DOVER — Aaron Harris never pictured himself in this position.
Yet here he is, ready to coach against his alma mater.
The Dover coach will lead the Senator wrestling team tonight as it hosts crosstown rival Caesar Rodney at 7 p.m. in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division clash. Harris, in his first year at Dover, graduated from Caesar Rodney in 1997.
And for the first time in a while, the matchup has big postseason implications. It reminds Harris of what it was like back in the mid 1990s.
Dover is 4-2 overall so far, a year after finishing 5-8.
“I don’t believe in coming into a down program and, because they’re down, going with the punches,” Harris said. “We come in, work hard and we should gun for everybody. It’ll be great if we’re able to have a competitive match against CR like how it was back when I was in school.”
Dover enters tonight’s contest having won three in a row. The Senators’ two losses are to division rivals Smyrna and Polytech, who are both undefeated against instate opposition.
The Senators are coming off a season where they finished 10th at the Henlopen Conference Tournament.
“I attribute it to buy in,” said Harris on the turnaround. “Once you buy in to what your coaching staff has going on, you get better. The kids have bought in right from the beginning. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re going to get there.”
“There’s definitely a buzz,” he added. “People are peeking in the window and are watching the guys bleed, sweat and cry to see how hard we work. There’s a buzz going around.”
The CR match is in the middle of a two-week stretch that sees Dover facing many of the top Henlopen programs.
Dover earned a 35-27 victory over Lake Forest on Wednesday and travels to reigning Division II state champion Milford on Monday (4 p.m.). The year wraps up with two North teams who are also vying for one of the six spots in the Division I state tournament, as Dover hosts Cape Henlopen on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and Sussex Central (4:30 p.m.) next Friday.
“It’s a very big week and could actually set our path to state tournament if we beat CR,” Harris said. “Even if we happen to lose, we can still move forward because next week we have another big week with Milford, Cape and Sussex Central. So these two weeks are big for us.”
Henlopen meet switched
The individual Henlopen Conference wrestling championships will now take place at Sussex Central on Friday, Feb. 20 and Saturday, Feb. 21.
The two-day event was originally scheduled to be hosted by Caesar Rodney.
It had been hosted by Milford the past few seasons.
• Smyrna will honor the 1994 and 2005 state championship teams before its match at home against Sussex Central tonight (7 p.m.).
• The Caesar Rodney-St. Mark’s dual meet, originally scheduled for Jan. 14 at Caesar Rodney, has been moved to the final day of the season on Saturday. Feb. 14 at St Mark’s at noon.
• Kody Stevens of Polytech returned from a knee injury on Tuesday against Sussex Central. He hadn’t wrestled since Jan. 7, but still won his match at 132 pounds via an 11-2 decision.
Polytech is 8-0 in dual meets headed into tonight when it hosts Sussex Tech at 5 p.m.
• Tyreq Nelson of Woodbridge won his 100th career match on Wednesday with a 3-2 decision at 145 pounds in a dual meet against Caesar Rodney. He is the fourth Blue Raider to achieve 100 wins.
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached
at email@example.com or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.