Kent matmen aim for berth in regional duals

Kent County’s Alex Sipes works toward a late pin of North Caroline’s Chris Clarke in the 220-pound bout Friday night. Sipes wrestled up two weight classes and trailed 13-0 with less than a minute remaining.

WORTON — Coach Chris Yiannakis was spot on in his prediction for what the Trojans needed to do to ensure a berth in the regional dual-match tournament — win three of their last five regular-season contests.

A victory last night at home in the finale against Colonel Richardson would lock up the third seed in the four-team tournament.

Otherwise, Kent County will need help from Mardela, Wicomico and Parkside to ensure it gets in as the fourth seed.

Kent County went 2-1 last week to improve to 6-7. There’s lots to be said for the wins against St. Michaels and North Dorchester, but what Yiannakis was most thrilled about was the 49-27 loss to highly regarded North Caroline here Friday night.

“Ecstatic” was the word Yiannakis used to describe how he felt after the loss.

“We gave up two forfeits and still were within three matches of winning,” he said. “We had a couple of guys down with a cold but still put in work.”

There were several “prize moments,” Yiannakis said.

The most exciting was the 220-pound bout where Kent junior Alex Sipes pinned Chris Clarke with 28 seconds remaining. Trailing 13-0 after the second period, Sipes backed his way into a reversal to score his first points with 37 seconds to go and then stuck Clarke.

Sipes was wrestling up two weight classes and was one of the Trojans who was battling a cold.

His goal was to last all three periods.

Sipes’ late pin narrowed North Caroline’s lead to 16-15.

Kent also trailed by only a point, 22-21, after freshman Alex Bellarin’s quick pin (32 seconds) at 106.

The match started at 152 pounds, and the Bulldogs (9-3) led 4-0 after senior Shane Warren’s 12-4 major decision over former teammate Gabe Yiannakis. Warren wrestled for Kent last year when he was a state qualifier at 145.

The Trojans’ other state qualifier last year, junior Will Ashmore, put them on the scoreboard with an 8-1 decision over Dakota Walton. Ashmore pitched a 6-0 shutout through the opening 4 minutes, 49 seconds.

Trailing 4-3 after the first two bouts, coach Yiannakis forced North Caroline’s hand when he forfeited at 170 and bumped up Kregg Walton. North Caroline had no choice but to also bump up and use a less experienced wrestler.

The strategy paid off as Walton won by pin. He had turned Nasser Ross for a nearfall just before the horn sounded to end the first period, and stretched his lead from 4-0 to 6-2 before ending the match in the third period.

The last time that Kent trailed by only a point came after Aron Ashley-Pinder won by pin at 120.

Again, coach Yiannakis did some strategizing.

Though Hunter Benton is still out due to concussion protocol, he weighed in — theoretically giving Kent options at 120 and 126. This forced North Caroline to match Kent at 120, instead of moving around its 120-pounders, and resulted in a better pairing for Pinder.

The Kent sophomore did not disappoint, sticking Dandy Scharf in 1:28 to make the team score 28-27.

“I tell the guys every week that building a lineup is like chess, not checkers. You have to be a step ahead and out-move your opponent,” Chris Yiannakis said in an email.

North Caroline closed out the match with wins in the final four bouts, beginning with a forfeit at 126.

Earlier on the Friday night card, Kent defeated North Dorchester, 66-12. The locals picked up 24 points due to wins by forfeit at 132, 145, 195 and 220.

There was a double forfeit at 106.

Bellarin (113), Ashley-Pinder (126), Kevin Mallory (138), Ashmore (160), Walton (170), Brandon Crouch (182) and Rick Townsend (285) won by pin.

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