Indian River wrestling is off to a hot start after annihilating Charter Wilmington 81-0 on Dec. 7 and placing sixth out of 21 teams at the War on the Shore tournament on Dec. 9 and 10. Seven Indian River wrestlers placed in the top eight in the tournament, with Andy Bokinsky and Mike Magaha grabbing first and second place, respectively.
Their crushing victory over Wilmington Charter was highlighted by three forfeits, a major decision by Mike Willis (wrestling at 125 pounds) and a 15-0 tech-pin by Bokinsky (171). More importantly, it gave the freshman their first taste of varsity action.
Bo Wilkinson (130) and Danny Bokinsky (160) earned their first varsity victories, both by way of pin, which bodes well for the future according to Head Coach Jeff Windish.
“It’s always good when your first win is a pin,” he said. “It builds their confidence going into the season.”
Wilkinson placed seventh in the War on the Shore tournament, winning two matches by way of pin. But what was really impressive was the way he rebounded from a 12-2 major decision loss to Stephen Decatur’s Adrian Deward.
“Bo wrestled two really tough kids. But after losing (two straight) he wrestled strong, which is what is important,” said Windish. “In a tournament you have to have the attitude to wrestle back and place, and Bo did that.”
P.J Barch, Perry Townsend and Bryan Lynch each placed fifth, to continue their winning seasons. Townsend and Lynch both notched three pins at varying speeds. Lynch’s first pin only took 13 seconds, while his last match finished with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. Two of Townsend’s pins came in the nick of time. His last two matches came with one and three seconds remaining, respectively, despite his lacking the necessary conditioning early in the season.
Townsend and his brother Phillip showed signs of fatigue, also due to a lack of practice and conditioning, but the tournament was a success for IRHS nonetheless.
“Our upper-weights have only had a week and a half of practice, and most of their competition has been practicing for the past three weeks,” said Windish. “But Perry doesn’t like to lose and will leave it all out on the mat. He’s the kind of leader we need on this team.”
Barch, in Windish’s opinion, should have wrestled for first place and he was right. After destroying Curley’s Camerion Torres, 14-6, for a major decision, he let a sure victory slip away as the match expired.
Matched-up against Annapolis-area Christian’s Adam Palumbo, Barch and his opponent jockeyed back and forth for much of the match.
After trailing in the first two periods, Barch’s perseverance paid off and he was able to score a reverse to take the lead at 5-4 with less than a minute remaining. But it would be short-lived. Palumbro stayed active, too, scoring a reverse and securing the pin with two seconds remaining.
Barch learned from his mistake and went on to win his next two matches by way of pin and decision.
Like his second match, Barch was behind deep into the third period but he stayed active and was able to secure a reverse, giving him a 3-2 advantage for the come-from-behind victory.
“I tried to go for the pin in my loss, even though I had the lead. And I learned that its OK to stall when you have the lead,” explained Barch.
Steady off-season workouts and having the knack for adapting and implementing new strategies lead directly to the result of his 5-1 regular-season record.
Bokinsky looked like he didn’t even break a sweat in his new weight class and showed why he was a state champion last year. Pin, tech fall, major decision — all ways he dispatched opponents.
He stayed true to his strategy of feeling out his opponent in the first period and then turned it on when he needed to.
“I’m not too concerned with scoring points in the first period but by the end of the match I guarantee he’ll be tired. Everybody has a breaking point — you just have to know your stuff and be aggressive,” Bokinsky said.
Bokinsky put the screws to each opponent he faced. Multiple times, he scored three point pin combinations in a match, and his finals match against Harford Tech’s Jeff Gardner was no different.
Up 12-0 and on his way to a major decision, Bokinsky showed mercy and pushed his defeated opponent away at the end of the match that gave him his only score.
“Andy had him on his back three times,” said Perry Townsend. “Andy pushed the kid away and the referee gave him an escape even though it wasn’t.”
Bokinsky, like Barch, in his final match decided better not take a chance. Gardner’s record last year was 33-10 and he was the Maryland regional runner-up.
“I didn’t want to get caught in anything,” concluded Bokinsky.
Magaha notched some quality wins together as well to pick up where he left off last season. He scored a 14-3 pin in the final 30 seconds of the final period and a 5-3 decision over St. Joseph’s Austin Clouse.
He matched up against Colonial Forge’s Shane Gentry (8-0 this year) in the finals, but Magaha fell short.
“His opponent was the No. 1 Virginia state champ in the private league and was a solid opponent, but he shouldn’t have won. Mikey dominated from get-go and you could see that his guy was close to his breaking point. He kept going and going but couldn’t win,” Windish said.
P.J. Barch placed eighth in the 125-pound division as well.
Overall, the tournament strengthened conclusions Windish and his staff already had drawn — that they have a solid, well-rounded squad and that they can contend with any team.
“We don’t have a weak-spot like we did last year,” explained Windish. “Every team has a spot where you don’t match up. But we feel that we can wrestle with anybody in the state.”
Indian River was set to travel to face the Dover Senators on Dec. 14, in what could be a preview of the State Dual tournament.
“It’s important that we keep it up going into Dover,” Barch said. “If we can win that match, then we kind of validate ourselves.”
Following their trip to Dover, Indian River will host their first Battle at the Beach tournament, with 13 schools from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey in attendance.
“Virginia and Maryland both have high-caliber programs, and New Jersey is tops in wrestling year-in-year-out,” Windish said. “They’ll bring state qualifiers and placers from last year, so it’s going to be tough.”
PolyTech, Cape Henlopen and Laurel will represent the Delaware schools.
The opening ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. on Dec. 16 and wrestling is set to begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. Admission costs $5 per day or $12 for the weekend. Concessions and memorabilia will be available.