On The Ball -- Looking back at IR's year in sports
The 2011-2012 school year was one to remember for the Indian River athletic department. From a state championship won by an established football program to the introduction of a completely new sport altogether, in lacrosse, the “Green and Gold” has had quite a year.
This past fall, Indian River’s cross-country team collected their best record yet, at 7-5, and for the first time, will be sending a student athlete to compete at the collegiate level, as Kesley Minyon signed her letter of intent this week to McDaniel College in Westminster, Md.
The boys’ varsity soccer team picked up yet another winning season and earned another spot seeded in the state tournament, while senior Josh Mercer — who has had the opportunity to play on the pitch locally, nationwide and even internationally — agreed to play the game this fall at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Though a varsity volleyball team attempted to rebuild this year, Indian River saw senior Laura Seitz, a member of the team, sign a letter of intent earlier this year with the University of Delaware, where she will compete and perform with the school’s dance team.
But the fall season was truly highlighted by the team on the gridiron. The Indian River varsity football team captured an undefeated season — the first time the Indians had done so since the Indian River School District was established in 1969 — and pushed on through the state tournament.
With a first-round bye, the Indians awaited their rivals, as Howard got past Archmere in the quarterfinals. IR maintained their perfect streak, defeating Howard, 49-14, and advancing to the state championship for the first time since 1991, when the team had lost to Laurel. But a driven first-year head coach Ray Steele — who had called plays alongside former coach Jim Bunting for three decades — wasn’t about to let his team fall short again.
Behind four-year starting quarterback Jamie Jarmon, the Indians powered past Caravel at the Delaware State campus, 35-13, on a chilly night in early December, before capturing the Division II State Championship trophy.
This marked only the second state football championship in the school’s history — the other having come in 1988 — and the first time that the team went perfect, all year long, through a state title.
Senior P.J. Kraushaar announced his intent to carry on the Indian River pride and plans to play football at McDaniel in the upcoming fall season.
Through the winter, the Lady Indians’ varsity basketball team sealed their fourth consecutive winning record, each of which has been during head coach John Frye’s tenure at Indian River.
Lady Indians senior Destiny Blake etched her name in IR basketball history, becoming only the fourth female player to score at least 1,000 points during her high-school career. She signed her letter of intent earlier this year, to DelTech.
This past winter season, senior Chanel Handy was also recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Sportsmanship Award handed out by DelawareGirlsBasketball.com.
The varsity wrestling team followed up early this year, under seasoned head coach Jeff Windish. The Indians advanced to the semifinals of the Division II Team Duals and put five athletes into the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) Individual Wrestling Championship, with three advancing past the opening day of competition.
At the end, it was 152-pound wrestler Max Wilkinson who stole the limelight for the Indians, earning a second-place finish in his weight class in the state tournament.
The season in the pool saw improved records for both the boys’ and girls’ varsity swimming teams at Indian River, as most athletes on the team locked up personal bests throughout the schedule, and numerous swimmers qualified for states.
Logan Linden became the first member of the swim team to sign with a college for that sport and will head to McDaniel this fall.
This spring, Indian River’s varsity baseball team entered a new echelon of recognition, as Jarmon — who stood out on the football field, where he earned the Delaware Gatorade Athlete of the Year — drew curious eyes and assessments from MLB scouts along the fence. Earlier, he announced his intent to play baseball at the University of South Carolina, two-time defending NCAA champions.
A young Lady Indians’ softball team struggled to find their footing this season, but three-time All-State and All-Henlopen Conference selection Brook Ash signed her letter of intent with Wilmington University in Dover.
The Indian River track-and-field team sent nearly a dozen athletes to the state tournament this year, during which they also hosted a track meet for the first time in the program’s three-year history, earlier this month.
Although the girls’ varsity soccer program struggled with youth and injuries this year, falling just short of the state tournament, they continued their tradition of sending athletes on to college teams, as Ashley Conroe announced her plans to play at Virginia Wesleyan later this year.
Indian River’s varsity golf team finished up with a third-place showing at the Henlopen Conference Championship earlier this week and picked up a 15th seeding in the upcoming DIAA state tournament.
Golfing phenom Taylor Lewis signed a letter of intent earlier this year to Towson University and became the most successful golfer to come out of Indian River after earning medalist or co-medalist in eight of this season’s 13 matches.
Indian River’s tennis teams cleaned house in the Henlopen South this spring season, as both teams took home the division championship. The boys followed up with a second-place lock as a team at conferences, and strong showings from all five starting positions in the state tournament.
The Indian River boys’ first-doubles team advanced to the state quarterfinals, while the second-doubles team made it to the semis. Boys’ head coach Paris Mitchell earned Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year, as well, while first-year head coach Conor McMullen narrowly missed the honor for the girls’ team.
And, as if three new athletic programs in the last three years at Indian River — cross-country, swimming and track-and-field — weren’t enough, the school welcomed a junior varsity lacrosse team this spring, under decorated collegiate head coach and former athlete Jim Dietsch. Not only did the team finish 8-2, record two shutouts and outscore opponents 88-37, but the success would seem to bode well for the school’s plans to introduce a varsity lacrosse program by next spring.
These great teams and individuals are continuing time-honored traditions at Indian River, making friends and family proud, each and every day. A supportive community has backed these student athletes, cheering them on through division clinches, conference combats and state titles.
Those of you visiting the beaches this summer season aren’t expected to know these individuals, the teams or the coaches. But you can appreciate that you are in the company of more than great beaches, esteemed restaurants and enjoyable summer entertainment. You are in the company of community leaders, hard-working students and successful athletic programs, as well.
Congratulations to all of Indian River’s 2011-2012 student athletes, and best of luck to the graduating class of 2012.