Smyrna – Just two nights after watching a 15 point lead evaporate in a 34-30 loss against Cape Henlopen. Smyrna head coach Aaron Harris looked out onto the mat Friday night with the Eagles trailing Milford by 20 with four bouts left.
Smyrna’s fortunes were reversed on Friday night as Shaun Atkinson (182), Tyler Downward (195) and Kael Howell (220) recorded consecutive pins to set up the heroics of Chijioke Eule in the Eagles 36-35 Henlopen Conference Northern Division victory over Milford.
“I tell the kids it’s all about getting your hand raised,” Harris said.
The match began at 106 pounds where the Bucs Emily Thode hit a lateral drop throw midway through the first period for the pin. Vincent Jenkins received a forfeit at 113 pounds as Milford jumped out to a 12-0 lead.
The Eagles answered with a pair of pins by Gabe Giampietro (120) and Quantez Watkins (126) before the Bucs’ Jack Thode would put Milford back on top with a pin at 132 pounds.
138 pounds featured two of the top ranked wrestlers in the state according to the Delaware Live Sports wrestling rankings.
Smyrna’s number two ranked Jamar Wells won a 5-2 decision over number five ranked Aaron Briscoe as the Eagles cut the Milford lead to 18-15.
“I told Jamar before the match to be prepared to win a one point match, be prepared to win in overtime and go out on the mat with that mentality and win it,” Harris said.
The Bucs responded, reeling off four straight victories beginning at 145 pounds with Hunter Durham winning a 10-3 decision over Jesse Dixon. Ryan Mejia recorded a pin at 152 pounds stretching Milford’s lead to 27-15.
Milford’s Averi Copes ranked number two at 152 pounds bumped up to 160 pounds where he and Brandon West battled. With Copes leading 5-3 in the third period he executed a Granby Roll and finished with a pin in 5:17.
After the match the two wrestlers stood nose to nose exchanging words before referee Justin Cressler could intervene and separate the two, but Milford was then penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct causing the deduction of a team point and making the score 32-15 in favor of the Bucs.
Tim O’Hara ranked number three at 160 also bumped up a weight class for Milford and won a 9-5 decision over Derek Davis and extending the Bucs lead to 35-15.
Smyrna’s three pins from 182 through 220 set the stage for the final bout of the night as Eule and Jayden Morton stepped on the mat at 285 pounds.
The two wrestlers delivered a thriller to end the hotly contested dual as Eule leading 4-2 with 25 seconds left scored a takedown and a set of nearfall points to win 9-2 as Smyrna edged Milford 36-35.
Eule walked off the mat to the chant of “Chi Chi” by the Smyrna crowd.
“It feels amazing honestly, I never thought I would get to the point where I would be wrestling varsity. Right now I am just so proud to be me and to get here,” Eule said.
Harris said he was proud of Eule not just for his win tonight, but sticking with wrestling and being able to have the chance he had.
“Chi Chi is the testament for staying in the park, Chi Chi was at one time our fifth or sixth string heavyweight, but due to injuries and kids quitting he stuck around. I never thought I would have to turn to Chi Chi to win a match, but I am proud I did and would do it again in a minute,” Harris said.
Smyrna improves to 2-1 on the season and will host Wm. Penn on Monday, January 17. Milford suffered their first loss of the season and dropped to 5-1 they will compete at the Cavalier Duals at Middletown High School on Saturday, January 15.
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