Just a week prior to last Saturday’s State Dual Wrestling Championships held at Smyrna, Milford traveled to Smyrna with the regular season title on the line. The result wasn’t a pretty one, not only did it lose the meet, the Bucs at times lost their composure, ending up on the wrong end of a 45-25 score. Anyone who was there that night had to believe that Smyrna was by far the superior squad and there was going to be nothing anyone could do to stop it from winning its second consecutive D-I wrestling title.
Speaking with Buccaneers coach Don Parsley following the match, it was clear that he was not thrilled with the way his team had performed. The plan was to try and regroup, get back to the gym and prepare for the upcoming State Duals. Parsley stated emphatically following that Friday night loss at Smyrna. “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.”
Taking that sentiment to heart, the Bucs showed up this past Saturday determined to earn a state title. While it may have seen the deck was stacked against them, this was a Milford team with the belief that it could win it all. “Our kids came in here today believing in themselves. They learned their lesson up here last week and they were not going to let that happen again,” Parsley said.
Milford had easily dispatched Salesianum 36-34 in the semifinals, with the Bucs forfeiting the final two matches after the issue had been decided. Smyrna had come from behind against Sussex Central to earn its spot in the final.
In a championship final that would feature almost anything you could want in a wrestling meet, both teams put on a display of intestinal fortitude that will be remembered in Delaware wrestling circles for a long time to come. The meet featured three forfeits, one loss by injury and another for stalling. In the end, it came down to the final match at 152 pounds.
Milford senior Dominic Feightner would battle Smyrna sophomore Bryce Mullen, with the winner of the evening’s final match determining who the State Championship team would be. Just a week earlier, Mullen had pinned Feightner in just 1:14 seconds. As the match began Feightner held his own during the early part of the match, Mullen however; would get a fall and take a 2-0 lead. Each time it looked as if Mullen would find a way to finish Feightner, the Milford wrestler would find a way to stay in the match.
While he was staying in the match, the clock was ticking down on Feightner. Incredibly in the last 25 seconds of the final period, Feightner got a reversal and the two points that went with it. In fact, as time expired, Feightner came tantalizingly close to gaining the winning points as time expired. With the score knotted at two, the match would be headed towards sudden death overtime.
Mullen regained his composure and was able to get a takedown and the two points that went with it to gain the 36-34 victory for Smyrna. While the defeat may have been a bitter pill to swallow, Milford had given everything it had and left it all on the mat and had nothing to be ashamed of.
“I could not be prouder of this team. They gave it everything they had and, in the end, we came up just short,” Parsley said. “When you take a look at the way Dom battled in that final match, the incredible effort he gave, you have to be in awe of him. It wasn’t just him it was the whole team. This was one of the best matches I have ever seen, it was incredible. Of course, you want to win, but we can hold our heads up high on what we did tonight,” Parsley said.
Wrestling season is far from over as the individual Conference and State tournaments are still to come. Milford will host the Henlopen Championships this weekend, beginning Friday night and concluding on Saturday. With a deep Henlopen Conference, expect lots of quality matches over those two days.
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