Wrestlers grapple with the best

The Indian River varsity wrestling team earned their stripes this past week, finishing 8th in the Henlopen Conference tournament Feb 18-19, and losing to Hodgson 48-18 in their first Division II Dual Meet State tournament in school history.
Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY: Andy Bokinsky controls an opponent on his way toward a third place finish in the conference tournament.Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY:
Andy Bokinsky controls an opponent on his way toward a third place finish in the conference tournament.

The Indians kept pace with the 6th-ranked Hodgson squad — posting a 15-15 score through the first six matches (152-HW). Andy Bokinsky (160) and Perry Townsend (189) won their matches by pin, while D.J. Singleterry (215) was forced to settle for the win by decision.

“Perry’s win was huge. He’s been wrestling with a lot more confidence lately,” said head coach Jeff Windish.

With the score tied and eight matches to go, the Indians stared down the barrel of the loaded bottom half of Hodgsons’ lineup.

“They are really tough in the middle of their lineup but a few matches were really close, and if a couple points go our way then this match is another story,” said Windish.

Indian River’s Mark Magaha (103) lost a gut-wrenching 6-1 decision in the third period to Hodgson’s Colton McFatridge, while Mark Giblin (125) was unable to get over the hump versus Brandon Bruce in a disappointing 10-8 loss. Indian River’s Brad Tephabock (130) won the only match out of the remaining eight by decision to round out the Indians first dual meet tournament.

“We’ll definitely be back next season,” said Mike Willis (119).

“My guys wrestled very hard and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Windish.

Even in the face of defeat, Indian River never let their heads fall as they prepared for the conference tournament Feb. 18-19.

“This match was good for us-we competed hard against good talent. This was a good tune-up for the upcoming conference tournament,” said Windish.

Some people thrive on increased competition and it certainly appeared so as the Indians took part in the conference tournament. The Indians showed they could compete, not only now, but also in the future, as four Indian River wrestlers move on to the state tournament.

D.J. Singleterry completely dominated the 215-pound weight class throughout the tournament, winning every match, including the championship round versus Milford’s Luke Pierson. Singleterry manhandled Pierson throughout the match — breaking his holds as if they were made of rusty chains-in a technical 9-4 win by decision.

Another victorious weekend at the state tournament and Singleterry will be Indian River’s first state wrestling champion.

Andy Bokinsky (160) pulled down third place in the conference tournament as he proceeds to the state tournament this weekend. Bokinsky was defeated in the finals by Smyrna’s Brian Fletcher, but mopped up on past victims in the consolation rounds. Bokinsky swiftly defeated Cape Henlopen’s Kyle King and Sussex Central’s Chris Cordry, improving his record to 5-0 versus the pair of ranked opponents. In order to come out on top in the state tournament, Bokinsky must wrestle his way through one of the most competitive weight classes, featuring top-ranked Dan Rigby from Caesar Rodney.
Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY: Brad Tephabock looks for an opening to take down his opponent.Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY:
Brad Tephabock looks for an opening to take down his opponent.

Perry Townsend (189) and Mike Willis (119) surprised everyone at the tournament — both earning invitations to the state tournament. Townsend won three matches by way of pin to earn 5th place in the conference tournament. Townsend lost in the quarterfinals to Smyrna’s Javan Siler 17-5 in a major defeat, but rebounded by pinning his next two opponents in 1:35 and 3:44 in a display of raw power and aggression.

“It was a race to see who could get back to their hips first,” said Townsend.

As a sophomore, Townsend indicated that we would probably be able to compete at states as a junior or senior, but now will wrestle with the best. Dover’s Jamelle Jones is the most dominating wrestler at the 189-weight class, and Townsend will have a tall task in front of him if he is to compete.

Mike Willis came on strong during the tournament as well, winning four of his six matches to take 5th place in the consolation round. Willis defeated Milford’s Ricky Good for the second time to win the consolation round by a score of 10-3 decision. Willis pinned Good with only 13 seconds remaining in the match to move him to the quarterfinals to face Caesar Rodney’s Alex Meade.

Willis’ late emergence has translated well for the Indians down the stretch, as Indian River has struggled with consistency at the lower weights. Willis has moved in and out of the lineup throughout the season and appears to have established himself as a main cog on the Indians squad.

Heavyweight Mario Robles just missed making the tournament, pulling down a 7th-place finish in the conference tournament. Robles faced tough competition from a loaded weight class, but came away winning three of his five matches.

As the season comes to a conclusion, the Indians look to draw on their success going into next season.

“Right now we’re still building our program, but we’ve improved every week,” said Windish.

The Indians will lose talented seniors Singleterry, Giblin and Bokinsky, but Indian River still seems optimistic.

“A lot of guys are interested in wrestling next season. They have already been in the weight room getting ready,” said Townsend.