The Delaware middle school wrestling season is almost here and while most programs will head into the season like it's any other year, the same can't be said for the Smyrna Middle School wrestlers. They'll be hoping to go undefeated for the 12th year in a row.
The Eagles have won 119 straight matches. Smyrna hasn't lost in 11 seasons and second-year coach Matt Bivins is hoping to continue the streak again this year.
The Smyrna Middle School Wrestling team will start the season on Monday, Dec. 9 at Millsboro.
"I think we'll be good. As long as we practice hard we should do alright," Bivins said. "The plan is to go undefeated as a team, for the new guys to enjoy it and learn something, and for the experienced guys to bring back championships from the tournament."
Seven starters are returning from last year's team.
Bivins entered his first year of coaching at SMS last year after coach Steve Stewart decided to retire after 41 years as the head coach. Even with a new coach, the Eagles still exceeded expectations. Not only did Smyrna go 10-0 in the season, they finished with four shutouts and won the season-ending middle school tournament. Moreover, the closest match of the year for Smyrna was a 66-21 victory over Phillis Wheatley.
In his second year, Bivins said he feels more settled in and still plans to keep things the same as when Stewart was in charge.
"If it isn't broke, why fix it," Bivins said.
Bivins said the students simply need to put in hard work at practice, learn the moves and use them at other practices such as at Little Wrestlers practices.
Bivins will bring some of the aspects from the state champion Smyrna High School varsity squad to the middle school program including drills and how to prepare for matches.
Bivins said the toughest matches of the year will come against Milford and the Caesar Rodney schools.
"There's always a bit of pressure when you're coaching in Smyrna," Bivins said when asked if he feels pressure to keep the win streak going. "But I'm willing to take it on."
Eighth grader Tony Wuest is one of the returning starters from last year's team. He believes the team will be better this year, especially with the new kids coming in. Wuest said he's excited to work with the new wrestlers and help them prepare for the season.
"I think we'll do good," Wuest said. "We just need to keep working hard and never stop working on what we need to do to win."
Teammate Anthony Dirubbio competed in four matches last year after another wrestler got hurt. He said it felt good to step in and help the team continue the win streak.
"I think we'll go undefeated again because we have a strong, experienced group this year," he said. "Every year we get new wrestlers thanks to the good feeder program from Little Wrestlers so I think we'll still be pretty good."
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