Caesar Rodney’s wrestlers rang in 2018 by taking the year’s first state title, breaking a five-year drought.
As a team, the Riders finished last regular season 10-2, earning the No. 3 seed in the dual team bracket. They rode it all the way to the Division I Dual Team state championship, their first title since 2012.
“We have the same goal every year, and that’s to get better every single day,” said head coach Dan Rigby last season. “We really try to focus on the process of getting better and the outcomes will show eventually.”
As the third seed, CR had to defeat three opponents to hoist the trophy, including their toughest task, taking down No. 1 Smyrna in the finals.
CR began their journey in the opening round, defeating Blue Hen Flight A champions St. Georges Tech, 46-21, powered by pinfall victories from Abdullah, Sam Ervin and Cameron Hayes.
In the semifinals, the Riders battled it out with Salesianum, winning 38-25. Abdullah, Hicks, Brenden Holder, Kevin Hudson, Patrick Wisniewski, Primo and Dean all came away with decision wins, while Hayes and Anderson had pinfall wins to help.
CR and Smyrna traded wins early on, until late wins by Michael Primo, Cameron Hayes, Ben Anderson and Jackson Dean put the Riders in the driver’s seat. Dean’s pinfall win at 145 gave the Riders a 30-20 lead with two matches left.
Smyrna’s Greg Baum won by pin over CR’s Riley Tracy to make the score 30-26, setting up a nerve-wracking finale.
With the title on the line, Mikel Abdullah held off Smyrna’s JT Davis, falling to the Eagle standout by decision, but avoiding a pin, technical fall or major decision to give the Riders their ninth title since 1993.
The accolades kept coming in the DIAA Individual Wrestling championships, where Hayes took the state title at 126. Hayes, the No. 1 seed in the bracket, knocked off Hodgson’s Liam Jordan (technical fall), Tower Hill’s Ky Jacobs (technical fall), Middletown’s Willem Carl (decision 7-0) and Cape Henlopen’s Anthony Caruso (decision 3-1) in the finals.
Rigby was named the 2018 Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year after leading the team to an outstanding season on the mat. Hayes, Dean and Hudson were all named to the 2018 All-Henlopen Conference wrestling team.
“We want to be the team that’s always attacking and scoring and that’s really our own goal,” Rigby said about this team.