By Kevin Eickman
In what was his final match in the gym that has been senior Anthony Diaz’s home for the last four years, the Buccaneer participated in the final match of the Henlopen Conference wrestling tournament. Diaz was matched at 285 pounds against highly regarded Caesar Rodney junior Kevin Hudson. It was a match that would turn into a test of wills, with both wrestlers leaving it all on the mat. In the end, Diaz would win in overtime, earning a 4-2 victory. It was a fitting ending for a solid tournament for the Bucs, as they had six wrestlers finish first or second. “I was very happy for Anthony today (Saturday), he works very hard at this sport and it really shows. Hudson is a fantastic wrestler and the fact that it came down to overtime really didn’t surprise me,” Milford Coach Don Parsley said. “In the end, it almost comes down to a coin flip between the two.”
Speaking with Diaz following the match, it was clear he was happy to win, but offered great respect for Hudson as well. “It was really great to win my final match here at Milford, the fans have always been supportive of me and to win here means a great deal to me,” Diaz added. “Kevin is a really great wrestler and I knew it was going to be a close match. In the end, I just tried to stay strong and wait for my chance. It took a long time to come, but once I got it I was able to get the win and the Conference title that goes with it.”
The first Buccaneer wrestler on the mat for Milford Saturday night was junior Corey Messick who battled Sussex Central’s Dylan King. In a back and forth match, Messick would find himself on the wrong end of at 3-2 decision. While the loss was a tough one to take, Parsley was still proud of how Messick performed. “When you make it to the Conference final, you have accomplished something. While he was a runner-up, he still wrestled his heart out and will be wrestling at States next weekend (at Cape Henlopen) with another chance to earn a title.”
Milford’s first victory of the night would be turned in at 120 pounds by sophomore Jack Thode. Thode would win by major decision over Smyrna’s Jamar Wells, 13-5, earning his second consecutive title. “I was happy to earn my second conference title, especially here at Milford. While this was great, we still have States ahead of us, so the season is not over yet.” Thode said.
Next on the mat for the Buccaneers would be junior Trent Grant who would face off against Sussex Central’s Mason Ankrom at 126 pounds. The match would be thriller and come down to overtime, where Grant took a 4-2 decision, which meant a lot to him. “I had wrestled him earlier this season and he was beating me 5-1, but I was able to get him with a pin.” Grant said. “I have wrestled him a lot in high school and when I pinned him it was the first time I beat him. This match I really wanted to control the pace and even though he hung tough, I was able to prove the first win wasn’t luck.
Sophomore Tim O’Hara would lose by a narrow 3-2 match to Caesar Rodney’s Patrick Wisniewski at 138 pounds. While fellow Buccaneer Gaij Copes would also lose in another one-point match 5-4 falling to Andre Curry of Cape Henlopen at 170 pounds. While the defeats were not what the Bucs were looking for, it was still a solid tournament as the team finished second overall. “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys, we had six qualify for the State tournament and there is still a chance that one or two more might get selected to participate,” Parsley said.
When asked about the roller coaster ride that the last few weeks of the season have been and with The State Individual Tournament coming up Friday and Saturday at Cape Henlopen, Parsley was straight forward about the grind. “This is what they sign up for, it’s a grind and the one’s left standing at the end are the winners. It’s a long season, but it is worth it.”
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.