Local squads come out on top at ‘Battle at the Beach’ tournament

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: IR freshman Ramon Turner battles against Kyle Boothe from Oakland Mills in the 285 consolation bracket.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: IR freshman Ramon Turner battles against Kyle Boothe from Oakland Mills in the 285 consolation bracket.The beach has officially been battled at.

Some of the top wrestlers from 17 schools across the state and beyond showed up to hit the mats at Indian River High School for the “Battle at the Beach” wrestling tournament last Thursday, Dec. 28, and Friday, Dec. 29, with several local squads dominating the final standings.

Coming out on top was Sussex Central High School, with Cape Henlopen taking second, Emmaus High School from Pennsylvania placing third, and the Indians putting together one of their best team showings in recent years with a fourth-place finish in front of defending DII state champion Milford in fifth.

“Overall team performance, we wrestled an outstanding tournament,” said IR head coach Jeff Windish, who established the Battle of the Beach at IR in 2009.

“In most cases, we wrestled two or above our seeds in the tournament, which is what you want when you’re coming into a situation like this.”

While there was plenty of head-to-head excitement throughout the two-day event, the primetime showdown at 182, between Central’s Lucas Hudson and IR’s Zeke Marcozzi, stole the show.

Ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, respectively, Hudson and Marcozzi battled all the way down to the wire before Hudson eventually pulled out a 6-4 decision in overtime.

“I was kind of tired, but I was looking at [Lucas] thinking, ‘He looks tired, too,’” said Marcozzi of heading into overtime tied up at 4-4 after an intense three periods of regulation.

“I was trying to keep my legs away from him and get a low shot on the scoreboard. I came in legs heavy and then, as soon as I felt his hand grab, I knew it was coming — I knew what was going to happen, and it happened. I just couldn’t get there fast enough,” Marcozzi said.

While the two state contenders often workout together in the off-season and have wrestled together since the eighth grade, they had never faced off in an actual varsity match prior to last week’s tournament. That won’t be the case this season, with both seniors competing at 182 and set to face off again at a dual meet on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and likely to square up at conference and state championship tournaments this February as well.

“We talked before the match. We both knew it was going to be really close and could go either way,” Marcozzi said, describing the rivalry. “When we practice, it all depends on who scored first — that usually determines who wins. Even when we’re in here, if I score first, I win; if he scores first, he wins. It’s a battle every time.”

At 132, the Indians’ other senior with state title hopes pulled off a second-place showing of his own, with Jared Arlett making it all the way to the finals before falling to Caesar Rodney’s Jackson Dean.

But just to get to the finals, Arlett first had to take down Maryland state finalist Kyle Farace from Oakland Mills in the semis and Milford’s Gavin Garcia in the quarterfinals, after having lost a bout to Garcia at the Beast of the East tournament less than two weeks prior.

“I had to work on wrestling smarter. At the Beast, I gave [Garcia] most of his points, and here I was able to control the match,” Arlett said of bouncing back from an uncharacteristic off-performance. “Overall, I was wrestling a lot smarter. More conservative.”

The Indians saw two other second-place finishes on the day, with freshman Ta’Jon Knight continuing to make a name for himself at 120 and taking it all the way to the finals against CR’s Cameron Hayes, and freshman Will Rayne doing the same at 106 before being knocked out in the finals against Emmaus sophomore Peyton Brown.

Sophomore Dylan Ely took third at 113 with a 4-1 record, senior John Keller took fifth at 195, freshman Ramon Turner finished fifth at 285, and the Indians saw several other contributors throughout the lineup that proved key in their climb up the standings.

“The kids are wrestling as a team. They realize that, even if you get knocked out in one of the early rounds, you can still contribute in the wrestle backgrounds and get us points and push us up in the team standings. That’s what you need to do to be a tournament team,” Windish said, also noting as key contributors senior Grant Gano, sophomore Zach Schultz and junior Collin Donaway, with his first career varsity win.

“They work hard every day. They wanna be out there in the finals just as much as I want to and just as much as Jared wants to. We all want to be out there,” added Marcozzi. “They’re striving for it. I think, especially with Ta’Jon battling Cameron Hayes, I think he’s going to want more matches against him and he’s going to push even harder.”

Aside from Hudson taking first at 182, the Golden Knights saw first-place finishes from Rashad Stratton at 126 and Johnny Morris at 220, and second-place finishes from Drew Morris at 138, Michael Wright at 195 and Brandon Bautista at 160, after the defending state champion was upset by Reed Custer from Emmaus.

Cape’s Dante Jacquet and Zach Flores took the top spots for the Vikings at 152 and 285, respectively, and also saw senior Holden Kammerer earn a first-place finish at 195 in a 12-6 decision over Central’s Wright, in what could also very well end up a preview of the state title finals come February.

The Indians brought home this year’s Atlantic Physical Therapy Sportsmanship Award, as voted upon by the referees, which Windish said was representative of this year’s determined squad.

“It’s definitely a nice award to receive. It tells you that the officials are looking at the way your kids perform in adversity,” he said. “Our kids handle losses well, and they handle wins well. There’s something to be said about that — they win or lose the same way.”

“This weekend really showed us how we’re doing. In the practice room, it’s a whole lot different. It wasn’t until this tournament that we got to see how we stack up against other teams and how this dual season’s going to be,” added Arlett.

For seniors including Arett and Marcozzi, the tournament also showed more support from fans than they’ve seen in the past, with the excitement level up for the upcoming dual meets and for the rest of the season.

“We’ve definitely had a lot more fans show up for us. Now we have that backing where the whole community is pushing you to do better, and it’s a great feeling,” Marcozzi. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted here, for our community to be all as one out there supporting us.”

With two tournaments left to go, the Indians this week were gearing up for their first division dual meet at Laurel, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, (after Coastal Point press time).

Team results:

Sussex Central - 211.00
Cape Henlopen - 206.50
Emmaus - 203.00
Indian River - 152.00
Milford - 144.50
Caesar Rodney - 138.00
Moorestown - 107.50
Oakland Mills - 99.00
Polytech - 91.50
Susquenita - 88.00
Sussex Tech - 83.00
Charter School - 66.50
Lake Forest - 64.50
Delcastle - 27.50
Delmar - 24.00
Woodbridge - 9.00
Newark Charter - 4.00

Individual results:


1. Peyton Brown (EMM)
2. Will Rayne (IR)
3. Mike Primo (CR)
4. Javon Saffold (SC)
5. Elias Smith (CSW)
6. Isaac O’Neal (DEL)
7. Mason Rolph (ST)
8. Jalen Cornelius (OAK)


1. Robbie Rossner (MIL)
2. Kevin Browne (CR)
3. Dylan Ely (IR)
4. Colton Forrer (SISQ)
5. Jammel Copes (DEL)
6. James Bowie (EMM)
7. Danny Ramirez (SC)
8. Brandon Muniz (DELC)


1. Cameron Hayes (CR)
2. Ta’jon Knight (IR)
3. JT Lumley (MOR)
4. Ryan Walters (PT)
5. Gabe Ayala-Schray (EMM)
6. Junior Perez (SC)
7. Jace Darling (MIL)
8. Duwan Johnson (CH)


1. Rashad Stratton (SC)
2. Andre Currie (CH)
3. Jessey Muaka (CSW)
4. Brogan Louden (SUSQ)
5. Jessie O’Neal (IR)
6. Estevan Soto (MOR)
7. Chase Pavelko (EMM)
8. Bobby Stevenson (CR)


1. Jackson Dean (CR)
2. Jared Arlett (IR)
3. Kyle Farrace (OAK)
4. Max Norquest (CH)
5. Jacob Hammaker (SUSQ)
6. Liam O’Connor (DELC)
7. Jackson Karrat (EMM)
8. Gavin Garcia (MIL)


1. Chris Tenenbaum (MOR)
2. Drew Morris (SC)
3. Jacob Alvaro (EMM)
4. Noah Deneumoustier (PT)
5. Seth Flemming (LF)
6. Ben Goldfein (OAK)
7. Oscar Rosario (MIL)
8. Justin Wright (CH)


1. Tyler Corpora (EMM)
2. John Rynn (OAK)
3. Zeke Bean (CH)
4. Alex Creasley (MIL)
5. Evan Harris (PT)
6. Jaeah Yoo (CSW)
7. Riley Tracy (CR)
8. Tyler Bunting (SC)


1. Dante Jacquet (CH)
2. Caden Wright (EMM)
3. Avery Mayan (PT)
4. Max Tolson (SC)
5. Ryan Rigby (CR)
6. Sam Filler (MOR)
7. David Flanigan (CSW)
8. Dean Flemming (LF)


1. Reed Custer (EMM)
2. Brandon Bautista (SC)
3. Cory Lawson (CH)
4. Carter Lamey (CSW)
5. Jose Escobar (DELC)
6. Jon Dalmass (MOR)
7. Mikel Abdullah (CR)
8. Tarryl Sturgis (ST)


1. Dalton Group (SUSQ)
2. Chris Handlin (CH)
3. Jared Skibinski (EMM)
4. Blake Chambers (SC)
5. Nate Delmass (MOR)
6. Jake Hamer (ST)
7. Kaje Reynolds (MIL)
8. Gaij Copes (LF)


1. Lucas Hudson (SC)
2. Zeke Marcozzi (IR)
3. Paul Johnson (OAK)
4. Brock Malloomian (CH)
5. Vincent Tascione (PT)
6. Bryce Ebinger (EMM)
7. Bevensky Agustine (MIL)
8. Darvin Perez (ST)


1. Holden Kammerer (CH)
2. Michael Wright (SC)
3. Eric Bennett (MIL)
4. Robert Van Pelt (ST)
5. John Keller (IR)
6. Jacob Hadik (PT)
7. Michael Galloway (LF)
8. Jalen Egan (MOR)


1. Johnny Morris (SC)
2. Dom Hovington (MIL)
3. Bill Ott (CH)
4. Andrew Hawkins (ST)
5. Austin Kopp (SUSQ)
6. Murat Ozbay (MOR)
7. Brendon Holder (CR)
8. Khaliyl Abdul-Malik (OAK)


1. Zach Flores (CH)
2. Jordan Springer (LF)
3. Bryan Wynes (MIL)
4. Jamie Schimer (ST)
5. Kyle Boothe (OAK)
6. Ramon Turner (IR)
7. Joey Barno (EMM)
8. Matthew Gordy (PT)