A new year is about to commence for the Indian River High School wrestling team, but the same old goals and expectations are the focus for the 2021 campaign.
Following the delay to the start of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indians will square up on the mats for their season opener on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at Laurel beginning at 6 p.m.
Veteran head coach Jeff Windish graduated five strong members — Cristian Lopez, Tajon Knight, Chris Saylor, Will Keller and Ramond Turner — from last year’s 12-5 dual-meet team, which has created some big holes to fill.
“We will look to continue the team success that we have had over the last few seasons,” said Windish. “Our goal is always to compete for the Henlopen [Athletic Conference] Southern Division title, and this year will be no different, even with the abbreviated season. We have quite a few wrestlers who will push for individual placements in the individual state tournament in late February.”
One of the Indians’ key returnees is three-time state-qualifier Ian Shaubach at 120 pounds. The senior posted a 42-11 individual overall record last year, which included a third-place finish at the HAC individual tournament and a fifth-place medal at states.
Junior T.J. Burke also was a state qualifier a year ago, recording nearly 30 wins in the process. He will take over the 285-pound weight class spot. Burke was fourth at 220 at the HAC individual tournament last year.
Other key returnees for the Indians include seniors Colin Hudson (132), River Vickers (160) and Cris Alvarado Cruz (220), as well as junior Cole Windish (182).
A quartet of newcomers will be getting their first taste of high school varsity action this season with freshmen Steve Mayfield (106), James Esque (126) and Angel Mora Salas (145) among them, while sophomore Bryce Rickabaugh (152) is also expected to be a factor in the lineup.
Following the Laurel match, IR will return home for three straight matches, against Charter School (Saturday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m.), First State Military Academy (Wednesday, Jan. 20, 4 p.m.) and Woodbridge (Saturday, Jan. 23, 11 a.m.).
Another road date at Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. precedes three more home matches, against Newark Charter (Saturday, Jan. 30, 11 a.m.), Seaford (Wednesday, Feb. 3, 4 p.m.) and Red Lion C.A. (Wednesday, Feb. 10, 4 p.m.).
They will close out the 2021 season with dual meets against Delmar on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m., A.I. duPont on Monday, Feb. 8, at 4 p.m., and Concord on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m.
All told, the COVID-19 protocols for this season will only allow for 11 individual dual meets. There can be no three- and four-team duals, nor any in-state tournaments during the regular season, and Delaware schools cannot travel out-of-state for any tournaments either.