Ta’Jon Knight finished off the 2018 portion his senior campaign with a strong showing at Indian River High School’s Battle at the Beach.
The 126-pounder won a gold medal for his efforts with a 3-2 decision against Middletown’s Sidney Ndi in the championship final. Knight was one of seven Indians to place in the tournament over the two days of action.
West Chester Henderson was the overall team champion, with 206 points, while defending Delaware state champion Milford came in second, with 193. IR was seventh overall in the team standings, with 122.5 points.
“Ta’Jon wrestled very well and had a very good tournament overall,” head coach Jeff Windish said of his lone champion. “He wrestled a very tough match against Ndi, who is someone he will see again later on here in the season. It’s good to get that head-to-head win over him and keep things going in the right direction.”
Knight was a perfect 4-0 over the two-day tourney, including a pair of pins in the first two rounds. He earned a spot in the final with his 9-4 decision over Moorestown’s Evan Glynos.
IR’s Will Rayne came up just short of a first place medal in the 120-pound weight class, falling in the finals to Henderson’s Killian Delaney, via fall at 2:23. Rayne pinned his way to the championship match three times, with all of those pins coming in less a minute, to finish 3-1 for the weekend.
“Will ran into a tough kid out of Henderson there in the final,” Windish said of Rayne’s finals opponent. Delaney, he said, “is a returning Pennsylvania state finalist in their AAA bracket. He is ranked 13th in the country. Will was definitely disappointed that he kind of got caught there, but he realizes he has a little work to do to close that gap.”
Ramond Turner was third at 285 for the Indians. He dropped a 5-4 decision in the semifinals to Oakland Mills’ Aaron Smith. Turner recovered to pick up the bronze medal with a pin at 1:49 over Delmar’s Chris Elliott. Turner concluded his weekend with a 4-1 mark.
“Ramond really wrestled well this past weekend,” continued Windish. “He really piggybacked his effort off of what he did at the Beast of the East. He went 3-1 up there, and we had to injury-default him out of the tournament because we felt it was in his best interest, as he is nursing an injury. He was one match away from qualifying for the second day up there and picked up a win over a nationally-ranked guy from Blair Academy, who was the third seed up there.”
Chris Saylor was fourth for IR at 106, while Ian Shaubach (113) and Zach Schultz (195) each came away with fifth-place finishes. Dylan Ely was the last of the place winners for the Indians, coming in seventh at 132.
“As a coaching staff, we were very pleased with what we saw this past weekend,” Windish continued. “There is always room for improvement, but we certainly were pleased with how we performed.”
The Indians will travel to the Delcastle Invitational this weekend, Jan. 4-5, for another run on the tournament circuit. They will return to dual meet action with a Henlopen Conference South Division tilt on the road against Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m.
By Jason Feather