Every 17 years the cicadas come out of their slumber to make a lot of racket, and every 15 years at Indian River High School the wrestling program makes some noise of their own, putting out a couple of state champions. Last weekend, D.J Singleterry (215) and Andy Bokinsky (160) ran the table — winning all of their matches on their way to earn their first state championships.
Gerald Knox and Preston Turnage were Indian River’s last pair of state champions, back in 1990.
The state tournament, held last weekend, was loaded with talent, but Andy Bokinsky redeemed his earlier losses, pinning each of his foes, to earn his first state championship. Four straight pins, which included an overtime pin versus Smyrna’s #2 Brian Fletcher to get to the final, and the only pin of the championship round — defeating Caesar Rodney’s Dan Rigby.
Andy Bokinsky finished the season 30-4, but three of his losses were at the hands of Fletcher and Rigby. Fletcher beat Bokinsky twice — once at the Delmarva Classic and, most recently, at the Division Dual meet — but he apparently had learned from his earlier mistakes.
“Fletcher isn’t very aggressive, so I just kept up the pressure and I knew he would gas out,” said Bokinsky. Both wrestled close to eight minutes — not an easy task.
The championship match versus Rigby was almost magic. Down 0-4 going into the second period, Bokinsky didn’t seem to be the least bit rattled, despite being in his first championship. You could see a noticeable smile on Bokinsky’s face as he squared off with the top-ranked Rigby.
“I was so relaxed that I wasn’t worried at all,” said Bokinsky. “I knew I would get my shot.” Sure enough, Bokinsky did get his shot and ran with it — pinning Rigby in 4:32. The crowd erupted as the unexpected came to pass.
“This might be one of the most impressive state tournaments for an individual. He didn’t have a really good draw, and had to beat few good kids, but to pin a kid he had already lost to twice to get into the finals was even more impressive,” said head coach Jeff Windish.
D.J. Singleterry followed up Bokinsky’s epic win with a great finish to his high school career, defeating St. Marks Kenny Zell by decision.
Singleterry finished the season with a perfect 35-0 record and the state championship.
“Anything less than a state championship would be a disappointment with the season he had,” said Windish. “He had some tough competition, and beating Collin (Delmar) was another feather in his hat. Beating Zell was a great way for him to end his season.”
When faced with the question who he would rather wrestle — Pierson, his toughest match, or a more athletic and unknown Zell — Singleterry chose Zell.
“I’ve wrestled Pierson before so he knows my stuff, but Zell doesn’t know my moves,” said Singleterry.
That statement was proved to hold true as Singleterry coasted to his first state championship. As usual, Singleterry was able to dominate his opponent and score at will. “He kept trying to underhook me, but I took advantage of this and just maintained my strategy,” said Singleterry.
The Indians other wrestlers, sophomore Perry Townsend (189) and junior Mike Willis (119), had a tough — but good — experience at their first ever state tournament.
This is Townsend’s first year wrestling and he has shown a ton of potential, especially down the stretch going into the postseason. “Perry has worked very hard and he turned it on here at the end,” said Windish.
Townsend earned his way to the state tournament by winning three matches by way of pin to earn 5th place in the conference tournament. In the state tournament Townsend won his initial two matches, but lost a tough match to Cape Henlopen’s Brian Riggin.
“It’s only his first year wrestling, so it’s a great opportunity to experience the crowd and all the excitement,” said assistant coach David Hudson.
Townsend will make certain he makes it further next season as he furthers his wrestling training in the off-season.
“Coach told me that if I give him one day a week, then he’ll promise me results. I’ll also keep lifting for football. We have about 15-20 guys in there everyday,” said Townsend.
Mike Willis won his first only match versus Caravels’ Nick Minchini by way of a 6-3 decision. “Mike caught a tough draw in the tournament and had to wrestle some tough kids,” said Windish.
One victory in a state victory is a great foundation to build on for next season. “With a little work he’ll definitely improve,” said Windish.
Willis came on strong during the division tournament, winning four of his six matches to win 5th place in the consolation round. Willis defeated Milford’s Ricky Good for the second time to win the consolation round by a score of 10-3. Willis pinned Good with only 13 seconds remaining in the match to move him to the quarterfinals to face Caesar Rodney’s Alex Meade.
Willis’ late emergence has bided well for the Indians down the stretch, as Indian River has struggled with consistency at the lower weights. Willis has moved in and out of the lineup throughout the season and appears to have established himself as a main cog on the Indians squad.
The recent success the wrestling team has achieved just might be the spark to ignite their up-and-coming program.
“This year is the beginning of a new era for sports at Indian River,” said head coach Jeff Windish.
This season’s success hopes to attract athletes from other sports to help build a great program. “Hopefully, some of our football players will come out for the team,” said assistant coach Harold Walters.
“This season our wrestling program has caught a second wind,” added Indian River’s principal Mark Steele. “I see us being very competitive for many years to come.”
Indian River’s athletic success this year appears to be a direct result from their new and improved weight room.
“Five years ago we had 12 students in a weight training class — now we have 30 to a class with seven classes and a bunch on the waiting list,” said head football coach Jim Bunting.
“We’ve had our new weight room for four years now and all of our athletic programs are very competitive because of their increased strength,” said Steele.
Increased strength and a boatload of kids trying out for the team is a great way to build a program, but none of this would be possible without Windish.
“Coach Windish is not only a terrific guy and a great teacher, he’s a great example for the kids. He’s very positive with the kids and is willing to them how to correct their mistakes,” said Steele.
After defeating Zell for the championship, Singleterry was quick to credit the man partly responsible for his success.
“You can’t take anything away from coach Windish. He’s a great coach,” said Singleterry.
Principal Steele credits Windish’s approach to coaching for a great deal of the wrestling team’s success this season.
“The kids had a tremendous season because coach Windish didn’t put a lot of pressure on them,” said Steele. “They had an opportunity to relax and that seemed to help.”