Of the 14 weight classes competing at the DIAA Individual State Tournament at Cape Henlopen High School on Saturday, Feb. 27, the Henlopen Conference would claim 10 of them as state champions.
Conference champions Smyrna High School had three wrestlers take the crown, with Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen and Sussex Central high schools all finishing with two state champs and Woodbridge taking the cake at heavyweight. Sanford, Salesianum, Middletown and Newark high schools were the only non-Henlopen teams with a state champion.
Locally, Sussex Central senior Justin Bennet defended his No. 1 ranking at 145 in a tight match against Milford’s Barton Dalious. The title was redemption for Bennet, who had come up just short at the championships during his junior campaign at 152. Bennet’s teammate, junior Brandon Bautista, racked up the second title for the Golden Knights at the tournament, finishing No. 1 at 160 after entering the tournament at No. 2.
For the second year in a row, Indian River junior Zeke Marcozzi claimed the third-place spot for the Indians. Entering as the No. 4 seed in the 160 bracket, Marcozzi started Round 1 by going up against No. 13 Jordan Washam (A.I. duPont) on Friday, Feb. 26, advancing to the quarterfinals with a convincing 8-2 decision.
He’d take down No. 5 Robert Bove (Woodbridge) in a 12-7 decision that same night, earning a trip to the semi-finals against No. 1 seed and reigning state champion Kalen Wilson (Smyrna). Wilson got the best of that matchup in a 5-0 decision but would go on to fall to No. 3 Cory Lawson (Cape Henlopen) in the state championship match.
Marcozzi, however, was sent to the consolation bracket to vie for third place. He first took down No. 6 Blake Chambers from Sussex Central in a 13-0 major decision, and went on to clinch the third place title in a 5-2 decision against Ben Froelich from Salesianum.
With Wilson set to graduate, Marcozzi could get the shot to take on Lawson at next year’s championships, with both of them headed into their senior seasons.
Indian River junior Jared Arlett was sidelined for the tournament after being seeded No. 6 overall in the 126 bracket, and senior Mitchell Bolton made his first appearance at states for the Indians. Bolton entered the No. 13 seed at 113, falling to No. 3-ranked Spencer Hahn (Polytech) in a 9-5 decision.
2016 DIAA Individual State Champions:
106: Anthony Caruso (Cape Henlopen)
113: Cameron Hayes (Caesar Rodney)
120: Gregory Baum (Smyrna)
126: Dante Immediato (Middletown)
132: Chase Archangelo (Smyrna)
138: Andrew Brooks (Sanford)
145: Justin Bennett (Sussex Central)
152: Brandon Bautista (Sussex Central)
160: Cory Lawson (Cape Henlopen)
170: Larsen Wilson (Smyrna)
182: Joseph Miller (Salesianum)
195: Michael Clavier (Caesar Rodney)
220: Nazr Roberson (Newark)
285: Dominique Pierce (Woodbridge).