Indian grapplers suffer first loss of season

Each season is marked by wins and losses and Jan. 10 marked the first loss for Indian River’s wrestling program this season. Indian River fell to conference titan Smyrna 46-26 and Caravel 40-30. State champion Andy Bokinsky lost his first match of season to Luke Robertus. But that’s OK, according to Head Coach Jeff Windish.

“The score, really, in the Smyrna match wasn’t indicative of how close the match really was,” explained Windish.

Dominique Morris (wrestling at 145 pounds) let a 3-2 match slip away only to get pinned, and Phillip Townsend (215) fell even further. He was up 12-2 but succumbed and was pinned.

“A 12-point swing makes a difference in a close match,” said Windish. “I’m not disappointed with the loss. Smyrna is a perennial powerhouse and to keep it close and put 26 points on the board meant we put on a good show.”

Windish noted that P.J. Barch’s (119) loss to Mike Garzon was a pivotal match that they were counting on for the team victory.

“P.J. wasn’t 100 percent and lost to a kid when we kind of figured it would’ve gone our way, but he gutted it out,” said Windish.

He was pleased with the improvement of Bo Wilkinson, who rebounded from an earlier loss to Smyrna’s Charlie Poffenberger at the AI Tiger Classic. Wilkinson held on to win the decision 4-2.

“It was a hard-fought match,” said Windish. “As coaches, we were really focused on teaching him how he could beat that kid. He’s very coachable and he’ll get better his whole career.”

The win or loss rested in the hands of the individual wrestler against Smyrna but not in the Caravel match. Caravel won the coin flip, which enabled them to manipulate the match-ups in their favor.

“When we sent out Mike (Magaha), Caravel sent out the weaker of their two 103-pounders, which sent their strongest wrestler to 112 pounds,” explained Windish.

Caravel also sent up their 160-pounder, Luke Robertus, to face Bokinsky in what would be a “battle of technicians,” according to Windish.

“Both kids are really good technicians but Luke came out on top,” he said. “It’s disappointing that Andy won’t have an opportunity to wrestle for an undefeated record but when you’re a state champion — you have an enormous target on your back and everyone wants to beat you. The loss is actually better than the win because Andy will use it to build off and make him work harder. We saw that with Fletcher and Rigby.”

Fletcher and Rigby handed Bokinsky three of his four regular-season losses but he redeemed himself in the state tournament by defeating both of them.

Indian River will travel to Polytech on Jan. 18 and Cape Henlopen on Jan. 20 for two matches “that we need to win,” according to Windish.