The team victory that Sussex Central’s wrestling team put together on Wednesday night had a lot of different elements in it that combined to make it a feel-good evening all the way around for the Golden Knights.
There was Jeremy West’s 100th-career win in the 132-pound weight class, Cole Elliott’s meet-clinching triumph at 145 after missing two years due to injuries and a barrage of three-consecutive pins recorded by lightweights Nino Susi, Jack Brown and Morgan Mears that paved the way to the win.
In all, Sussex Central recorded four falls and walked away victorious in nine of the 14 weight classes to pull away for a 40-25 victory over Cape Henlopen in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division dual meet.
Perhaps it was the trio of falls in a row that turned out to be the most impressive for the Golden Knights.
It took Susi just one minute, 39 seconds at 106, Brown only 34 seconds at 113 and Mears went 4:16 at 120 to record falls that helped push Sussex Central into the lead. Brown’s pin gave the Golden Knights a 21-16 lead they never relinquished as they captured seven of the final nine weight classes.
Sussex Central is not currently ranked among the top five teams in Division I by The News Journal and that’s just fine with West – for now.
“I don’t mind staying under the radar because then we can just sneak up from behind,” said West, a senior. “I don’t mind any of that because its motivation for us, that’s all that is. Hearing the same stuff every week now where we’re going to get knocked off is just more fuel to the fire for us each and every day in the practice room.”
West earned his milestone victory by winning a 6-3 decision over Elliott Young. He held on despite lacerating his forehead and having to get it bandaged in the final period.
“That’s been one of my goals since my freshman year really since they’ve put the 100-win list up on the wall at the high school,” said West, “that’s kind of always been one of my goals since I’ve been wrestling, to be one of those names so it felt really, really good.”
It also felt pretty good for Elliott, who managed to eke out a 2-1 decision over JJ Currie at 145 to give Sussex Central a 37-19 margin that clinched the team victory with two bouts remaining. Elliott missed his sophomore season with a shoulder injury and then missed his junior season with a torn ACL.
Elliott said it feels great to be back again.
“I’ve been wrestling stiff, I’ve been wrestling nervous and this is my first year back after two years of injury and I can honestly say this is the first night that I’ve actually opened up and felt comfortable again on the mat,” Elliott said. “It was intense. I was wrestling as hard as I could and I kept looking up seeing what [the score] was. I just went blank and I wrestled.”
Keith Jones (182) also posted a fall for the Golden Knights, who were coming off an impressive team win at the Delcastle Invitational last weekend.
Justin Lopez (170), Andre Flowers (195) and Aaron Mattioni (160) all won by pins for Cape Henlopen.
Vikings coach Chris Mattioni says he can see his team improving, but it’s just not quite there yet.
“We’ve got good core group that is tough, we’re just young in the low weights,” Mattioni said. “I think we’re closing the gap, but we’ve certainly got our work to do.
“A lot of it is little mistakes that when you wrestle good competition like the Sussex Centrals, the Caesar Rodneys and the Smyrnas, those little mistakes cost you big points. But we’re progressing.”
So is Sussex Central, albeit under the radar – which has been just fine with the Golden Knights.