Rosser completes high school wrestling career with state championship

LEWES – It was a bittersweet moment for Milford senior Robbie Rosser.

In the final match of his high school wrestling career, Rosser earned a 15-3 major decision victory over St. George’s Tech junior Sebastian Sye to win the 2018 DIAA Individual State Championship in the 120-pound weight class.

It would be his second consecutive state championship after taking home first place in the 113-pound class last year as a junior.

Rosser defeats St. George’s Tech junior Sebastian Sye in the finals of the 120-pound bracket (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“That’s definitely how you want to finish out your career, it’s been a good ride,” Rosser said. “I’m thankful for everyone who got me here. I really appreciate my coaches – coach Parsley is my biggest role model. Coach Reid, thanks for everything you do and for pushing me to be better. Coach Strickland, thanks so much, he really helps you keep your head straight. I’d just like to thank them all for getting me here.”

To earn the spot in the finals, Rosser defeated Middletown’s Nicolas Bailey (by pin) in the first round, Delcastle’s Matthew James (15-3 major decision) in the quarterfinals and Indian River’s Ta’Jon Knight (3-2 decision) in the semifinals.

“He’s had an outstanding career,” said head coach Don Parsley. “His 155 career victories put him at the top of the ladder in terms of the history of Milford wrestling. Two state titles, closing it out with a 15-3 win here in the finals, he’s really done an outstanding job all season. Obviously, his wrestling has been stellar, but also his leadership in the room and the things he’s meant to the team are really just things you can’t measure.”

Junior Eric Bennett placed second in the 195-pound weight class, falling to Smyrna’s Tony Wuest by first period pin in the championship round.

“I thought he wrestled really well (in the tournament),” Parsley said of Bennett. “I felt, coming in, that he was probably the second-best guy in the weight class. It’s tough being in a weight-class with Tony Wuest – it’s hard being No. 1 when you’re going up against Tony. I’m certainly excited for Eric’s achievement and looking forward to next year and what’s going to happen.”

Junior Eric Bennett prior to his 195-pound championship match against Smyrna’s Tony Wuest (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Senior Khiry Hovington finished out his high school wrestling career with a fifth-place finish in the 152-pound class, defeating Smyrna’s Mike Giampietro by 4-2 decision in the fifth-place match.

Sophomore Anthony Diaz, the No. 1 seed heading into the tournament, finished sixth in the 220-pound class. Diaz defeated DMA’s Zachary Staman by pin in the first round and Concord’s David Roebuck by 11-5 decision before falling in the semifinals, to Sussex Tech’s Andrew Hawkins, by injury default.

“Certainly disappointed for Anthony, he was the No. 1 seed in the tournament who got hurt in the semifinals and wasn’t able to continue,” coach Parsley said. “But, he’s an underclassmen so we have a lot to look forward to in the future from him.”

The Buccaneers overcame a lot of adversity in 2017-18, losing regular season Div. II matches to Indian River and Laurel before finishing the season as dual-meet champions and bringing home one individual state championship.

“I think adversity’s a good thing. You don’t want bad adversity, but certainly adversity challenges you and forces you to rise to the challenge. Sometimes, in life, we don’t have enough challenges, or we don’t accept them as challenges and we’re just happy with whatever the result is,” coach Parlsey said.

“We lost a tough match to IR early, then we lost to Laurel and we had some other losses in there to Division I schools, and I just changed my demeanor in the practice room. They understood that you don’t just show up and win because you’ve won before, you really have to do something about it. So, we made some changes in the room, the guys really bought in to what we were doing. Robbie really was a catalyst in making that happen, and as the season unfolded we got the rematch with IR in the semis and Laurel in the championship match.”

The Bucs lose a handful of seniors to graduation this spring, including Rosser, Hovington and Oscar Rosario, but with a young squad coach Parsley excited to see what the future holds.

“When you look back at it, you’re always going to remember your teammates and the bond you had,” Rosser, who will be wrestling at the college level, said. “That’s never going to go away. I just get along with them all really well.”

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

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