After losing to its biggest rival in Smyrna High School this week, the Caesar Rodney High School wrestling team is trying to refocus and ready itself for a busy week that includes the conference and both state tournaments.

Dickey Howell, head coach of the Caesar Rodney High School wrestling team, was not too pleased the day after what he called his team’s biggest match of the season.

The Riders (7-3, 4-2) visited their biggest rival, Smyrna (9-1, 5-0), Feb. 17 and lost 39-16.

Howell said his team performed poorly and while it accrued 16 points, the box score next to Caesar Rodney may as well have just read “0.”

“We wrestled flat in what was probably the biggest match of the season,” he said. “That’s atypical, for one, of our team. In my opinion, Smyrna won all 14 weights.

“Even the ones we won, they won. Whether it was the weights we were heavily favored in that they kept close, the toss-up matches they won and they got bonus points. You can’t go wrong that way.”

A bounce back is what Howell is hoping for following the deflating loss, as a busy week lies ahead for CR.

This weekend marks the Individual Henlopen Conference Wrestling Championships, followed by the State Dual Championships Tuesday, Feb. 23, and finally the State Individual Championships that begin Friday, Feb. 26.

The Riders are pretty much a lock for the state duals and more than likely will enter as a No. 4 seed.

Howell, however, said he does not expect too much from that tournament and is instead turning his focus to preparations for the individual competitions.

“We still have a bunch of guys on our team that can do great things in conferences and states,” he said. “Realistically, as a team, we’re not going to win a team title this year. So we’re looking forward to getting to conferences this weekend and states the following.

“We have some guys that have a great shot at winning state titles.”

That said, Howell added that he is not dismissing the state duals, and sees the value it could have for his wrestlers.

“I don’t think we’re going to upset anybody,” he said. “If we win our first match, being the four seed, we’d wrestle [No. 1] St. Mark’s, and we all know what that’s about. But we can get some good matches for the guys and hopefully those matches can help some guys get up to the next level.”

With such a busy week ahead, and two different styles of wrestling in duals and individuals to compete in, Howell said the pace of preparation would slow down a bit.

His intention is to make sure his wrestlers don’t wear down at the end, and he said that there is not much more to tweak this late.

“There’s so much wrestling that hopefully their conditioning is ready and they’ve done the things that they need to do to prepare,” he said. “You can’t work too hard because there’s more matches and harder matches.

“You get into those tournaments and that’s going to be a meat grinder for those guys.”

WHAT Henlopen Conference Wrestling Championships
WHEN 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, and Sunday, Feb. 21
WHERE Cape Henlopen High School, 1250 Kings Highway, Lewes

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