Kent matmen chasing program's 400th win

Chris Yiannakis, the second-year head wrestling coach at alma mater Kent County High School, said the program is at the crossroads of being mediocre or moving forward.

SALISBURY — Taking a chapter out of the Charles Dickens’ novel about Christmas past and Christmas future, Kent County wrestling coach Chris Yiannakis has a pretty good gauge on where his team is now.

Kent split a double-dual match Dec. 18, pinning a 57-24 loss on Cambridge-South Dorchester before getting decked by host Stephen Decatur, 77-6.

Cambridge, unable to fill all 14 weight classes, is where KCHS was not so long ago.

And Stephen Decatur, ranked No. 3 in the state, is where Kent County wants to be.

Kent pounced on shorthanded Cambridge, winning six bouts by forfeit and three others by pin. Plus, Kregg Walton won by decision at 170 pounds.

Brandon Crouch (220) and Rick Townsend (285) stuck their respective opponents in the first period. Will Ashmore’s pin came with 4 minutes, 39 seconds elapsed in the 160-pound bout.

Winners by forfeit were Alex Bellarin (106), Gabe Yiannakis (138), Kevin Mallory (145), Brandon Cannon (152), Octavio Roblero (182) and Alex Sipes (195).

“We bumped up some guys and took advantage of some key forfeits and had some guys pull out close ones,” Chris Yiannakis said.

Cambridge scored its points courtesy of successive pins at 113, 120, 126 and 132, where Kent sent out three first-year high school wrestlers and a returning sophomore.

Bellarin had the locals’ only win in the match against Stephen Decatur, a 55-second pin at 113.

Unbeaten Bellarin was bumped up a weight class to ensure that he had a “good match,” said coach Yiannakis. Otherwise, Bellarin was set to wrestle an 82-pound novice.

Afterward, Chris Yiannakis said in an email: “We got a good look back at our past in Cambridge and its incomplete roster and a look at our future, Decatur and the next level. Now we decide do we stay here and be mediocre, or move forward.”

Obviously, Kent wants to move forward. But there are obstacles along the route.

Friday at Parkside, the Trojans took it on the proverbial chin, 54-21. Bellarin (106), Ashmore (152), and Sipes (195) won by pin and Crouch (182) had a decision.

Kent Island (5-0), Parkside (4-0), Stephen Decatur (3-0) and Queen Anne’s (3-0) started this week with unblemished records.

“Parkside’s level is really the next step for us,” Chris Yiannakis wrote in an email.

He said the Jan. 3 match there would have been much closer had the Trojans “not gone down with so many falls.”

“If all those falls (eight) had been decisions, it puts us in contention,” he added.

Yiannakis said most of Kent’s wrestlers extended their time on the mat from previous matches against what he considered “good teams.” The pins came in the second and third periods, and in most of those matches the Trojans scored points.

That shows growth, the coach said.

Kent was 2-2 heading into last night’s match at Snow Hill. Chris Yiannakis was optimistic that the Trojans would win, which would be the 400th victory for the program started by hall of fame coach Dan Zottarelli in 1972.

Yiannakis is planning on marking that milestone Jan. 15 when Kent hosts Mardela. It’s being publicized as an alumni event, with all former wrestlers and coaches invited to attend. The match starts at 5 p.m.

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