Nothing is worse than having the lead in a competition and losing it close to the end. That’s how the story went for the Sussex Central wrestling team at the 2015 Bob Rowe Memorial Classic.
At the end of day one Friday, Central was in first place in overall points, leading tough teams like Polytech and Sussex Tech. The goal line was in sight, but Central couldn’t make it there first. Instead they came in third.
Although his team did not win the tournament, head coach Phil Shultie was pleased with the 203.5 points Central earned with their performance.
“I was really happy,” he said. “I think every kid on our team placed except for one. Overall, I’m really impressed with what we did.”
Central had the opportunity to win four championships, but only one of the four wrestlers accomplished that. One of the wrestlers who placed second was Blake Chambers in the 145-pound weight class.
Going in to the final, expectations from the fans were high because in the two previous bouts Chambers had wrestled in, he won by Major Decisions and had not given up a single point. Chambers’ opponent, Woodbirdge’s Tyreq Nelson, was a familiar foe to him, as they have faced each other a few times before.
“Nelson is very tough,” Shultie said. “Every time they’ve wrestled Nelson has beaten him, but Blake has gotten closer each time. He’s closed the gap and that’s the key.”
Shultie’s statement was not wrong, because even though Chambers lost the match, he came very close to beating Nelson. He almost pulled off a surprise victory when he beautifully, and quickly, reversed one of Nelson’s charges into an extremely close near fall. A near fall that would have won him first place and, perhaps more importantly, a victory over a rival.
“Nelson is No. 1 in the state,” Chambers said. “He was just a lot stronger and faster than my previous opponents, and he’s got a lot of heart.”
Chambers said during their last match, he lost in a decision 8-3, but this time he managed to drag Nelson into overtime, and only lost 8-6.
When asked if he thinks if he can beat Nelson the next time they wrestle, Chambers said, “I definitely hope so. I can see it coming. I have high hopes.”
Shultie said Chambers will likely face Nelson a few more times this year, like at War on the Shore. So long as Chambers keeps getting more confident in each successive match, he’s happy.