A huge crowd came to Cape Henlopen High on Saturday night to see if Brent Fleetwood could become the 10th wrestler in Delaware high school history to win four consecutive state titles.
Fleetwood delivered – and he delivered quickly.
The Smyrna senior piled up the points against Sanford freshman Luke McDonough, earning a 15-0 technical fall in just 1 minute and 48 seconds. When it was over, he received a standing ovation at the DIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships.
“It’s a very good feeling. I feel … I don’t know, I guess a little choked up,” Fleetwood said. “I’m glad to go out on top.”
Fleetwood also received one more victory lap from Kurt Howell. The Smyrna coach – himself a four-time champ at Newark from 1983-86 – traditionally carries his wrestlers around the mat immediately after a state championship. This one had to be the sweetest ever.
“Brent is a special kid, obviously,” Howell said. “I feel like I changed his diapers with his parents. I’ve been with him since he was so little. He’s been really special to this program.”
Fleetwood received a large ovation during his introduction but quickly locked in on the task at hand.
“Wrestling is a very intense sport, so you always feel the pressure,” he said. “When you get to that level where you’re in the finals, you’re going to feel the pressure with the audience and all the other things. But you don’t think about the pressure. You just think about that match.”
The senior finished his high school career with a 163-18 record, and the never-ending respect of his coach.
“At this point, he knows what he needs and he lets me know if he needs anything,” Howell said. “I don’t think he needed much through this tournament. He’s just pretty self-reliant, and he got himself ready.”
It was the first of three consecutive titles by Smyrna wrestlers, as seniors Othniel Edmond (126) and Tyler Carney (132) followed Fleetwood (120) as winners. It was Carney’s second championship, but Edmond’s first. Then again, it was the first time Edmond really had a chance.
“For his first three years, he’s been behind Tyler and Brent, almost his whole career,” Howell said. “Then he finally got a chance to start this year, so it’s nice for him to come out here and win a state championship. It says a lot of good things about being able to bide your time.”
Delcastle senior Brandon Wolfe wrapped up a 48-1 season and made history with a 5-4 decision over Cape Henlopen’s Justin Lopez at 170 pounds. Wolfe became the Cougars’ first state champion since Dave Rhoades in 1979.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t really explain all the mixed emotions I have,” Wolfe said. “… Coming into this year, I knew that this was mine, that I was ready for it. I was a little nervous, but I knew all the hard work in the summer would pay off.”
Caesar Rodney’s Zack Parker enjoyed the most dominant run through the tournament, pinning his four opponents in a combined 3 minutes and 33 seconds for his second straight title at 285. He dispatched Cape Henlopen’s Nick Carroll in 58 seconds in the finals.
“I only have one move on top, and I’m just really good at it,” Parker said. “I’ve just been catching everybody with it. I don’t think I did anything differently all weekend.”
Aaron Mattioni got the home crowd fired up, grinding out a 5-3 decision over defending champion Bubba Mancini of Salesianum at 195. The Cape Henlopen fans were at a fever pitch through the third period of the senior’s upset victory.
“It feels amazing. I’ve never placed at states before, so to come back this year and actually win it is just amazing,” Mattioni said. “I worked hard every day and my teammates pushed me, sometimes almost to the breaking point.”
Thomas Ott kept the home fans screaming in the following match, but his outcome was a little more expected. The Cape senior won his third consecutive 220-pound title with a 10-4 decision over John Miller of Salesianum.
“Maybe last year I felt more pressure,” Ott said. “But this year, I’ve been able to deal with the pressure, knowing that guys are gunning for me every time they wrestle me.”
Caesar Rodney’s Tony Scarfo (145) became a two-time champion. CR’s Nick Klink (106), Sussex Tech’s JuWan Massey (113), Caravel’s Clint Ferrazzo (138), Woodbridge’s Willie Davis (152), St. Georges’ Michael Albanese (160) and Salesianum’s Daulton Gregory (182) also won state titles.
It was another banner year for the Henlopen Conference, which tied last year’s record by winning 10 of the 14 weight classes.