The Indian River wrestling program made their big move last season. They netted two all-state wrestlers (D.J. Singleterry/Andy Bokinsky) and two state qualifiers (Mike Willis/ Perry Townsend) and Head Coach Jeff Windish anticipates similar results this year due to an outstanding nucleus of experienced wrestlers and quality depth at each weight class.
Though the Indians lost quite possibly their strongest wrestler in Singleterry, the team as a whole is undoubtedly better. An influx of experienced freshman wrestlers help fill in the blanks at the lower weights, and a number of Indian River football players are giving it a go as high-school rookies.
As an assistant coach, Windish admitted that it’s easier to recruit for other sports when you’re around the kids most of the day. And it helps when the surrounding programs have been so successful.
“Right now we’re trying to feed off our success from the football season,” said Windish. “Our football team has some great athletes, and for our program to grow we have to work around our better programs. A lot of these guys are great athletes and wrestling can improve their skills and footbwork.”
The additions of Bryan Lynch (heavyweight class) and Phillip Townsend (215-pound class) give Windish a couple of strong and aggressive athletes to top his list. Townsend wrestled at Selbyville Middle School and now makes his high-school debut, slated to replace Singleterry.
“Phillip didn’t wrestle last year because of an injury, but he’s such a natural athlete that it will be just like on the football field. He’s going to make things happen,” said Windish.
Giving up 50 to 60 pounds each match can be tough, given the mass and strength of heavyweight wrestlers, but if anybody can do it — Lynch can.
“Bryan can be a starter for us at 275 and he’s only listed at 215,” said Windish. “He’s so aggressive that he was able to give up weight on the offensive line too.”
Lynch will compete with returning heavyweight Mario Robles and Pennsylvania transfer Jim Pulizzi for matches.
Heading down the line, 15-match winner, Perry Townsend returns at 189 pounds. In his first year wrestling, Townsend pinned three of five opponents in the conference tournament, earning fifth place, and wrestled at the state tournament. Despite his wrestling in a very competitive division — headed most notably by Dover state champion Jamelle Jones — Windish expects Townsend to lead and contend at every corner.
“D.J.’s shoes are tough to fill,” said Windish. “But with a little work, Perry could be a state champion before he graduates. He’s good. His natural athleticism and work ethic will help him compete.”
Last year’s 171-pounder, Nate Kortvelesy, graduated and now wrestles for the club team at University of Delaware. But the Indians will most definitely upgrade this year. Bokinsky stormed through the state tournament, beating every contender at the 160-pound weight class and now, a year later, moves up to 171 with all eyes on him.
“Andy’s our leader and captain not just because of what he does on the mat but because of how he carries himself,” said Windish. “The young guys want to follow in his footsteps.”
Andy’s brother, Danny Bokinsky, as well as two other freshmen, notched three of the four next weight classes. Bokinsky will wrestle at 160 or 152 pounds, depending on who else emerges in the coming weeks.
“Last year we had to wrestle up in weight classes,” said Windish. “But this year we have the numbers and experience to fill those positions.”
Harry Morris (140) and Bo Wilkinson (130) fill things out before getting to the Indians’ final state qualifier, senior captain Mike Willis (125).
Willis’s competition is Sussex Tech transfer Dominque Morris.
P.J. Barch is the front-runner for the 119-pound slot, and Windish noted that it was the varsity experience last year that helped Barch and others on their way.
“A lot of kids saw varsity experience last year and that can only help them this year,” said Windish. “P.J.’s put in a lot of work in the off-season and we’re expecting a lot from him this season.
Two-year varsity starter Sean Cummings will return at 112 pounds, and like the cherry topping off the Indians’ team sundae, Windish placed 15-match winner Mark Magaha in the 103 slot.
To ensure his wrestlers are geared up for conference matches, Windish arranged the schedule so December would be the time for that. Indian River has one scrimmage against the Charter School of Wilmington on Dec. 7 and three tournaments — one each week until the end of the month.
The Indians will travel to Stephen Decatur High School for the War on the Shore tournament on Dec. 9 and 10. The week after (Dec. 16 and 17), Indian River will host the Battle on the Beach, in which Windish’s squad will get their first real test of the season.
“There will be some out-of-state competition at the tournament, so it will be good to get some good competition and experience under our belt,” said Windish.
The Al Tiger Classic Tournament at Au DuPont High School will mark their toughest challenge and by that point Indian River will have wrestled some of the best talent in the nation.
“The Al Tiger Classic host teams from seven states. They’ll wrestle nationally-ranked teams and wrestlers. This will let us know just how good we really are,” concluded Windish.