Trojans maintain composure
ST. MICHAELS — Kevin Mallory probably could not have imagined the significance of his mental toughness when he stepped onto the wrestling mat here Jan. 24. The unproven Kent County freshman maintained his composure when his opponent could not, and his win by pin at 120 pounds proved to be the difference in the match.
Kent County upset host St. Michaels, 42-40, for its first dual-match victory of the season. This also was the first win for Kent’s first-year head coach, Brett King.
“I’ll say it’s great for the team to get a win. I hope they like the feeling and stay hungry for it. They have worked hard in the practice room and the energy in the room feels different,” King wrote in an email.
“They are buying in to what this coaching staff has been drilling and it payed off tonight.”
Mallory was trailing 8-1 when he caught junior Chris Gutierrez with 4 minutes, 33 seconds elapsed in the 6-minute bout.
Gutierrez then displayed conduct that the referee deemed unsportsmanlike, costing the Saints two team points.
Ultimately, those two points made the difference.
“Kev could have given up being down 8-1 and already getting pinned by that young man once before at our holiday tournament, but all his hard work paid off and he found a new level,” King wrote in an email the day after the match.
“Same with all our guys. I told the team last night that this was a team win. Even our guys that got pinned are grinding in practice and making everyone around them better. Iron sharpens iron.”
The Saints led 12-0 after winning the 103-pound bout by forfeit and the 113-pound bout by first-period pin.
Mallory interrupted St. Michaels’ run with a pin at 120, and then the home team got back on track with wins by forfeit at 126 and 132 to extend its lead to 22-6.
Kent County sophomore Shane Warren (138) stuck Al- len Keen in 17 seconds for the fastest pin of the night, touching off a string of three wins in four bouts that closed the gap to 28-24 after freshmen Will Ashmore (145) and Ty Wilson (160) picked up forfeits.
The Trojans won three of the last five bouts to complete the comeback. Sophomore Kolby Walters (182), freshman Josh Unkle (195) and senior Gunner Jones (285) each won by forfeit.
Kent took its first lead at 3634 after the 195-pound bout and won the match when Jones was awarded a forfeit in the final bout.
There were only four contested bouts. Kent won two by pin and St. Michaels won two by pin.
Shorthanded Kent — two wrestlers were kept out of the lineup due to illness — gave up a total of 24 points due to forfeits at 106, 126, 132 and 220.
In other wrestling news, Kent was a last-minute entry in the Delmarva Classic at James Bennett on Jan. 20. The Trojans entered nine weight classes. Freshman Gabe Yiannakis (126), Ashmore, senior R.J. Ball (152), Walters and Jones each went 3-2; Mallory, Wilson and sophomore Isaiah Hackett (220) each won one bout.
Hackett’s win was by pin. His tournament was curtailed by injury in the next bout.
Kent went 0-5 in the dualmatch tournament, including a 34-33 loss to Wicomico. The matches against Cambridge and North Dorchester were more competitive than in the regular season.
King wrote in a Jan. 23 email, “The scores are getting closer as our guys progress. We are still losing matches, but as long as we are as a team consistently improving, we are going to consider this a success.”
Brett King, far left, is the first-year head coach of Kent County High School’s wrestling program. His staff includes, from left, Mike Menefee and KCHS graduates Matt Jones and Taylor Moore, seated.