The Smyrna wrestling team suffered a rare setback Saturday night in their home gymnasium, falling to the McDonogh School (MD) 43-23 in the "Battle of the Eagles."
McDonogh came into the match with an 8-0 record, against some tough, Maryland competition. Smyrna, meanwhile, has had a successful season to date against in-state competition. The Maryland Eagles also turned in a credible performance in the Beast of the East Tournament at the University of Delaware in Newark last month, coming in sixth place overall out of 102 area high schools. The Smyrna team came in 27th place, the highest of all Delaware schools.
"This was a good match for our team at this time of the year, I scheduled McDonogh now because I wanted to challenge my team," said Smyrna coach Kurt Howell. "I'm happy with what we accomplished against a team that's in the Top 25 in the country, with three nationally ranked wrestlers. We were a little overmatched, but we wrestled with our hearts and we let it all out on the mats tonight," said Howell.
"Sometime you win without your best effort, sometimes you lose with a tremendous effort, and I think we learned a lot about wrestling against McDonogh tonight," he said.
McDonogh won the battle Saturday night on the strength of their ability to achieve pins against a formidable Smyrna squad. The Maryland Eagles recorded pins in the 106, 132, 138, 145, 152 and 220 pound divisions, a dominating victory.
Smyrna recorded victories in the 113, 120, 126, 170 and 182 lb. categories. "I am very happy with Tyler Carney's performance at 126 lbs. He gave a great effort, kept his cool and did what he needed, in order to get the win in overtime, and he gave our team a great lift," said Howell.
The coach was also impressed with the work of Jarren Wilson in the 160 weight class. "Jarren didn't win, but he wrestled really hard. I could see his opponent change tactics in the middle of the match because of Jarren's effort," stated Howell.
Kudos were also given to Ron Wuest who won a close decision at 182."He did so many things right, and coming back and winning in overtime by wearing down his opponent, said the Smyrna coach.
McDonogh coach Joe Bakewell was gracious in victory and said he was impressed with Smyrna's program. "We love coming here to wrestle. It looks like half the town is here, and they're are very knowledgeable about wrestling," he said. McDonogh is a private school in Maryland with students and wrestlers from several surrounding states.
"We worked very, very hard tonight, so I'm pleased with what we accomplished, and I'm proudto be part of the Smyrna community," said Howell.
Smyrna is now 1-1 in dual meets, with their next match scheduled for Wednesday, January 9th on the road against Dover High, beginning at 7 p.m.