The Caesar Rodney High School wrestling team cleaned up at the 55th annual DIAA Individual Wrestling Championships Feb. 25 and 26 at St. Mark’s High School, as four of its grapplers walked away as the top dog in their respective weight classes.
It’d be tough to find a team throughout the winter sports season that had a better run of success than the Caesar Rodney High School wrestling squad.
Less than two weeks after the Riders claimed the Division I title at the DIAA Dual Wrestling Championships, four members of the team claimed their own crowns at the 55th annual DIAA Individual Wrestling Championships, held Feb. 25 and 26 at St. Mark’s High School.
The four tied Caesar Rodney with St. Mark’s for the most total individual titles won by any one school.
CR was led by 160-pound senior Issah Meade, who won his third straight title — the previous two were at 152 pounds — and junior Kaleb LeMaire, the 119-pound champ who was the state’s top grappler at 112 pounds a year ago.
Joining the two repeat champions were first-time winners Stephen Jackson, a junior 135-pounder, and freshman Micah Hight, 112 pounds.
In addition to the four state champions, CR Head Coach Dickie Howell said he was impressed with the way his other 10 wrestlers performed in the tournament.
The Riders had two runners-up — sophomore Zach Howell, 103 pounds, and junior Pierce DeMarreau, 171 pounds — and an overall 12 finishers in the top six.
“We had a tough kid at every weight,” Howell said. “Even in a tournament with the best kids in the state, the kids were still able to win matches. And that’s how we won as a team all year. We had our superstars but we didn’t have a weak link on the team.
“They were a good group of kids. They really bonded and they were as much a family as they were a team.”
Meade, who felt he didn’t wrestle as well as he could have but was pleased with the outcome nonetheless, said he knew this year’s team had the potential to earn the success it did.
However, the three-time state champ said that string of success didn’t come without a lot of hard work.
“Coming into the season, I knew we were going to win states, I knew we had the talent,” Meade said. “In the practice room, we all went hard and tried better than we had the day before. Every time we went out I told them to wrestle like we’re No. 1 and train like we’re No. 2.
“That’s what we did and it turned out awesome.”
LeMaire agreed with his teammate but said he kept his feelings on how the team would finish to himself all year.
“I had some predictions because I knew who was coming in and I knew what we could do,” he said. “I always had in my mind that we could be right where we are right now, I just didn’t think it’d be success to this extent.”
The paths of each of the four champions were much different heading into the tournament.
Meade wanted to close his career with his third title, while LeMaire and Hight each moved up a weight class to challenge themselves more, a challenge they both passed.
Jackson, however, found himself in unfamiliar territory. As the No. 1 seed in his weight class, he moved out of the shadows of the underdog role he had come to embrace through his first three years of high school.
He said moving through the tournament with the bulls eye on his back was a different experience, but one he quickly learned to win under.
“Me and my coach were talking and I just kind of did what I had to do, which was to wrestle smart and wrestle through all of my matches,” Jackson said. “And that’s what I did and it worked out in the end.”
While a wrestler like Meade was bringing his career to an end, the youngest of the group in Hight was just getting started.
By winning a title as a freshman, the 112-pounder has taken the first step toward joining the elite group of four-time state champions.
Hight admittedly said that goal was in the back of his mind as he made his way through his first tournament.
“It feels great, I’m off to a wonderful start,” he said. “Our team won the states and then I won an individual. Four straight, that’s what I’m looking for.”
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND RESULTS
103: Brent Fleetwod (Smyrna), 7-0 dec. over Zach Howell (Caesar Rodney)
112: Micah Hight (Caesar Rodney), 6-0 dec. over John Archangelo (Smyrna)
119: Kaleb LeMaire (Caesar Rodney), 3-2 dec. over Chris Donaldson (Salesianum)
125: Matt Kibblehouse (Salesianum), 6-4 dec. over David Hershberger (Smyrna)
130: Tyler Pendergast (St. Mark’s), 10-2 dec. over Mark Ardecki (Caravel)
135: Stephen Jackson (Caesar Rodney), 7-4 dec. over Daniel Downes (St. Mark’s)
140: Cody Broomall (Sussex Central), 12-1 maj. Dec. over Tyere Joyner (Dover)
145: Patrick Davis (Woodbridge), 2-1 dec. over Jeremy Miller (Sussex Central)
152: Codey Combs (Sussex Central), pinned Zach Boyles (Smyrna)
160: Issah Meade (Caesar Rodney), 5-2 dec. over Ryan Wolfe (Caravel)
171: Josh Snook (St. Mark’s), pinned Pierce DeMarreau (Caesar Rodney)
189: Michael Mauk (St. Mark’s), pinned Artis Thorne (Polytech)
215: Joey Spicer (Sussex Central), pinned Devon Showell (Indian River)
285: Pat Cassidy (St. Mark’s), 5-0 dec. over Katteem Harmon (Indian River)
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