The Smyrna Eagles are in the midst of yet another standout campaign, entering the week with a 7-0 team record featuring a number of top-ranked grapplers.
With the season winding down, Smyrna will be well prepared for the postseason with big matchups ahead against some top-level competition.
Smyrna clinched its seventh victory of the season as a team in their most recent outing, a 39-32 win over Maryland’s McDonogh School, the Eagles closest margin of victory so far this season. Joey Natarcola, Ryan Kelley, J.T. Davis, Mason Wilson and Tony Wuest all earned wins for Smyrna against McDonogh.
So far, the Eagles have earned out-of-conference victories over McDonogh and St. Georges Tech, as well as six victories over Henlopen Conference opponents.
Wednesday, Jan. 24, the Eagles will host one of Pennsylvania’s best squads in the nationally-ranked Malvern Prep Friars at 6:30 p.m.
Malvern Prep sits at 9-0 this season, featuring top-ranked wrestlers P.J. Crane, Michael Beard, Nick Florshutz, Dalton Harkins, Chris Hisey and Dayton DelViscio.
“Malvern is one of the top teams in the country, led by No. 2 ranked 195 pound wrestler Michael Beard, they have at least three other nationally ranked wrestlers on their squad,” said Smyrna Head Coach Kurt Howell.
The Eagles are well represented in several weight classes this year, seniors Ryan Kelly (138), Greg Baum (145), Dakota Kerr (170), Josh Dailey (182), Tony Wuest (195) and Hunter Moyer (220), along with underclassmen Joey Natarcola (106), Jaxson Al-chokhachy (113), Nick Natarcola (132) and J.T. Davis (160), all rank within the top five in their respective weight classes this season.
“We’ve wrestled a very tough schedule so far,” Howell said. “We just beat McDonogh Saturday night who placed second in the Virginia National Duals. We went to the Virginia Duals and went 1-2 losing a tight match to top ranked West Virginia team Independence. Over the winter break, we wrestled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania for the 45-team Trojan Wars tournament, where we placed second and of course the Beast of the East before that.”
Matching up against the best of the best, including Malvern Prep, gives the Eagles a great measuring stick according to Coach Howell.
“I believe it gives us a ‘who’s next?’ mentality,” Howell said. “We just wrestle and don’t think as much about the opponent. It helps us put tough local matches into perspective.”
After Wednesday's contest against Malvern Prep, Smyrna will participate in the New Year’s Brawl at Easton High School (Md.) over the weekend.
On Jan. 31, Smyrna will travel for their final road contest of the regular season against Sussex Central in a rematch of last year’s Division I Dual-Team State Championship Final at 6:30 p.m.
Smyrna will finish out the season with two-straight home meets, hosting Salesianum Feb. 2 and Caesar Rodney Feb. 3, with both matches at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s Dual-Team State Championships will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, followed by the Henlopen Conference Championships Feb. 16 and 17, and the DIAA Individual State Championships Feb. 23 and 24.