Tech fall!

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: IR freshman Ta’Jon Knight wrestles his way to a tech fall during the Indians’ win over Sussex Tech on Friday, Jan. 27.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: IR freshman Ta’Jon Knight wrestles his way to a tech fall during the Indians’ win over Sussex Tech on Friday, Jan. 27.The last time they pulled it off was 2011.

That didn’t stop the Indian River High School wrestling team from bouncing back from their first loss of the season, against Milford, however, with a 31-28 win over Sussex Tech on Friday, Jan. 21.

“Sussex Tech is a well-coached team,” said IR head coach Jeff Windish after the dual-meet win. “They’re young, but Scott [Layfield] has them coached-up. He’s a good coach, and they’ve got some good wrestlers.”

While most meets this season have started off with tone-setting pins from standout freshmen including Will Rayne at 106 and Ta’Jon Knight at 120, the Ravens held the Indians to a 12-0 lead after the first three matches ended with a 6-1 decision for Rayne over Sussex Tech’s Mason Rolph, a major decision at 113 for IR’s Christian Lopez and Knight getting a 16-0 tech fall at 120.

“Christian Lopez at 113 — that was a big win,” Windish said. “That was an important swing match.”

After a 9-0 major decision from IR senior Jessie O’Neal at 126, the Ravens finally got on the board at 132, with a pin from freshman Roberto Santos, and 15-6 major decision from junior Thomas Bunting at 138.

They’d keep things rolling at 145, when IR senior Jared Arlett jumped up two weight classes to take on Tech’s Michael Covey in a matchup that went down to the final seconds. After Arlett took a 6-5 lead with just over a minute to go, a shot from Covey with 20 seconds left in the final period gave him the eventual 7-6 comeback decision and the Ravens three points as they closed the gap to 16-13.

“We played with the lineup little bit to try and get some matchups,” Windish said of the strategy. “Some of them didn’t go as we planned, but the kids wrestled tough. They battled back. They didn’t fold.”

Despite the uncharacteristic dual-meet loss for Arlett, the senior co-captain was still well on his way to becoming only the sixth wrester in school history to break the 100-career win barrier, sitting just 13 wins shy of the mark, at 87-40 all-time, heading into a tri-meet against Seaford and Delmar on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

With the gap closing after Covey’s last-minute decision, wins from IR sophomore Reshawn Turner at 152 and senior Arturo “The Terminator” Salas at 160 gave the Indians some breathing room at 22-13.

Both of those matches went down to the wire, with Turner and Tech sophomore Royuan Jones locked in a 3-3 stalemate before Turner went on a scoring run with less than 30 seconds left to go, on his way to the 8-4 decision.

“I just had to pull through for my team,” said Turner of facing Jones for the third time this season. “My cardio helped me a lot in that match. In the last round, he was kind of winded, so I went for him. I was just hoping to go out there and get another win for the team.”

A pin by Tech senior Jacob Harner got the Ravens back on track at 170 after that, but a 5-2 decision from IR senior John Keller at 182 and pin from IR senior co-captain Zeke Marcozzi in at 195 put the score out of reach with only two matches to go as the Indians sealed the 31-28 victory.

As for Marcozzi — his pin in 1:09 put his career record at 120-35, improving to 122-35 after a tri-meet against Conrad and Wilmington Friends the next day, and just six wins shy of surpassing Mike Magaha’s current IRHS career-win record of 127.

Despite the team’s first win over the Ravens in five seasons, Windish said he was more impressed with how they had wrestled two days prior, in the 37-33 loss to defending state champion Milford, and hoping that his squad returned to similar form as they approached the final stretch of regular-season schedule and state duals in February.

“It’s a rivalry match. It’s going to be heated, but we did not wrestle our best match,” he noted. “We’re never disappointed in a win, but there was a little bit of a letdown from Wednesday night. I think if we show up and wrestle like we did Wednesday night, we can beat anybody.”

The Indians improved to 13-1 on the season on Saturday, Jan. 28, putting together a 59-12 over Conrad and 76-3 win over Wilmington Friends.

Headed into their final four matchups of the season — a tri-meet against Seaford on Delmar on Wednesday, Feb 1, (after Coastal Point press time), a rivalry match at Sussex Central on Wednesday, Feb. 7, and a Senior Night match against Woodbridge on Friday, Feb. 10 — the Indians were looking primed for a top seed and possible first-round bye for the state tournament, set to get under way on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

“Right now, our plan is to just keep it rolling,” said Turner of finishing the regular season on a strong note, “keep on winning and keep on improving ourselves, so that when we get to states we’re ready to wrestle.”

Indians 31, Sussex Tech 28 (results):

106: W.Rayne (IR) d. M.Rolph 6-1
113: C.Lopez (IR) md. C.Flood 15-7
120: T.Knight (IR) tf D.Berduo 16-0
126: J.O'Neal (IR) md. H.Hinline 9-0
132: R.Santos (ST) p. D.Ely 3:40
138: T.Bunting (ST) md. G.Gano 15-6
145: M.Covey (ST) d. J.Arlett 7-6
152: R.Turner (IR) d. R.Jones 8-4
160: A.Salas (IR) d. R.Marsh 6-3
170: J.Hamer (ST) p. Z.Howard 1:39
182: J.Keller (IR) d. D.Perez 5-2
195: Z.Marcozzi (IR) p. R.VanPelt 1:09
220: A.Hawkins (ST) d. Z.Shultz 2-0SV
285: C.Schirmer (ST) p. Ra. Turner 5:10

Marcozzi countdown to the record:

Career wins: 124
To go: 4

Arlett countdown to 100:

Career wins: 89
To go: 11