Indian River High School head wrestling Coach Jeff Windish has a luxury this season: depth.
He has a heap of able-bodied experienced wrestlers on this year’s team and the flexibility to move them up and down the lineup from match to match to increase their chances of repeating and improving on the program’s success over the past few years.
Indian River lost state champion runner-up Andy Bokinsky (189) and its heavyweight platoon of Bryan Lynch and Mario Robles to graduation but returns 12 of 14 starters from last year’s team, including six state-tournament qualifiers, and has at least 40 wrestlers in the junior varsity and varsity program.
“We had quite a few numbers come out this year,” Windish said. “So it’s nice to have that depth. Throughout the lineup we’re at least two deep, and in some places we’re three and four deep — and that becomes a factor because it makes the whole team a stronger unit.”
Currently, only a few of the Indians wrestlers have cemented permanent positions in the lineup but a lot could change.
Delphino Pascual (103), state runner up Mike Magaha (119), freshman Matt McDowell (160), first-year high school wrestler Josh Hitchens (171) and Perry Townsend (189-215) are tentatively listed as starters at their respective weight classes.
Windish envisions Darjuan Pitts, David Harkness and Sean Cummings rotating in the 125-135-pound divisions and Bo Wilkinson, P.J. Barch, Dominique Morris and Danny Bokinsky doing the same in the 140-160-pound range.
“You’ll notice that I haven’t really said who’s going to start where, but I have a pretty good idea where they’ll wrestle,” Windish said. “But pretty much it’s going to be based on match-ups.”
Zack Rector, Tarez Cheers and Justin Edwards are vying for the 215-pound and heavyweight slots.
And though Windish mentioned what seems like only a few names, Indians wrestling fans can rest assured there are plenty waiting in the wings who could push for starting positions and, if nothing else, will benefit from learning from some of the veterans on the team.
“Having depth will benefit us because if you have three of four guys at each weight class then they will have a chance to work with guys at their caliber and weight,” Townsend said.
Indian River is eager to start the regular season and improve on last year’s second-place finish in the Southern Henlopen Conference. The team will have an opportunity to get some good work in against some top-flight talent when they kick off their season with the War on the Shore Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Stephen Decatur.
The following weekend, the Indians will host 24 teams from along the eastern seaboard — up from 16 teams last year — in their second annual Battle at the Beach tournament. The Indians placed second to New Jersey’s Howell High School in the Battle at the Beach tournament last year.
And Indian River has two matches with Dover and Concord sandwiched in between the tournaments, which should be a good litmus test for where they are as a team.
“We’re looking to build on every event we wrestle,” Windish said. “And these tournaments should be a good indicator of where we are.”