Grapplers start out strong

Indian River wrestling continued their hot start to the season by defeating Dover 45-32 in their first conference match and placing second behind New Jersey’s Howell High School at their first annual Battle at the Beach tournament on Dec. 16 and 17.

Howell clearly led the pack at the tourney. They scored 319 team points and had five tournament winners. In addition, they posted three second-place finishers, four third-place finishers and two fourth-place finishers. That gave them a healthy lead over Indian River, which finished second with 214.5 team points.

“Coming in, as a team I wanted us to finish in the top 10,” Indian River Head Coach Jeff Windish said. “I knew we were somewhere in the middle of the pack but I think the kids finally realize they can wrestle with high-caliber programs.”

Indian River placed sixth out of 21 schools in the War on the Shore tournament at Stephen Decatur on Dec. 9 and 10, and many of their contributing young wrestlers stepped up their performances.

Andy Bokinsky (wrestling at 171 pounds) and P.J. Barch (119) won their respective weight classes and were two of 12 Indian wrestlers that placed in the Battle of the Beach tournament. Bryan Lynch (heavyweight), Mike Magaha (103), Sean Cummings (112) and Mike Willis (125) snagged third-place honors in their respective weight classes.

Perry Townsend (189) improved one spot from the War on the Shore tournament and earned fourth place while his brother, Phillip (215), and Danny Bokinsky (160) pulled down fifth place finishes. Domininque Morris (145) earned sixth place and Luke Saylor (135) placed eighth for the second straight tournament.

“It’s good that some of the young guys have the confidence and the momentum going into conference matches,” Perry Townsend said. “We only have four seniors and only two of those are starters. So it’s good for the young guys and good for the team.”

Polytech earned third place (183.5) in the tournament and Indian River got some good face-time with their conference rival.

Down three points going into the third period, Sean Cummings defeated Josh Hall in a 9-7 decision to win third-place honors. Phillip Townsend pinned Evan McBride with 54 seconds remaining in the second period to earn fifth-place honors.

Bryan Lynch earned two comeback wins in the Battle of the Beach but one of those wins wouldn’t have been possible without the other. Lynch jumped out to a two-point advantage following a lead-off takedown, but Broden Mears rocked him into a pin position to jump out to a 5-2 lead. Lynch reversed out, with the match 5-4, but Lynch was called for an illegal hand hold at 6-4. Lynch pinned Mears with 14 seconds left in the second period.

His next match, against Howell’s Warren Lisa, went much the same. Lynch was outweighed and appeared outmatched, but the scrappy heavyweight kept his motor running for a dramatic come-from-behind pin with 23 seconds remaining in the second period.

The Laurel Bulldogs placed eighth out of 16, but had three wrestlers place in the top three slots. Malcom West (HW) won a 4-2 decision over St. Joseph’s Drew Dunnett. West advanced through the winners’ bracket after beating Lynch due to uncontrollable bleeding. Robert Reed (160) slayed Howells Frank Mormino 11-7 for top-dog honors.

Andy Bokinsky (171) defeated Antwon Trimble easily in a 15-0 tech-fall pin. Trimble earned second-place honors.

Indian River wrestlers hope to keep the ball rolling over the holiday break, when they travel to participate in the A.I. DuPont wrestling tournament on Dec 28 and 29. According to Windish, it is “second only to the Beast of the East tournament.”

“There will be a lot of good competition — both good teams and wrestlers,” he said.