The Indian River High School wrestling team was ready to bring home the school’s first state title on the mats when they got to state duals at Smyrna High School on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Instead, they’d see Milford bring home that school’s second in a row, as the Bucs came back from a 15-point deficit to take down the Indians 34-40.
After a back-and-fourth bout at states and 16-3 season, however, IR head coach Jeff Windish was far from discouraged with his state-finalist squad as they geared up for individual conference and state championships.
“We left it all out there. I don’t think anybody had anything left to give and, as a coach, that’s what you want to see,” said Windish.
“Everybody wrestled their hearts out,” he continued. “There were some points that we didn’t get that I think we should have gotten, but that’s how it goes. We came up a few points short on the scoreboard, but these kids have nothing to hang their heads about. They all wrestled well.”
The 34-30 final wasn’t far off from the score when the No. 1- and 2-seeded Division II teams had met earlier this season, when the Bucs handed the Indians their first loss on the season, by the score of 37-33 on Jan. 25.
“I think we matched up well,” said Windish of his squad’s Henlopen South rival. “You can wrestle that match 10 times, and it’s going to be a one- or two-point match every time. It just went the wrong way for us tonight. I thought we made the right moves. We just came up a few points short at the end of the night.”
After earning the program’s third finish in the finals, the Indians also saw history made when senior 182-pounder Zeke Marcozzi collected his 127th career win in his semi-final match against St. Georges Tech, tying Mike Magaha’s Indian River High School record.
Marcozzi will have a chance to set a new school record when he goes for his 128th career win as individual conference championships get under way at Sussex Central High School on Friday, Feb. 17.
Also headed for the history books is senior Jared Arlett, who picked up his 92nd career win in the finals match against Milford, putting him eight wins shy of becoming the sixth wrestler in IR history to reach 100 career wins.
After conferences, the Indians will gear up for the individual state tournament, with the preliminary round beginning on Friday, Feb. 24.
“We wrestled a good season so far. We’re 16-3, we’re state finalists. Of course you want to win it, but they wrestled tough,” said Windish on Tuesday. “We’ll be ready for conferences. Tomorrow and Thursday, we gotta get ready to go.”