They’d been fighting and scrapping for the past two weeks, while battling injuries, illnesses and very good wrestling programs.
The Indian River High School wrestlers used those experiences to prepare and focus themselves on the challenge of the DIAA State Team Duals, which took place last weekend, Feb. 9-10.
After an impressive 53-21 win over Newark Charter, the Indians fought tooth-and-nail against powerhouse Caravel Academy, but ultimately came up short in a 43-30 decision. The loss ended their team-duals season with an overall mark of 15-5.
Caravel went on to lose to Milford, 37-30, in the championship match. It was the sixth straight DIAA Division II team-duals title for Milford. Smyrna edged out Caesar Rodney in the Division I championship final, 35-33.
In the match against Newark Charter, IR got off on the right foot when Christian Lopez pinned his opponent at 132 pounds for the early 6-0 lead. Charter then ran off four straight pins of their own to create a 24-6 advantage over the Indians.
That would be the end of success for Charter, as IR rebounded with nine successive victories to advance into the semifinals.
Jacob Grab, Zach Schultz and Ian Shaubach all won their respective matches via pinfall. T.J. Burke picked up a disqualification win at 220 pounds, which led to Charter also being deducted three team points for flagrant misconduct. Rayne Hickman and Ta’Jon Knight each picked up wins by forfeit.
Will Rayne was absolutely stellar in rounding up a 19-3 technical fall at 120 pounds, while Chris Saylor and Will Keller each added decisions to the Indians’ win totals.
In the semifinals against Caravel, the Indians found themselves in a 9-0 hole after the first two matches and were never able to recover.
Reshawn Turner picked up a win by decision at 152 pounds to make it 9-3, but then Caravel ran off three straight wins by pinfall to make it 27-3.
Schultz and Ramond Turner bookended their forfeit wins around Burke’s decision, to cut into the Caraval lead at 27-18.
However, Caravel added a pin and major decision in its next two bouts, to put the match out of reach for the Indians, at 37-18.
Rayne decked his opponent at 120 pounds in exactly one minute, and Knight followed with a forfeit to end the scoring for IR in the match.
The Indians now prepare themselves for the individual portion of the state tournament, which will take place at Cape Henlopen High School on Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23.
By Jason Feather