By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
LAKE CITY — Kevin Warner grew up a Suwannee Bulldog, wrestled for Suwannee, and currently has Suwannee kids working with his Columbia wrestlers.
So it was perhaps fitting that Warner’s Tigers had to overcome Suwannee to wrestle for third place in the Tiger Duals at Columbia on Saturday, and overcome them Columbia did, winning 44-24 in the 10-team, one-day dual tournament.
Florida High, which handed the Tigers (5-1) their one loss of the day in pool competition, went on to take the title (see related story on their day on the Northwest Florida Matmen site), defeating West Port of Ocala, 45-36.
Bradford continued to make significant progress, taking fifth with a 39-25 decision over St. Augustine, while Oakleaf outpaced Nease, 48-27, for seventh. Ocala Forest decisioned Lake Weir, 46-18, for ninth.
There isn’t much distance between Lake City and Live Oak, Suwannee’s home base, but the Tigers tried to separate themselves early in the third-place match, jumping out to a 26-6 lead.
Suwannee (3-2) tried to come back, cutting the Columbia lead to 26-18, but pins at 120 from Chace Curtis and at 132 from Matt Ross sealed the deal in the Tigers’ favor.
Curtis — who was named as lower-weight Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament — had a three-pin, two-tech day at 120, while Ross had three pins and a decision while seeing time at both 126 and 132. Marcus Zeighler (285) also went 5-0, with three pins and a decisio nthere.
The Bulldogs had two unbeatens during the course of the day. At 106, Brandon Trask had a pin, a tech, a major and a decision in going 5-0, while Tanner Clark had three falls on a 5-0 day at 138.
Columbia had pool wins over Lake Weir (53-0), St. Augustine (53-24) and Oakleaf (45-24), while falling to Florida High, 55-18. Suwannee took care of Nease (58-12), Ocala Forest (49-15) and Bradford (63-18), falling 46-27 to West Port.
For the Tornadoes (5-6) in the fifth-place match, it was never quite put away until late, and it was clinched with a loss at 132. Falls by Eddie McCormick at 220 and Jordan Luke at 285 gave Bradford enough separation that the Yellow Jackets (5-10) never could close.
Bradford had two undefeated Wrestlers on the day, as Jason Griffis had three pins on a 5-0 day at 126, while McCormick also had three falls at 220. The Tornadoes defeated Forest (42-40) and Nease (51-24) in pool play, falling to Suwannee and to West Port (47-36).
St. Augustine saw Kristopher Smith take wins at three separate weights, recording three pins and two decisions along the way, with Malik Hicks at 132 going 5-0 with two falls and a major. The Yellow Jackets downed Oakleaf, 45-31, to start the day, and also defeated Lake Weir (45-24), with pool losses to Columbia and Florida High (56-24).
In the seventh-place match, Oakleaf (7-6) finally found some footing after only managing to take down Lake Weir (42-16) in pool play, getting out to a 24-6 lead over Nease, more or less trading punches the rest of the way. Isaiah Graham (160), Elias Magloire-Martinez (170) and David Thompson (220) had pins to start the Knights’ early surge.
Oakleaf had three unbeatens on the day. At 113, Ryan Rosano went 5-0 with one pin, one major and one decision, while Luke Karl (152) had four pins in a 5-0 day and Thompson, who also saw time at 285, had three pins and won all five of his matches.
Nease, which was short-handed two starters from Thursday night, did not have an unbeaten wrestler.
For the Northeast Matmen-area teams, only St. Augustine still has an event on their schedule in 2015, as the Yellow Jackets travel to Palm Coast for the FPC Christmas duals. Bradford and Columbia start things up on January 7, with Nease and Suwannee restarting on the 8th and Oakleaf on the 11th.