Davis puts up five goals, L. Haden six assists
It was a game of firsts.
Not only did the Indian River High School girls’ lacrosse team earn their first win of the season, rolling Red Lion 11-2 on Saturday, March 25, but first-year players, including senior midfielder Erin Haden and freshman attacker Kaylee “K-Hall” Hall, scored their first career goals.
After the majority of the first half of the matchup went scoreless, it was Haden who managed the game’s first goal and finally sparked the offense, finding the net on a free position and getting some redemption after what she had initially thought was her first career goal, in a game against Polytech on Thursday, March 23.
“I got a goal on Thursday, but they blew the whistle and it got called back, and I didn’t get another one,” Haden explained. “So I was pretty happy to get my first goal this game.”
After getting the season started with a 9-0 win over Sussex Central on Thursday, March 23, the Indian River High School girls’ soccer drew the short straw in a close contest with Caesar Rodney on Tuesday, March 28, falling to the Riders 3-2.
The early-season stumble aside, the Indians may well see the Riders in the Henlopen Conference Championship again, for a third straight year, later this season, as they aim to bring a home a fourth straight Henlopen South division title.
“I think the girls understood how well they played. They know that CR was tested, and CR knows that they were tested,” said head coach Steve Kilby after the March 28 match. “We’ll press on for the rest of our season and, hopefully, we’ll see them again.”
SMS girls’ soccer going for second straight undefeated season
They may have lost the majority of their starting defense from last season, but that doesn’t mean that the Selbyville Middle School girls’ soccer team plans on losing any game this one, as the Indians aim to put together their second straight undefeated season and third in program history, under head coach Neil Barch.
“The goal has always been to win them all,” said Barch. “I try not to put that pressure on them, but I think they do think that they don’t want to let down the tradition of the school.”
So far, that goal looks to be as attainable as ever, with the Indians getting the season started with an 8-1 win over Delmar on Wednesday, March 22, and an 8-0 win over Seaford on Monday, March 27.
It’s the exact way last season started, with early-season losses to perennial powerhouse Caesar Rodney and Henlopen South rival Delmar.
Also last season, however, the Indian River High School golf team bounced back by winning five out of their next six matchups, which is exactly what they aim to do now after falling to the Riders on Thursday, March 23, and the Wildcats on Tuesday, March 28.
“The kids know what they have to do to improve, and they will,” said head coach Billy Wingate. “It’s early. We have a good team this season. We just have to get the scores down and get off of the 200 mark, down to the 190s.”
In the opener against Caesar Rodney at Cripple Creek last Thursday, the Indians finished shooting a 204 on the day, with senior Gavin Gates earning the low score on the day, with a 48.
Tripple Overtime: Kyrie and Shaq think the earth is flat, and so can you (science is a liar sometimes)
I’m not going to stand here and present some egghead scientific argument based on fact. I’m just a regular dude. I like to watch football, quote Chevy Chase movies and crank the radio when Motley Crüe comes on. Rock, flag and eagle, if you know what I mean.
Seniors ready to leave legacy, elevate IR lax to next level
Goalkeeper Hayden McWilliams was one of two freshmen starting on a senior-dominated Indian River High School lacrosse squad when he emerged as the team’s emotionally-charged leader.
As the only other freshman on that team, and standing next to him in the halftime huddle, George Martin remembers the moment well.
“I’ll never forget it,” said Martin. “We’re two freshmen surrounded by that senior group that had been playing together for a long time, and it was a close game. Hayden steps right into the middle of the dogpile and says, ‘Alright, guys — this is what we gotta do. We gotta take the ball, and we gotta put it in the back of their net.’ It’s something about the way he delivers his speeches that gets everyone fired up. He’s really got a way with words.”
It’s a particularly special season for head coach Erika Murphy and the Indian River High School softball team.
After she took over as head coach for the Indians in 2014, along with assistant coaches Abi Givens and Catherine Bennett, this year’s senior class will be the first that the coaching trio has seen all the way through from their days as freshmen.
After back-to-back 9-9 seasons, 2014 was also the last time that the Indians made it to the playoffs — a feat that now-seasoned seniors including Mackenzie Collins, Madi McGee and Sami Mumford aim to accomplish once again before closing out the final chapters of their careers.
“The seniors this year are good role models, on the field and off the field. They’re players that the girls looked up to. That’s what we’re looking for in role models — to help develop that team chemistry,” said Murphy. “There’s just a good feeling this year. The girls really want it, and they’ve been working hard from Day 1.”
For Lydic, countdown to Augusta is on
It has been decreed.
Next Sunday, April 2, will officially be recognized as “Sarah Lydic Day,” as proclaimed by Mayor Walter Curran and the Town of Ocean View, in honor of the 11-year old Lord Baltimore Elementary School student as she sets off to represent her community at the national finals of this year’s Drive, Chip & Putt Challenge at the home of the Masters in Augusta, Ga.
But while making it to Augusta to compete against the nation’s top young talent may warrant the honor on its own, Lydic and her older sister, Hannah Lydic, have made their impact on the local community and members of their home course at Bear Trap Dunes, far beyond the 18th hole, since stepping onto the local golf scene.
“Most of the members of the club are of an age where they have grandkids. These are two additional grandkids,” said Curran, a Bear Trap member himself. “They’re part of the family. They’re polite, they’re well behaved, they’re not only good at what they do, but they’re just great kids. Their parents have done a wonderful job raising them.”
Coming off a down season in 2016, and with the Henlopen South division wide open in 2017, the Indian River High School boys’ tennis team is ready for redemption and to return the title to Dagsboro behind a squad of seasoned veterans.
Not only does the team bring back four seniors to the starting rotation but also head coach Mariano Woo for his second year at the helm.
After getting a late start last spring due to some unfavorable weather and bureaucratic red tape, things have been smooth sailing so far this spring as the Indians get ready for their first match of the season.
“We’re leaps and bounds ahead from starting last season,” said Woo. “Last year, I didn’t actually become the official coach until about a week prior to the first match, so it was much easier this year — plus, they’re all sophomores and above this year, so they’re more experienced.”
They may have graduated six seniors from a Henlopen South championship squad last season, but after seeing their biggest turnout in years, the Indian River High School girls’ tennis team is ready to defend the title behind an array of new talent and new stars ready to step up.
“There’s a lot of underclassmen. We only have two seniors, but we have a lot of exhibition players from last year that are moving into varsity spots,” said fourth-year head coach Stefanie Riddle. “Just in the preliminary lineup, we’ve got half of our exhibition players moving up to varsity, but they’ve all really improved. I really think that they’re going to be able to help us.”
While the team said goodbye to their top two players from 2016 — first-singles player Hannah Shultie and second-singles player Kayla Huebner — they do return sophomore Alexa Fitz to lead the charge.
IR softball raising money for pediatric cancer
The Indian River High School softball team is offering fans and community activists an interactive way to make a difference, raising money for the “Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer” campaign during the 2017 season.
After recording her first NCAA career hit earlier this month, Indian River High School graduate and current University of Hartford freshman Eliza Bomhardt tallied her first career home run in the second inning of a game against Saint Peter’s on Monday, March 20.
Then, in the seventh inning of the same game, she tallied her second.
After the team fell behind 1-0 early, Bomhardt’s second-inning shot scored two runs, to put the Hawks up 2-1.
The Peacocks would go on to rack up seven runs in the fourth inning and take control of the game with an 8-5 lead.
That’s when “The Lizard” took the plate — this time to knock a three-run homer and give her squad a 10-8 lead, sparking a 10-run rally as the Hawks went on to pull out an eventual 15-9 victory in comeback fashion.
It’s a phrase I never imagined I’d be able to use with a straight face: “Man — I could really use the help of R. Chris Clark right about now.”
Gerken, Conover, Mercer inducted as first IR soccer HOF class
There are two stars adorning the sleeves of Indian River High School soccer jackets. The stars stand as symbols — the program’s way of honoring its rich history and two state championship teams: the first in 2013, the other in 2015.
Recently, however, the Soccer Boosters at Indian River came up with a new way of honoring past stars — the ones who aren’t specifically mentioned on the prideful coats of current IR soccer lettermen and coaches yet still shine brightly from their days in green and gold and as one of the main reasons for the program’s development and continued success.
Last Thursday, March 9, three of those stars — Howard Gerken, Christopher Conover and Josh Mercer — got a chance to shine once again when they were officially honored as the first class of the Indian River High School Soccer Hall of Fame.
Indians set sights on South title
On his first day of practice after taking over the Indian River High School baseball team, first-year head coach D.J. Long told his squad of his playing days at long-time district rival Sussex Central.
Understandably, he was booed.
But while the gesture was made in jest, it also served as the ice-breaking introduction for the former-Golden Knight-turned-Indian, as he swaps out the blue in his blue-and-gold for green, boos for cheers, and aims to get the Indians back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“It is different. I did have to update my wardrobe — it was all blue and gold,” said Long with a laugh. “Now, the Central game is definitely going to be a game I look forward to. I’m excited for that.”
Bear Trap Dunes to host Drive, Chip & Put viewing party
Ocean View’s very own Sarah Lydic will soon be headed to Augusta for the national finals of the Drive, Chip & Putt challenge; and her home club at Bear Trap Dunes is ready to watch her tee off on the national stage.
Bear Trap will host a viewing party and brunch at their restaurant, The Den at Bear Trap Dunes, where fans can watch the event unfold live on the Golf Channel and celebrate the occasion when it gets under way next month.
Lydic earned her way to the home of the Masters after placing first overall in the Girls’ 10-11 division at a regional qualifying event held at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.
Last year, there was a new team. This year, there’s a new attitude.
Relying heavily on seasoned vets, such as Blue-Gold All-Star selection Emiley Shuey, in 2016, first-year head coach Kelsea Ayers and an inexperienced Indian River High School girls’ lacrosse squad still managed to win five games during their varsity season.
But despite graduating their leading scorer, the new-look Indians are aiming to double their win total and make a run at the playoffs this spring, with a full year of experience and new commitment to getting the program off the ground.
“Last year, as a beginning team, it was definitely more of relying on just a couple of players. This year, we’ve all improved as a team, so I don’t think this year will be just one person stepping up — I think it will be more of a whole team coming together,” explained senior Lexi Haden. “Instead of one person taking [Shuey’s] place, it’s going to be all 12 of us on the field being one.”
Bomhardt back on the diamond, tallies first career NCAA hit, run
Tripple Overtime: How Emilio Estevez may or may not have inspired female hockey players from the Middle East and/or everywhere
Emilio Estevez. You either love him, hate him, are completely indifferent to him, are somewhat indifferent to him, have another unspecified opinion of varying nature about him, or have no idea who he is. He’s just one of those classic ’80s movies stars where there is no in-between.
IR competitive cheer team ‘brings on’ first state title since 1984
The Indian River High School competitive cheerleading team knew they were going to have to “bring it on” when they took the mats at Smyrna High School for the state championships last Sunday, March 5. Luckily for them, it had already “been brought."
An impromptu performance in front of the entire school at a pep rally held on Thursday, March 2, paved the way for one of the team's top performances of the season at states just three days later, and helped bring home the school’s first state championship for competitive cheer since 1984.
“It was strategic. I didn’t want them to get comfortable,” said head coach Kaitlyn Donofrio of notifying her squad of the pep rally appearance the day before. “Every time you perform in front of people it helps.”
“We were nervous so we didn’t do our best. Two of our stunts fell,” said sophomore Gabby Hudson of that Thursday performance. “It just showed us that we needed to work harder before states.”
So, that’s what the Indians did as they prepared for their final performance of the season on Sunday, stabilizing their stunts and nailing their routine to eventually hoist the trophy in the co-ed division.
“I think everybody’s really excited,” said sophomore Lauren Grow. “Everybody was really excited on the bus ride there. At our last competition, at Lake Forest, it had been a little bit shaky, but then our warm-ups were really, really good, so everybody was feeling really good. We went out and performed, and I think it went a lot better.”
After down seasons, IR wrestling returns to top
It’s been, without a doubt, a history-making season for the Indian River High School wrestling team.
Not only did the Indians post their first winning record on the regular season since 2011 and their best regular-season record since before that at 16-3, not only did they see their first Henlopen Conference championship since 2011, in 106-pound freshman Will Rayne, and advance all the way to the state-duals — the Indians even saw senior co-captain Zeke Marcozzi break the school’s all-time wins record, with 133 career wins.
They also saw senior co-captain Jared Arlett nearly become the sixth wrestler in IR history to eclipse the 100-career wins mark, finishing just three short, with 97 on his career.
Delaware’s biggest road-race weekend is about to get even bigger.
After seeing nearly 2,400 racers turn out last spring, Coastal Delaware Running Festival race director Rick Hundley and the team at Focus Multisports are expecting upwards of 4,000 participants to show up when the starting gun goes off in Dewey Beach for the run’s return this April.
Recently named “Delaware’s #1 Marathon” by TripAdvisor, the First State’s only Boston Marathon-qualifier event will also be adding a 5K to the lineup and will again feature a marathon, half-marathon and 9K, all showcased along its scenic flat courses spanning from Dewey Beach up to Lewes.
River Soccer sign ups still under way until March 15
There’s still a chance to sign up for the outdoor spring recreational season at the River Soccer Club, with registration remaining open through Wednesday, March 15.
Having been sent off with a pep rally in their honor as they headed into their first playoff appearance since 2014, the Indian River High School boys’ basketball team returned home on Thursday, March 2, after suffering a loss to No. 15 St. Marks.
Despite seeing their state tournament run cut short, the Indians still finished the regular season 12-8, after going just 5-15 last season and after a 16-year playoff drought spanning from 1997 to 2014.
With a predominantly young squad of primarily freshmen and sophomores, and set to graduate just three seniors — forward Isaiah “Izzy” Bratton, guard Colby Chandler and guard Thomas DiBuo — the boys’ basketball program at Indian River looks to be very much up and coming.
With the Indian River High School boys’ basketball team set to make their first state tournament appearance since 2014, winter sports certainly aren’t over yet.
Crandell named HAC Coach of the Year
The goal for head coach Colin Crandell and his Indian River High School swimming team is always the state finals.
The Indians actualized that goal last weekend, when they clocked some of their best times of the year at the DIAA state championships held at the University of Delaware, breaking IRHS school records in the process.
The only female swimmer for the Indians to make it to the Top 16 on Saturday, Feb. 25, was senior Lindsey Grow, who broke her own school records in the 200 IM with a time of 2:20.61 and 100 Breaststroke with a time of 1:12.50.
The 100- yard breaststroke time was good for an 11th-place finish as Grow returned to the finals for the fourth straight year.
When we drove up Saturday, the whole conversation was about mindset,” said Crandell of heading into the finals. “The goal is always states. It’s a progression. Our trajectory is always to get them to go faster and faster and faster, and they did that. If they improve, we’re happy.”
IR's Rayne takes second at states
After a strong showing at the Henlopen Conference championships last week, local wrestling squads, including Indian River and Sussex Central high schools, followed up by sending a collective six wrestlers to the DIAA state individual championship finals, held at Dover High School on Saturday, Feb. 25.
For the Indians, it was freshman Will Rayne making it all the way to the finals of the 106-pound bracket, eventually earning himself a second-place finish after being taken down by Salesianum’s Zach Spence in a 10-6 decision.
Spence entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, while Rayne earned the No. 2 seed when he clinched IRHS’s first Henlopen Conference individual title since 2010 at the HAC championships held at Sussex Central last weekend.
The Golden Knights saw two individual state championships on the night, when junior Rashad Stratton edged Charter’s Jesse Muaka for the state title in a 7-6 decision.
First there was a team at district high schools, then a winter clinic and a summer camp. But now, local lax-ers in fifth through eighth grades will have a chance to run with the “fastest game on two feet” in the spring, when the Indian River School District launches the Tribe Lacrosse recreation league later this month.
“There’s nothing like this around here. The kids are hungry for something like this,” said IR assistant boys’ lacrosse coach Dave Spencer of the rec league, which is set for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., starting March 21 and spanning through May 4. “I know personally I want help the sport grow, especially because my kids are playing now.”
Spencer will help run the show, along with IR head boys’ lacrosse coach Jim Dietsch, who has been coaching at the youth, high school and collegiate levels for the past 42 years — including at Belmont Abbey College and the University of Maryland. Spencer played collegiately at Towson University and professionally for the Baltimore Thunder.
Coastal Delaware Running Festival registration open
“Delaware’s Coolest Marathon” is set to make its return to Dewey Beach this April 21-23, with online registration already open for the Coastal Delaware Running Festival.
(If you like local sports, local kids being able to learn stuff/do things)
Calling all tennis players. Calling all golfers ready for shotgun starts. Calling all shuffle-board players, 5K runners, jazzercise jazzers, yoga’ed-out yogis, grayed-out barrel-riders, cast-out fish-finders, and even calling all 65-year-old hockey players still carving rink with the best of them (if any of them actually happen to exist, aside from Selbyville’s Lee Stanley). Most definitely calling Vaughn Baker, the First State Pickleball Club and pickleball players everywhere.