Once again, Chris Drummond came tantalizingly close to a Henlopen Conference title.



But a pin just a minute and 42 seconds into the first round of a semifinal match against Smyrna’s Donnie Messick ensured that one of the most accomplished wrestlers Milford High School has ever seen will finish his career without a conference championship to his name.


Once again, Chris Drummond came tantalizingly close to a Henlopen Conference title.

But a pin just a minute and 42 seconds into the first round of a semifinal match against Smyrna’s Donnie Messick ensured that one of the most accomplished wrestlers Milford High School has ever seen will finish his career without a conference championship to his name.

“It was a bummer of a loss,” Drummond said. “Now I’ve got to just train hard, get my head right and wrestle to the best of my ability next week.”

Six Buc wrestlers, including Drummond, placed in the top six of their respective weight classes in Saturday’s Henlopen Conference championship tournament, automatically qualifying them for the state tournament on Feb. 27 and 28. But all of them were finished before the first finals match began - the first time Milford has been shut out of the title bouts in a decade or more, according to Head Coach Don Parsley.

“It’s disappointing - you qualify for states by being in the top six, but the goal isn’t to qualify for the state tournament,” Parsley said. “The goal is to win a conference championship.”

Dustin Killinger lost the 140-pound semifinal to Jason Baker, another Smyrna wrestler, but on a far more technical call.

At the end of the first round, the score was 2-0 for Killinger, but the referee called him for “fleeing the mat” - deliberately going out of bounds witht he intent not to wrestle. That carries a two-point penalty, turning a 2-0 lead into a 2-2 tie.

Both wrestlers scored two points in the second period, and Killinger started the third with control - meaning that if Baker managed to get to even a neutral position, he would earn a point and the lead.

For 1:50, Killinger won the battle, keeping Baker on the ground and under control. But as time expired, the Smyrna wrestler finally escaped from Killinger’s hold, earning a one-point escape and a 5-4 victory.

“We got away from what we usually do,” Parsley said. “It’s very difficult to stay on top for a full round, and if they get that escape too late, like he did, then, well, there’s no chance to win when the clock’s at zero and the other guy has more points.”

“Things happen,” Killinger said. “I wanted to place higher, but now I’ve just got to train harder for the state tournament.”

Killinger and Drummond both won consolation finals to place third in their weight classes. Drummond did it with a heavily bandaged forehead after opening a gash above his left eye while beating Caesar Rodney’s Chad McParlin, but he didn’t let it bother him, even when the cut reopened during his final match, bleeding through the tape and bandage as the bout wore on.

“It’s just something I shrugged off,” he said.

By points, the Bucs placed sixth overall in the conference, ahead of all of the Henlopen South schools. Smyrna was the overall champion, with five individual titles and all 12 of its wrestlers qualified for states.

“The Henlopen Conference is very tough, and it’s good that we were able to show that we’re the best in the south,” Parsley said.

Connor Short fell to yet another Smyrna wrestler, Jake Roberts, in the 119-pound quarterfinals, but won two matches in the consolation bracket to place fourth in the division.

Chris Harris, at 125 pounds, and Edgar Ramirez, at 130, both placed fifth in their divisions. Harris will be returning to the state tournament after a surprise third-place finish last year as a freshman, while Ramirez will be making his first appearance there.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Ramirez said.

Chris Masten placed sixth at 135 pounds, earning his first state tournament berth.

“Making states was one of the goals I set for myself this year, but I didn’t even want to tell anyone because I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off,” Masten said. “Even going into today I didn’t think I was going to do much, but I put it all on the line, and it paid off.”

 The only other Buc to make it to the second day was Joe McIlvain, who forfeited a quarter-final match due to illness. Luck balanced that scale a bit later in the day, when the wrestler he was due to face in the seventh-place match had to forfeit for health reasons.