Going into the matchup against undefeated Sussex Central High School on Wednesday, Feb. 3, Indian River High School wrestling coach Jeff Windish knew that his squad was in for a tough bout. But he also knew that his own undefeated wresters — including senior Mitchell Bolton, junior Jared Arlett, and junior Zeke Marcozzi — would go out there and get wins, just like they always do, giving the Indians a chance at taking the dual if they could pull out a few other weight classes.
“Mitchell, Jared and Zeke are clicking right now. When they go out, I expect them to get six points for the team, and they know that walking out on the mat,” Windish explained. “I’m proud of the way we came out. We knew there were some matches that we had on paper, and then we were hoping to pick up a couple other ones on the back side.”
While the Indians would eventually end up falling to the Golden Knights 61-18, they got six points from the usual suspects, just as Windish had expected — with Bolton, Arlett and Marcozzi all getting the fall and remaining undefeated in dual meets this season.
The first points of the night would come from Bolton — who, despite dealing with a few nagging injuries, tied the match at 6-6 with a fall against Central’s Andres Montes at 113, in 1:10.
“I just knew that I wanted to get it done quick and not be on the mat for long. I didn’t want to injure myself again before conferences,” Bolton said. “[Montes] was leading the ankle, so I went for the ankle pick and it worked.”
After Bolton’s pin, Arlett went on to give the Indians the lead in the next weight class up, mounting a convincing slam against Tyler Malone in just 0:19. They’d go on to fall behind on the scoreboard after that, however, getting their final points on the night when Marcozzi went out at 160 to take down Tyler Bunting in 0:41.
But while the loss might seem lopsided, considering the final score, Windish commended a few of his less-experienced wrestlers for their efforts in going up against some of the state’s top-ranked contenders.
“John Keller wrestled an outstanding match. If he had started that turnaround in the second period, I think there would have been enough time that we could have eked it out, but I’m proud of the way he wrestled — he gutted it out,” said Windish of the match at 195, which ended in a 7-2 decision. “Arturo [Salas] wrestled an outstanding match, too — just got caught in a couple bad spots, but he fights.”
“With Arturo, this is his first year wrestling in high school. He’s really showing a lot of improvement. He’s definitely nice to have on the team,” added Bolton. “We all knew that Central was gonna be a tough match, but we knew that they were looking past us and we wanted to go out there and wrestle, no matter who was out there in front of us. There were some good matches.”
The loss dropped the Indians to 4-6 on the season and advanced the Golden Knights to 9-0 headed into their dual against No. 1 Smyrna. But Windish said the fight from less-experienced wrestlers, such as Keller and Salas and throughout the rest of his squad, was encouraging as they gear up for the Henlopen Conference championships and state tournament.
“Over the course of the season, these kids have really come together and clicked as a family. They pull for each other, not just in the matches, but they work with each other in the wrestling room,” he said. “If they’re struggling with something, these guys help each other out. That’s what you want, from a coaching standpoint. You want these kids that are willing to fight for each other no matter what, and I think we saw that tonight.”
After their last division battle of the season against Woodbridge on Wednesday, Feb. 10, (after Coastal Point press time), the Indians are set to host Sanford School in their final dual meet of the season. That match will be held at home on Friday, Feb. 12, and starts at 5 p.m.