By TJ Millman
After a long, hard day of wrestling, the Milford Bucs found themselves trailing the Laurel Bulldogs 29-28 with only two matches left. Seniors Oscar Rosario and Khiry Hovington combined for wins by pin and major decision respectively and brought home the 38-29 victory for the Bucs. This win makes five consecutive State Championships for Milford and adds another chapter to the legacy of Milford Head Coach Don Parsley.
This championship was a different one for the Bucs. This was the first time in their five-year run that Milford did not enter the tournament as the #1 seeded Southern Conference Champion. Instead, Milford had to wrestle in 3 back-to-back-to-back matches to claim the ultimate title. This season in general has been a tougher one for the Bucs, with Milford not only losing the first, but also their second Southern Conference meet in 5 years.
“Both Laurel and Indian River beat us in the regular season in hotly-contested matches. After that, we changed a few things in the practice room, certainly our mentality, and it showed. We worked really hard to get here, and we put ourselves in a position to win it. To say we were destined to win, I don’t really know that’s the truth. Indian River and Laurel are certainly good teams and they did a great job this year. We were fortunate enough to get the rematch and redeem ourselves,” Parsley said.
Milford got wins from sophomore Gaij Copes, junior Eric Bennett, sophomore Anthony Diaz, freshman Corey Messick, senior Robbie Rosser, sophomore Dominic Feightner, senior Oscar Rosario, and senior Khiry Hovington. Milford did a good job all day of making sure that their wins were big, and that their losses cost the team a minimal amount of points.
“Everyone did a good job of getting those bonus points. Everyone was fighting to get a pin or fighting not to get pinned. That what it comes down to in state duals,” Rosser said.
One of the biggest pins of the night came from sophomore Dominic Feightner at 132 pounds. Feightner started out hesitant, but his coaches told him to start applying more pressure, and Feightner delivered with a second round pin.
“I knew it was a big match, and I knew I had to go out there and just wrestle hard. I had never wrestled the kid before, so I was a little cautious at first. It just feels amazing knowing that I could help my team win another state title,” Feightner said.
The extra cushion from Feightner’s win allowed Parsley to forfeit the match at 145, bumping Rosario up to wrestle at 152 and Hovington up to 160.
“We got pinned at 145 last time, so we decided to forfeit that match out of respect and put our team in the best position to win. Khiry pinned the kid at 152 last time, so we had confidence that Oscar could do it as well, and I had faith in Khiry at 160 to bring it home for us,” Parsley said.
Hovington’s final match everything that his coach had hoped for, with the senior showing the restraint to take the win the safe way in a 14-0 major decision.
“I wish I could have gotten the pin, but coach didn’t want me to take the risk. He said to be patient. As soon as I knew I was up 14, I was looking for those last two points, but with only a minute left in the match I just had to stay in good position and leave it up to time to get the win,” Hovington said.
Captain Robbie Rosser said it best when he said, “Champions are defined by the adversity they overcome.” This year’s team weathered many storms, on and off the mat, and they only grew closer. Now that the dust has settled, and the battle has been fought, the Milford Wrestling Family stands alone at the top, champions once again.
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