Milford collects 8 pins, takes control of Henlopen South with 53-15 win over Indian River

Milford’s Dominic Freightner is seconds away from pinning Joshua Edwards of Indian River in the first period of their 138-pound bout. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DAGSBORO — The Milford High wrestling team controls its own destiny.

With Wednesday night’s 53-15 dual meet statement win over division foe Indian River High, the Bucs (5-0) find themselves in the driver’s seat of the Henlopen Conference southern division.

“Our mindset doesn’t change based on who we wrestle, we just come out here and are ready to go,” said Milford junior Gaij Copes.

“Every match we want to come out and send a message to the rest of Delaware,” Milford junior Dominic Feightner said. “We never take anyone lightly, we just go out there, wrestle hard and wrestle for each other.”

An Indian River win Wednesday night would have positioned the Indians at the top of the division and just one win away from clinching the Henlopen South title.

Instead, coach Don Parsley’s Bucs can clinch the title with wins over Lake Forest High and Woodbridge High to finish the dual meet regular season.

The Bucs battle Lake Forest on the road Jan. 23 and host Woodbridge Feb. 6.

Eight wrestlers recorded pins for the undefeated Bucs, including first period pins from freshman Jack Thode (113-pound match), Feightner (138), senior Jordan Passwaters (145), freshman Dalton Deevey (152), Copes (160) and junior Bevensky Augustin (182).
Sophomores Corey Messick (106) and Rafael Mejia (170) also earned wins by pin for Milford.

“We’ve been working really hard, and I like to pin,” Parsley said.

“Historically, if you look the last three years, we pin over 60 percent of our victories. So that means six out of every 10 victories that we get, we pin. It’s a trait that we have and it’s something that we work for on a daily basis.”

Milford’s Gaij Copes puts Jacob Grab of the Indians on his back to win the 160-pound match with a pin in the first period.

Five of the Bucs’ 10 individual wins Wednesday night were earned by freshmen or sophomores, including half of the team’s eight pins.

“They’re stepping it up big time,” Copes said of the underclassmen. “They’re leading the pack right now and they set the tone for our big guys. It’s good to know our entire team is full of leaders, even the underclassmen.”

Messick and Thode opened the dual meet with pins for a 12-0 lead, but Indian River bounced back with a pin and a decision to pull to within two points.

Will Rayne (120) recorded IR’s lone pin in the third period of his bout with Milford sophomore Trent Grant, while Ta’Jon Knight (126) earned a hard-fought 5-4 decision over Milford freshman Tim O’Hara.

Milford’s Rafael Mijia controls William Keller of Indian River in the 170-pound match. Mijia won with a pin in the 2nd period.

“I knew that they were certainly good at 20 and 26. Both of my guys wrestled really great,” Parsley said. “Rayne did a nice job finishing for the fall, but it was a two-point match at the time. Tim O’Hara wrestled outstanding, Knight is one of the top guys in the state and we lost that match by one point.”

Milford lost one team point in the 120-pound bout due to unsportsmanlike conduct, allowing IR to pull to within 11-9 following the Rayne and Knight wins.

Freshman Averi Copes (132) earned an 8-3 decision over IR’s Cristian Lopez to ignite a 39-point run for the Bucs.

Six consecutive wins by pin from Passwaters, Deevey, Gaij Copes, Mejia and Augustin put Milford ahead 50-9 with just three bouts remaining.

Anthony Diaz (220) capped Milford’s night with a 7-0 decision over IR’s T.J. Burke.

Indian River’s Ta’Jon Knight trying to escape the grasp from Milford freshman Tim O’Hara in the 126-pound match. Knight won by decision 5-4.

Zach Schultz (195) and Ramond Turner (285) earned late victories for Indian River, with Schultz getting the hard-fought 12-6 decision over Milford senior Eric Bennett.

“The match at 95, we’ve wrestled that guy a number of times and he’s wrestled us tough every single time and today he was able to get the victory,” said Parsley.

Turner earned a 3-1 decision in overtime over Milford senior Jacob Bryant.

Following a tough 33-30 regular season loss to Indian River Jan. 17 of last year — a dual meet that came down to Turner in the very last bout — Milford’s wrestlers are happy to be on the other side of things this time around.

“It was kind of a rematch of last year because of course they beat us in the dual meet regular season, but we came in focused today. I’m proud of my guys,” Gaij Copes said.

“We’re looking to just go one match at a time,” said Feightner.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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