chance at the end there and I just took advantage of it.” In addition to his title at 145 pounds, Dalious was also named the tournaments outstanding wrestler. An honor that he was simply thrilled to receive “An honor like this is something you never expect, it is an award that really means a lot to me.”
Milford’s fourth and final individual title came at 220 pounds, as junior Dominyc Hovington would win by decision over Delmar’s Daniel Smullen. It was a victory that Hovington said he needed to settle down to achieve. “I was honestly a little nervous, but I had a talk with the coach and he really settled me down,” said Hovington. “I was just going to go out there for six minutes and just be aggressive, it really paid off.”
Runners up in their weight classes for Milford were junior Gavin Garcia at 132 pounds, senior Kenny VanVrost at 195 and junior Bryan Wynes at 285.
The Buccaneers would also finish atop the team standings, distancing themselves from second place Sussex Central. It was a victory that Coach Parsley was very pleased with. “We really wrestled well and that’s why we practice so hard. It’s so that we can go out there and wrestle to the best of our ability,” Parsley stated. When asked if there was anything that surprised him about the Milford showing, Parsley gave a very candid answer. “Honestly, the only thing that would surprise me is if we didn’t wrestle well,” commented Parsley. “With the talent we have on this team, we expect to do well, no matter what the situation is.”
Milford will open the regular season this Wednesday as they travel to Woodbridge.