Quality, experienced depth is something that the Indian River High School wrestling program and its head coach, Jeff Windish, will be relying on this upcoming season.
The Indians return seven state qualifiers from a year ago — of which three were state placers — from a team that finished 16-5 overall in dual meets, including a second-place finish in the Southern Division of the Henlopen Athletic Conference.
Windish, who is coaching his 15th season overall at IR, will welcome 10 varsity starters back to the lineup, led by those three state medalists — junior Will Rayne (2nd), junior Ta’Jon Knight (3rd) and senior Zach Schultz (6th).
“Returning 10 varsity starters and seven state qualifiers from last season gives us a really good foundation to build off of last season,” Windish assessed of his team. “With the additional support from our underclassmen, and our incoming freshmen, this year’s lineup looks to be very solid.”
The Indians will open the season next weekend, Dec. 7-8, at the Delmar Invitational. There, they will begin their preparations in their quest for the South Division crown that they came so close to last year.
The lineup’s key returners include junior Chris Saylor (106), Rayne (113), sophomore Ian Shuabach (120), Knight (126), senior Dylan Ely (132), sophomore Michael Taylor (138), Turner (152), junior Will Keller (170), Schultz (195) and junior Ramond Turner (285). Rayne, Shaubach, Knight, Ely, Turner, Schultz and Turner were the seven state qualifiers from a year ago to whom Windish alluded as foundation pieces for this season.
“The last two seasons, we’ve finished as the Division II state runners-up  and Division II state semifinalists ,” Windish said. “This season, the goal is to build upon that success and challenge for the Division II state title.”
There is a very talented group of newcomers also looking to make their marks this season. Those include seniors Jake Grab (160) and Matt Zimmerman (182), juniors Cody Edwards (138), Josh Edwards (145) and Jose Perez (160), sophomores Colin Hudson (120) and Jalen Holland-Holloway (145), and freshmen Cole Windish (145), Dalton Hall (182) and T.J. Burke (220).
Cole Windish and Hall both had impressive final seasons in the middle-school ranks, with Hall taking first place in the conference meet, while Windish took home third-place honors.
The Indians will open their dual-meet season on the road with a battle against Laurel on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. Two nights later, they will square off with another road tilt against Hodgson at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14.
IR’s first home contest will take place right before the Christmas break, when they will host Woodbridge on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 3 p.m. It will be Teacher Appreciation Day at the match.
Windish will be assisted this season by Jacob Miller, Steve Wilkinson, Phillip Townsend and Matt Selba.
By Jason Feather