The Indian River Indians varsity wrestling team added another notch to their belt by earning a second-place finish at the Delone Catholic Tournament in Pennsylvania during the Christmas break, in their third tournament of the season.
Mike Magaha (119 pounds), Darjuan Pitts (125 pounds), Sean Cummings (135 pounds), Bo Wilkinson (140 pounds) and Perry Townsend (215 pounds) each made the tournament finals and, in the end, earned individual second-place finishes.
Delphino Pascual (103 pounds) and Dominique Morris (171 pounds), who wrestled up a weight class from his natural weight of 160 pounds, earned third-place finishes.
First-year varsity wrestler Josh Hitchens (189 pounds) placed fourth, and heavyweight Zach Rector missed placing, after losing in the semi-finals of the consolation bracket.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the effort put forth from my guys,” head coach Jeff Windish said. “We just weren’t able to get the points when we needed them,” he added of the close race for the win.
Pitts had “a very legitimate chance to win in the finals,” according to Windish, but needed a takedown in the final period for the win and just “couldn’t find an opening,” which led to a 3-2 decision for a loss.
Windish indicated that, despite wrestling sick and with a pulled back muscle, that Cummings had nearly pulled off the victory.
“Sean wrestled a tough match but just couldn’t find an opening,” he said.
And after Townsend pinned his first two opponents in a little less than two and half minutes combined, to make his third consecutive finals appearance this season, he gave up a 6-0 lead in the third period to lose an 8-6 decision.
“Perry’s there. He just has to get over this mindset and get over the hump,” Windish said. “He might be one of the best, if not the best, 215-pounder in the state. He shows it in practice and he shows it in the matches. Now he just has to pull through and finish in the tournaments.”
“Perry’s a big 215-pounder. And he’s got a lot of season left, and I’m sure he’ll find a way,” Windish added.
And now the Indians have only one more tournament remaining before making a run at the dual-state, conference and state tournaments next month.
Windish is confident that his team’s recent second-place finish and the experience gained thus far this season will give them the edge as they head into the meat of their schedule — which consists of matches against Laurel, Delmar, Milford, Smyrna — and then a long stretch against the Henlopen North.
“We’re hungry. We want to win. Not only as individuals, but as a team,” Windish said. “Last year, we finished as state semi-finalists, and this year we want to take it take the next step. They want to win and continue the success we’ve had the last two years. Each match is important — there aren’t any soft matches. And they have to take every single match as a championship match.”
“We don’t want to let up and give up a win against a team that we feel we should win,” Windish added.
Indian River will wrestle three matches over the next six days, starting Jan. 5 with a home match against Delmar. But, ultimately, it could be their next home match, on Jan. 10 against last year’s Southern Conference champions Smryna, that will determine the Indians’ future.
“We’re getting a big start in our conference matches here, but the match against Smyrna could be one of our bigger matches of the year,” Windish said.
The Indian River Indians will then head off to participate in the South River Invitational in Edgewater, Md., for a two-day tournament, starting Jan. 12.