Bucs take down Central for just third time in more than three decades

MILFORD – In Milford High’s final home meet of the regular season Friday night, the Bucs pulled away with a thrilling 29-28 comeback victory over defending Division I state champion Sussex Central.

The win marks just the third time the Bucs have defeated Sussex Central in head coach Don Parsley’s 28 years as head coach of the program. It’s three times in 33 years if you include Dan Rigby’s brief five-year coaching tenure from 2010-14.

“Honestly, they’re a great program. If you can knock off a Smyrna, a Sussex Central, or a Caesar Rodney, those are the top programs in the state and it’s certainly a feather in your cap,” coach Parsley said. “We’re a good, competitive team and to get that win is huge.”

Milford senior Oscar Rosario earned a third period pin in the 145-pound match Friday night (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

A pair of late wins by decision from junior Eric Bennett (195) and sophomore Anthony Diaz (220) helped the Bucs overcome an early eight-point deficit to shock Central and pull away with the one-point victory.

“When you sit down, look at matches and you break them down, first of all you have to find a way to win seven. If you win seven, that means you got a split and then you’ve got to get bonus points, which means you have to get pins, techs and majors,” coach Parsley said following the dual-meet.

“I don’t know how many matches we won tonight, it was a blur, but I knew we were in the hunt and we had a chance,” he continued. “We got the win at 113, that was big for us, we got the win at 152, that was big. Bennett got the takedown at the buzzer to win at 195. Diaz at 220 did a good job. Heavyweight [Jacob Bryant] did everything he had to do to stay off his back. It was a total team effort.”

After doing the post-match math, it was exactly seven wins in 14 matches for coach Parsley’s squad. Meaning, of course, Milford needed to keep the losses close and earn pins and technical falls, as he mentioned.

Pins by Oscar Rosario (145) and Rafael Mejia (160) and a 19-4 technical fall from Robbie Rosser (120) proved to be key victories for the Bucs.
Wins by decision from Trent Grant (113), Khiry Hovington (152), Eric Bennett (195) and Anthony Diaz (220) rounded out Milford’s individual wins.

Milford freshman Corey Messick, left, went head-to-head with Central freshman Mason Ankrom in the 106-pound match (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Sussex Central jumped ahead early, earning a 11-1 major decision in the 106-pound match before jumping out to a 16-8 lead through the first six matches.

Rosario’s pin at 145, Hovington’s 2-1 decision in the 152-pound match and Rafael Mejia’s pin at 160 put the Bucs ahead 23-16 with just five matches remaining.

“He’s a guy who’s beaten me a couple of times before, so coach keeps telling me any time I wrestle someone good to just keep it close and find a way,” Hovington said of his match against a tough Drew Morris at 152. “So, that’s all I was thinking of the entire time I was out there, is just stay in position and then I saw my opportunity, so I just took it.”

Central’s Michael Wright recorded the Golden Knights’ second of two pins on the night in the 182-pound match to regain a 25-23 lead, but back-to-back wins from Bennett and Diaz put the Bucs back ahead 29-25 heading into the heavyweight bout.

All Milford would need to do is keep the 285-pound match close and they would secure the victory.

Narrowly avoiding a pin on a couple of different occasions throughout the three periods, Bryant fell to Central’s Tyler Karr by 6-4 decision to secure 29-28 dual-meet victory.

“Our heavyweights are pretty much the guys who anchor the whole entire match. Diaz and Eric usually get it done, and then we rely on Jacob to finish the job. He fought as hard as he could to just keep it close and keep us in the right spot,” Hovington said of his teammates.

With just one last road dual-meet Monday, Feb. 5, Milford is looking to finish the regular season strong ahead of next week’s dual-meet state championships in Smyrna.

“The final dual-meet is always one of the ones where you have to go kind of go your hardest, especially as a senior I want to go out and do my best,” Hovington said. “But, we’re always working hard. Matches come naturally when you just feel comfortable in your own skin, so I feel like it’s nothing to worry about I’m just going to go out and do what I can and hopefully I get the win.”

“It’s just another day. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, it’s just another day,” coach Parsley said of Monday’s road dual-meet. “We’re going to come in, we’re going to train hard, if there’s something in front of us we’re going to compete hard and try to get that win. Woodbridge is a much-improved team, so we’re going to go out there with a plan and a purpose and hopefully we can get that last victory of the regular season and use that to build onto next weekend’s state duals.”

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

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