CAMDEN — In the first match of the night, freshman Mikel Abdullah displayed the hard-working attitude coach Dan Rigby says has become the identity of the Caesar Rodney High wrestling team.
Junior Bobby Stevenson drove that point home later in the night to help clinch a dual meet victory for the Riders.
Stevenson’s overtime win at 126 pounds and Abdullah’s pin while he was trailing in his 160-pound match highlighted a 46-18 Caesar Rodney victory over Polytech on Wednesday night in Henlopen Conference Northern Division action. The Riders improved to 2-1 in the division and 2-1 overall.
“We demonstrated that we’re a blue-collar type of team,” Rigby said. “It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but our guys have a lot of heart and they grinded out a victory against a tough team. We didn’t know how it would go, but it was a blue-collar win. I think that’s what this team’s identity is developing into.”
Senior Dante Walker (195) and junior Mason Harrington (120) added pins in the winning effort. The Riders also were helped by senior Chase Mounts’ major decision at 138 pounds, decisions by senior Andrew Sudler (170), sophomore Cameron Hayes (113) and junior Cody Stevenson (132) plus two forfeits by Polytech.
“This team has come a long way,” Bobby Stevenson said. “We come out here and fight to be the best team that we can be. That’s all you can ask is to keep fighting and bring the intensity up high.”
Polytech (0-1) was led by pins by Avery Mayan (182) and Matthew Land (145). Its other match winners were Justin Land (285) and Austin Price (106), both via decisions.
With the victory, Caesar Rodney avenged a 38-29 defeat to the Panthers from a season ago.
Rigby credited Abdullah’s first match with lighting a fire under the Riders right away. He trailed 7-2 in the second period but was able to maneuver into position to record his pin as the CR bench hopped up in celebration.
“He didn’t give up just like how he wrestles in the practice room.” Rigby said. “That was a really good momentum swing for us.”
Through the first seven matches, the Riders led 21-12 and had won four of the matches compared to three by Polytech. That’s when the Riders took the next five contests to pull ahead and ended up winning six of the last seven bouts.
The run included Bobby Stevenson’s match where he finished the first three periods tied 5-5. He then earned a two-point takedown 30 seconds into the first overtime period.
“A lot of times we get in there and keep attacking,” Stevenson said. “That’s what we do in practice. The gameplan was to come out here and keep fighting, don’t give up.”
Rigby also pointed out Mounts’ 10-2 major decision as a step in the right direction for the Riders. Mounts had struggled with his matchup earlier in the year, but gave a more convincing performance on Wednesday night.
“I like matches like that where you can see the progress that we’re making,” Rigby said. “Guys are doing the right things and it pays off.”