Central’s Ankrom, Stratton bring home wrestling state championships

LEWES – Sussex Central’s wrestling program brought home not one, but two individual state championships this weekend.

Freshman Mason Ankrom and senior Rashad Stratton each won their respective weight classes at the 2018 DIAA Individual State Wrestling Championships at Cape Henlopen High Saturday, Feb. 24.

“I think it was a nice way to end the year,” first-year head coach Shane Miller said. “Both of those wrestlers were very deserving. They set goals in the very beginning of the year, they worked their butts off during the season and they achieved them. It was awesome.”

Central senior Rashad Stratton celebrates his championship victory Saturday night (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Ankrom, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, earned an 8-7 decision victory over the No. 1-seeded Joey Natarcola from Smyrna in the finals of the 106-pound weight class.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Ankrom said following the win. “It really feels good. We really worked hard all year. Coach Shane did a great job this year, everyone pushed real hard in the practice room and it was just a great job all around.”

Stratton, also the No. 2 seed heading into the tournament, earned the hard-fought 4-2 decision victory over Smyrna’s Nick Natarcola, Joey’s brother, in the finals of the 132-pound weight class.

It marked his second consecutive individual state title to wrap up his high school wrestling career.

“It’s unbelievable. To do it twice, is unbelievable,” Stratton said. “The hard work paid off. All those times I’ve gone to practice over the last few years, the blood, sweat and tears all paid off in the end.”

“Rashad is an outstanding young man, an outstanding wrestler, and he’s very deserving of his two titles,” coach Miller said.

Central came close to having three state champions, as junior Michael Wright placed second in the 182-pound weight class.

The No. 2 seed in his bracket, Wright fell to Smyrna’s No. 1-seeded Josh Dailey by 11-6 decision in the finals.

Central freshman Mason Ankrom points to the crowd after his victory in the 106-pound championship (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Sophomore Brandon Greenlee (138) and senior Tyler Bunting (170) rounded out the placing for the Golden Knights, as they each finished sixth in their brackets.

The Central program will lose a handful of seniors to graduation, but with a core group of young wrestlers returning next year coach Miller is excited to see what’s next.

“I think we had a really good year,” he said. “I have a lot of young guys coming back who are ready to work hard, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Indian River wrestling

Indian River, sending seven wrestlers to the state championships, had three grapplers finish in the top six.

Sophomore Will Rayne (113) came in second, falling to Salesianum’s Zach Spence by 7-3 decision in Saturday night’s finals.

Sophomore Ta’Jon Knight (120) came in third in his weight class, defeating Salesianum’s Owen Klinger by pin in the third-place match.

Junior Zach Schultz (195) placed sixth, falling to Lake Forest’s Kristopher Thompson by 2-1 decision in the fifth-place match.

Sussex Tech wrestling

Of the eight wrestlers Tech sent to states, three of them placed in the top six.

Junior Trey Hatfield (160) placed fifth, defeating Caesar Rodney’s Mikel Abdullah by 3-2 decision in the fifth-place match.

After advancing past the semifinals over top-seeded Anthony Diaz (of Milford) due to an injury default, junior Andrew Hawkins (220) fell in the finals to Dover’s Hugo Harp by 9-3 decision.

Jamie Schirmer (285) placed third, defeating Cape Henlopen’s Jonah Robertson by 1-0 decision in the third-place match.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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