GEORGETOWN — It was only the fourth match of the afternoon.
But when Hunter Moyer saw his opponent’s shoulders hit the mat, the Smyrna High sophomore knew the Eagles were going to win the Henlopen Conference Northern Division wrestling title again.
“Coach told me before that match it would swing the momentum of the whole dual meet,” Moyer said. “I knew right away when I got that pin that this meet was ours.”
Moyer was right.
Moyer’s pin over Michael Wright started a run of seven straight Smyrna victories as the Eagles cruised to a 49-13 win at Sussex Central on Saturday afternoon. Smyrna clinched its fourth consecutive Henlopen North regular season championship as the Eagles improved to 5-0 in the division.
Moyer, a 182-pounder, was one of five Smyrna wrestlers to earn pins. Tony Wuest (195), Nick Natarcola (106), Chris Begatto (113) and Chase Archangelo (132) also had pins for six Smyrna points.
The contest between the two remaining unbeatens in the Henlopen North looked to be living up to the hype as a close match through the first three bouts. The Golden Knights won a pair of tight decisions for a 6-4 advantage.
Moyer fell behind in the first round, giving up a takedown. He worked his way to an escape and found himself on top midway through the second round, where we has able to maneuver for a pin in 3:14.
“You’ve got to credit Hunter Moyer’s pin for the momentum,” said Smyrna coach Kurt Howell. “On paper that was a swing match that could be three (points) either way, and anytime you get a pin in a close match, that just lights everybody up. Hunter Moyer, not only is he holding his own, but he’s winning matches and that was a big one tonight.”
“I just wanted to go out there and attack hard,” Moyer said. “Everything I did, I wanted to do it full speed. I wanted to go out there and take what was mine.”
Wuest, another sophomore, needed just 1:13 to record his pin in the next match. That gave Smyrna a 16-6 lead with two key swing matches coming up at 220 and 285.
Smyrna’s 220-pounder, senior Jake Mitchell, found himself trailing 3-2 in the third period. Mitchell kept attacking and the referee awarded two stall points allowing Mitchell to squeeze out a 4-3 decision.
“You’ve got to make it obvious that the guy is not there to wrestle you and he just chased the guy everywhere,” Howell said. “They didn’t have a choice but to make the stalling call. Jake was relentless.”
The heavyweight bout was also close, going to overtime.
Terren Carter was able to ride out his opponent in the fifth period, then pick up a point for an escape with 10 seconds left in the sixth period. Carter earned a two-point takedown as time expired for good measure and a 4-1 decision in the tiebreaker.
It was the second Saturday in a row Carter won a key match in overtime for the Eagles.
“He’s done that a few times,” Howell said. “When we were in Virginia he was losing by three points against McDonogh and he got a four-point move in the last seconds. He’s a gamer, I don’t know what else to say.”
The Golden Knights didn’t win a match again until Rashad Stratton’s 7-2 decision at 126. By that time, the Eagles had clinched with a 40-9 lead.
Smyrna earned the maximum amount of 18 points combined from the 106, 113 and 120 matches thanks to Natarcola’s second-round pin, a pin in 1:28 by Begatto and a Sussex Central forfeit at 120. Archangelo also won his match via a first-round pin (1:52) and Nate Bryant recorded the final victory of the afternoon for Smyrna with a decision at 138.
“When we rolled around to 106 I was like, ‘O.K. I think we’re going to roll now,’” Howell said. “I felt comfortable. I was pretty sure that my lightweights were going to do so damage.”
All of Sussex Central’s four wins were decisions except Justin Bennett’s 10-2 major-decision in the final match of the day at 145 pounds. Brandon Bautista (152) and Lucas Hudson (170) joined Stratton as Golden Knights who won with decisions.
Sussex Central now heads to Caesar Rodney on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. contest that will determine who will finish second in the Henlopen North. All three of Smyrna, Sussex Central and CR are expected to make the six-team field for the Division I dual meet tournament, held at Smyrna on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“It was a whooping but I’ve been whooped before and come back and beat them” said Sussex Central Phil Shultie. “We’ve got CR Wednesday and William Penn Friday then we’re hoping we’ll meet Smyrna again on (next) Tuesday night. We’ll wait and see what happens.”