This weekend’s DIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships sees five local wrestlers — four from Caesar Rodney, one from Polytech — heading in as the top seeds and favorites to win their weight classes.
The wrestling season is set to come to a close this weekend, but not before the best grapplers in the state get together one last time for a chance to own the right at calling themselves the best in their respective weight classes.
Five locals will be favored in the DIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships held Feb. 25 and 26 at St. Mark’s High School, as Caesar Rodney High School’s Micah Hight, 112 pounds, Kaleb LeMaire, 119 pounds, Stephen Jackson, 135 pounds, and Issah Meade, 160 pounds, as well as Polytech High School’s Artis Thorne, 189 pounds, are all No. 1 seeds.
All five wrestlers won their weight classes in last weekend’s Henlopen Conference Championships, and all enter states with a different storyline.
For Meade, a senior, this is the fourth state tournament he’s participated in, but the first at 160 pounds. He won the title at 152 pounds in his sophomore and junior years.
Even though he’s been in this spot before, he said now is no time to get complacent, especially since he has the chance to be a three-time titleholder.
“I’m going in looking to dominate each and every opponent,” Meade said. “It’s a little bit of pressure on me but I just try to think of it as going in and having fun, and hopefully getting to be in the elite class of three-time state champions.”
While Meade is going for his third title, wrestlers like Jackson, a junior, and Hight, a freshman, are going for their first.
Jackson wrestled at 125 pounds in last year’s tournament, placing third, and is hoping to collect his first championship this weekend after jumping up two weight classes.
Being the favorite to win, he said, is new territory for him and something he has to adjust to as far as his mental preparation.
“It makes me feel more confident, but most of the time I’d rather be the underdog,” Jackson said. “I can’t get sloppy and have to keep my mind on why I’m there.”
Hight, in just his first tournament, was seeded No. 1 based on the stellar rookie season he had at both 103 and 112 pounds.
He said he’s drawn off of the knowledge of some of his teammates that have been there before, especially the ones sharing top seeds with him in this year’s championship.
Coming off of an injury, Hight won’t be able to taper off and rest this week in preparation, citing that his biggest challenge would be adjusting to that odd schedule.
Still, he said his sights are set on winning this year and every year that follows.
“It’d be great to win because I’m just starting out as a freshman and this is my first tournament,” Hight said. “It’d be a great experience to be in the group of great wrestlers that won titles four times in a row.”
LeMaire is going for his second straight title after winning at 103 pounds last year, while Thorne is looking for his second in a row at 189 pounds. Neither wrestler could be reached for comment.
IF YOU GO
WHAT DIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships
WHEN 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, and 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26
WHERE St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington
COST $5 for Friday, $6 for round two, $7 for consolation finals and finals on Saturday
MORE INFO http://diaa.ticketleap.com
2011 TOP SEEDS IN DIAA INDIVIDUAL WRESTLING STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
103 — Brent Fleetwood, Smyrna High School
112 — Micah Hight, Caesar Rodney High School
119 — Kaleb LeMaire, Caesar Rodney High School
125 — Parker Jones, Brandywine High School
130 — Tyler Pendergast, St. Mark’s High School
135 — Stephen Jackson, Caesar Rodney High School
140 — Cody Broomall, Sussex Central High School
145 — Jeremy Miller, Sussex Central High School
152 — Codey Combs, Sussex Central High School
160 — Issah Meade, Caesar Rodney High School
171 — Josh Snook, St. Mark’s High School
189 — Artis Thorne, Polytech High School
215 — Joey Spicer, Sussex Central High School
285 — Patrick Cassidy, St. Mark’s High School
Email Brian Citino at firstname.lastname@example.org