Spartans sending five to state wrestling championships

DOVER — Many of the state’s top wrestlers gathered at Dover High over the weekend to determine the best of the Henlopen Conference.

Those who wrestled their way to a top six finish in their respective weight classes advanced to this weekend’s state individual wrestling tournament at Cape Henlopen High.

Milford, which finished in third place from a team points aspect, had a pair of individual champions.

Dom Hovington won the 220-pound weight class and Kenny VanVorst took top honors at 182. Joining the two champions at the state individual tournament will be at least seven other Buccaneers that earned top six honors in the Henlopen event. Milford also had three seventh place finishers who could still wrestle at states as alternates.

Five Lake wrestlers qualified for the state individual championships. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Five Lake wrestlers qualified for the state individual championships. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

“We finished third overall, which I think is a pretty good finish,” Milford head coach Don Parsley said. “Smyrna’s No. 1, Sussex Central No. 2 and they were the top two teams in Division I. We’re in the three spot ahead of Cape (Henlopen) and all the other Northern Division schools, so I’m pleased with that performance.

“Nine guys going to states, three more finished seventh, so 12 guys in the top seven, I think is pretty good.”

Though it didn’t have any conference champions, the Lake Forest wrestling team also had a solid showing at the tournament.

Five Spartans placed top six in their weight classes to advance, which is more than Lake sent to states a season ago when it was a much more experienced team.

“It was a good tournament, our kids wrestled tough,” Lake Forest head coach Mike Hansen said. “With us being a young team this year, just to experience the Henlopen tournament… One year under your belt, to see that competition and how tough it is, that will really help give our kids valuable experience that they can use going into next year.”

Earning state championship tournament spots for Lake Forest were Seth Fleming (132, sixth place), Dean Fleming (145, fifth), Trevon Hardeman (195, fifth), Tony Williams (220, fourth) and Jordan Springer (285, fifth).

Antoun Duffy (170) and Michael Galloway (182) both finished eighth in their weight classes and are potential alternates for the state tournament.

“Realistically I try to set the bar high for those guys, and I hope they are setting high goals for themselves,” Hansen said of his state qualifiers. “I tell them ‘if you are the Henlopen five, that needs to be your state goal. There’s other tough kids upstate, you cannot discredit them. But if this is where you are in the Henlopen, it’s the toughest conference.’ Baring on how they seed the (state) tournament, we’ll see how everything falls.”

For Milford, the seven state qualifiers joining Hovington and VanVorst and their placing in the Henlopen tournament are Robbie Rosser (106, third), Alex Creasey (126, fourth), Gavin Garcia (132, fourth), Bart Dalious (145, second), Phillip Ruiz (160, sixth), Kaje Reynolds (170, sixth) and Bryan Wynes (285, second).

Milford’s potential alternates, all of which earned seventh place finishes, are Adam Funkhouser (138), Chase Taylor (152) and Eric Bennett (195).

Neither Hovington nor VanVorst were the top seeds in their weight classes, yet each emerged as a conference champion.

Hovington scored an escape in the second overtime period with top-seeded Justin Land and then kept the Polytech senior scoreless for thirty seconds to secure his championship.

“You just go hard,” Hovington said. “I’ve worked too hard to get here and finish second. It’s my first time being here and first time being a champ. It feels good.”

VanVorst’s championship match against Smyrna’s Hunter Moyer wasn’t quite as close.

Although the final score was just a 6-3 decision, the Milford senior controlled the action throughout most of the match.

“It hasn’t really hit yet, I just know I won,” said VanVorst, who wrestled at 195 most of the season meaning many of his opponents in the Henlopen tournament were new to him. “I haven’t seen many of them, maybe two or three. It doesn’t really help or hurt, it’s just looking at it like a new person every time.”

With just one week remaining in his high school wrestling career, VanVorst said he won’t change much in preparing for states.

“Just eat right, train hard, go to sleep on time,” he said. “Same thing I’ve been doing all year.”

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