It was a long-shot coming in that the Milford Buccaneers wrestling team would defeat the undefeated Smyrna Eagles this past Friday night at Smyrna. Smyrna has been a dominating force in Division I for years and Milford, as the new kids on the block, had their work cut out for them. In the final regular season meet of the season and with the Henlopen North regular season on the line, Milford was simply not up to the task in front of a raucous Senior Night crowd. The Buccaneers ended up on the wrong side of a 45-25 score.
Smyrna got out of the gate quickly as freshman Emily Thode (106) was pinned just 33 seconds into the first match of the night. It was the first of six wins by Fall on the evening for the Eagles. Next up was an Eagle win by decision over junior Corey Messick (113). The match was targeted as one of the toss-up matches on the evening. With Messick still working his way back from illness, he lost 5-2 as he extended Smyrna’s advantage.
Milford got their first win as sophomore Jack Thode (120) won by major decision. The Buccaneers took their only lead in the match as junior Trenton Grant (126) won by fall.
“We knew it was going to be a real challenge coming in here tonight, it’s not easy going up against the number one ranked team in the State,” Coach Don Parsley stated. “They are a force and with it being senior night for them, we knew they would be extra motivated.”
After gaining the advantage, the hammer fell hard on the Buccaneers. Smyrna went on a five match run, with four of them coming by pin. When the dust had settled on the five matches, the Buccaneers found themselves in a 27 point hole.
“Once they seized the momentum like that there wasn’t too much we could do to stop it,” Parsley stated.
The good news for Milford was that senior Gaij Copes returned to action and was able to gain a pin at 170 pounds. Buccaneer junior Rafael Mejia also won by pin at 182. Milford gained their final victory at 285 pounds as senior Anthony Diaz won by decision to close out the evening’s festivities. The decision to wrestle Diaz at 285 was met with a little bit of criticism as the crowd had anticipated a match at 220 against highly regarded Hugo Harp.
“If things break a certain way, those two guys could probably meet three times over the next couple of weeks [State Duals, Henlopen Conference Championships and State Individual Championships],” Parsley said. “I really didn’t see a need to put Diaz out there with the meet already decided.”
While there was no doubt that the loss hurt, it did little to change the Buccaneers chances in the State Dual meets, which start this Wednesday. Earlier in the week Milford defeated Caesar Rodney on the road 35-29, locking them into one of the top two seeds. With the loss to Smyrna, Milford will host Sussex Tech as the two seed, with matches starting at 7 PM.
The winner of that match will travel up to Smyrna for the semi-finals and finals on Saturday. Milford is hoping to advance and get another crack at Smyrna with a victory.
“The bottom line is we learned a lot about ourselves tonight. We were in a hostile environment and really felt the pressure, we gained some valuable experience tonight and we hope to improve on it,” Parsley said. “In the post-season everyone starts at 0-0.”
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