The Caesar Rodney High School wrestling team is sending 12 of its 14 wrestlers to this weekend's 2009 DIAA Individual Wrestling Championships at St. Marks. Issah Meade, 152-pound class, is leading the way for the Riders with the No. 1 seed in his class.

    After nearly three rigorous months of work, countless hours of practice and the daily struggle to make weight for the athletes, wrestling season is coming to a close this weekend.

    The 2009 DIAA Individual Wrestling Championships will take place Friday, Feb. 27, and Saturday, Feb. 28, at St. Mark’s High School.

    As usual, the Caesar Rodney High School team will be sending the bulk of its team to the tournament, with 12 of 14 wrestlers making the cut.

    Leading the way for the Riders is Issah Meade, 152, who is their only No. 1 seed after winning the Henlopen Conference Championship this past weekend and being chosen by the state’s coaches as the best in his class.

    CR head coach Dickey Howell said even though Meade missed some time this year, it was clear that he was the top contender for his weight.

    “He’s been the favorite in his weight all year,” Howell said. “When he first came back from his injury he was sluggish. Being out three weeks doesn’t ruin your life, but it takes you a little time to get back. He’s looked better and better these past few weeks.”

    Joining Meade are his Rider teammates, Kaleb LeMaire, H1 seed, 103; Kyle Condon, H3 seed, 112; Steven Jackson, H3 seed, 119; Alex Paladino, H2 seed, 125; Zach Blumenthal, H3 seed, 130; Ryan Young, H2 seed, 135; John Hobbs, H6 seed, 145; Casey Sergent, H3 seed, 160; David Melnick, H1 seed, 171; Chad McParlin, H6 seed, 215; and Josh Ferris, H1 seed, 285.

    This past weekend CR was second only to Smyrna at the Henlopen tournament, with LeMaire, Melnick and Ferris winning titles along with Meade.

    Howell said he was pleased with the outcome of the tournament, but still thinks he had some wrestlers that could’ve done better.

    In the end, however, he said it was a tough conference this year and that the tournament is about more than just winning your weight.

    “When you wrestle in a conference as tough as the Henlopen, there’s a lot of parity, and you always come away thinking you could’ve done more,” he said. “We got 12 qualifiers out of it though, and really that’s what it is, trying to set yourself up for the state tournament with the best possible seed.”

    With St. Mark’s High School entering the tournament with six of the top 14 seeds Howell said his boys might have more of an advantage then other wrestlers because they’ve already seen the Spartans in the highest level of competition yet this year.

    Just over a week ago the Riders were runners up to SMH in the dual meet state tournament, and even though they were beaten easily, Howell said it gave the Rider wrestlers a chance to learn their opponents.

    “It’s an advantage to the lesser team or lesser individual to wrestle the better individual more and more,” he said. “The more you do that the more you tend to wrestle up to that level, if you get beat by the same guy with the same moves you start to figure that out.

    “It’s to our advantage that we already got a look at them.”

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