Should have Lincoln, Flagler and George Jenkins brackets on the site tonight. Recaps tomorrow/tomorrow night from everything I have. After being at wrestling on Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night and most of Saturday, I focused on being a dad today.
The plan was not to move to Florida. Or live in Jacksonville. Or cover high school wrestling. Was NOT so many things, that the plan I had for my life bears (almost) no resemblance to the life I live.
Point is, things change. And as the well-known wrestling philosopher Spock might have said, “The needs of the many outweigh…the needs of the few…or the well-staffed tournament.”
I didn’t plan on announcing at 5 Star tonight, or staying after to help the Raines coaching staff compile the day’s records. Or announcing tomorrow. But that’s where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. I’m needed. I’m called to serve, and so I shall. If you want to lead, you must be willing to serve.
I had planned to visit Palm Coast and the Rotary Saturday — but not to stay. I won’t be staying at Raines either. Will still be leaving mid-afternoon as planned. Some plans (made by the boss) can’t change.
I have very long writeups still planned. There won’t be writing on the site, at least not very early anyway. I might knock something out Saturday night, depending on what I have. Not making any set plans, which are probably subject to change.
So, my trip to Palm Coast will have to wait until the Clay dual. But a massive writeup of the Rotary is still planned.
By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
GREEN COVE SPRINGS — The pencils were out, the numbers were crunched, the data was put on paper, and the collective fingernails — on both sides of the stands — were worn to nubs.
It took a little-known and even littler-used criterion — most first points scored — to separate #1 Fleming Island from #3 Clay Thursday night in The Uncivil War, 2016 edition.
The evidence was incontrovertible, and it pointed in the direction of the Golden Eagles, giving Fleming a 25-24 victory.
“Everything,” Fleming senior John Martorano answered, asked what the victory meant to the Golden Eagles, particularly a senior group that had sustained three years of heartbrook in Uncivil Wars past.
“It’s incredible. We worked our (butts) off for it. Worked all four years for it.”
And, despite that, there were many anxious moments where that work almost appeared to go for naught, at least for this goal.
That’s because it was Clay (20-8) that fired the first major blast of scoring, after the teams traded decisions in the first four weights.
Not that those four matches didn’t have weight. At 106, Clay’s Louis Gagliardo turned back Albie Snedaker, 9-4, in a battle of Matmen 1 vs. 2. Fleming answered at 113, as #2 Deandre Demus scored once, enough for a 3-1 win over #3 Chris Merring. The Blue Devils got a lift at 120, as Peyton Hughes — the best unranked wrestler in the coverage area — bumped up from his usual 113 and turned back #3 Jacob Sandoval, 6-3. Finally, at 126, #4 Tracy Davis used a turn in the second period to overcome #2 Dale Browning, 2-1.
That’s when things really got interesting from Clay’s side of things and the Blue Devils were almost poised to pull off another Uncivil victory.
In another 1 vs. 2 battle, this time it was 2 that got the better of it, as Clay’s Derek Miller outlasted Xaiver Sampsel, 2-0, at 132. Then, at 138, #3 Julian Summa knocked off another #1, Fleming’s Paul Detwiler, by a 2-1 score to give the Blue Devils a momentum bounce and a little lead, 12-6.
At 145, Clay part-time starter Justin Merring then gave his team a momentum shockwave and a big lead, picking up a second-period fall to push the Blue Devil lead to 12, 18-6. That 12-point gap became 15 at 152, when Keath Sawdo (#2 at 145) found his way to a takedown in sudden victory over David Detwiler — making his first appearance of the 2015-16 season — by a 3-1 score.
“They ground it out,” Blue Devils coach Jim Reape said of the wins from his middles. “They just scratched and clawed and found a way. I feel great about the way the guys were competing.”
The War always seems to shine a spotlight on an unlikely source. This year was no different. With Fleming tottering on the edge of a knockout, the Golden Eagles needed a momentum shift — fast.
And they got it from a source that found himself on the losing end of a quick pin in the 2015 War, as sophomore Gabe Lear (HM at 160) came up with a 24-second fall over Connor Green (#7 at 152) to get Fleming some much-needed life.
“It was there, so I hit it. They said he could defend it, but I hit it anyway,” Lear said of the quick move that led to the quick pin. “I did think about it (last year’s fall, at the hands of now-graduated two-time Clay state champ Adam Breindel). I was thinking that I have to get better, and I have.”
Fleming Island (23-0) had the upper hand on paper going into the heart of the uppers, and it showed, as the Golden Eagles won five in a row, starting with Lear’s fall.
None of the rest of them would come easy. It was all #1 Martorano, who was gimping around on one leg for half the match, could do to defeat #3 Caleb Steinmetz, 3-1. At 182, #1 Ryan Smenda seemed to have his way early with Clay honorable-mention freshman Abbott Taylor — until Taylor nearly had Smenda stuck late in the second. It took everything Smenda could do to wrest a 10-9 decision away at the last minute.
At 195, Fleming’s top-ranked Jason Davis had a rematch with #2 Kaleb Collins, and this one didn’t disappoint, as Davis needed everything to put together a 6-4 decision, and the Eagles’ second-ranked Jose Concepcion got a tough challenge from Ryan Rivers before giving Fleming its first lead of the night, 24-21, with a 5-0 decision.
“Usually, when we’re winning, it’s on our feet, but Clay did a great job of tying us up on our feet, thwarting our leg attacks, so we had to go to the mat and we did some good things there,” Eagles coach Jeff Jordan said. “We had a lot of one-point first points, and you don’t see that a lot in tiebreakers.”
At 285, #5 Roland Samec of Clay did enough to make sure that his team had a chance via criteria, decisioning #6 Brandyne Mackey, 5-2, and Mackey did enough to make sure that his team would prevail, by not giving up back points.
That led to a confab around the head table, where a wrestling dual could easily have given way to a Brain Brawl competition between the two schools, as the painstaking process of walking through the criteria began. Each criterion was a tie until the most first points — Fleming had first points in a good majority of the matches, getting the extra point for the dual win.
“In terms of quality of win, it has to be up there. Clay hadn’t lost in-county to an in-county team since January 27, 2007, and then before that it was the mid-90s when Reape got the ball rolling at Clay,” Jordan said of the significance of the victory.
“It’ll be nice to enjoy tonight. Maybe an hour, than we’ll go check weight. That will be the first priority. I don’t want to sound like a micro-manager, but at this point you have to (with the Flagler County Rotary looming on Friday). It’s like the old three-day state tournament.”
For his part — and his team’s — Reape was quite upbeat. Perhaps it was the birthday cake (Thursday was his birthday, as it was Smenda’s as well). More likely, it was the performance of his group, which showed an unwillingness to give an inch to the unbeaten Eagles.
“I have all of this odd emotion about this, because honestly, in a lot of ways, I don’t feel like we lost. I think Fleming’s the second-best team we saw in 3A. They’ve beaten Flagler, South Dade’s #1 and they’re second. We’ve seen Lake Highland Prep. We’ve definitely been in the mix.”
Northeast Florida Matmen staff report
ST. AUGUSTINE — Never mind the war.
Westside had enough of a battle on its collective hands with the team in front of it Thursday night, as the Wolverines had to turn back a determined St. Augustine challenge.
As it turned out, Westside’s strongest wrestler — Delmontae Davis — needed to secure bonus points for the Wolverines. He got a fall, giving Westside a 30-27 road victory.
The Wolverines (13-5) got falls from, in order: Caleb Gibbs (160), John Jones (170), Tariq Hookfin (285) and Davis. Christian Wilkerson (182) and Keyvonta Broadwater (132) both added decisions for Westside.
St. Augustine (11-24) gave great account of itself, but came up short against Westside’s strength in the middle of its lineup. Robert Zuzu (220), Kristopher Smith (113) and Ralph Hicks (126) had falls for the Yellow Jackets, with Tracey Beshara (152) opening the dual with a victory.
Westside is off until Wednesday, when it joins Baker County at Orange Park, while St. Augustine has little time to rest, taking the short trip south to Palm Coast for FPC’s Flagler County Rotary tournament Friday and Saturday.
Rankings are up. Thought I should get this done while I am thinking of how to write up the War. And it was.
And oh yeah, new feature! There’s at least 3 kids in each weight class (and possibly more) that are deserving enough of recognition. So we’ve done that. It’s good to be the Matman sometimes. We only had one at 106 because we had a 3-way tie for 10th, and, no, that wasn’t a copout — each of those 3 is 1-1 against the other in recent matches.
Just remember. The rankings are through January 16. The next set will at least be through last Saturday or possibly this one. Lot of change will be coming, and there’ll be at least two more rankings sets done before District Week.
While most wrestlers don’t begin final preparations for the Florida state tournament until February, three area wrestlers are starting as soon as this weekend.
Oakleaf senior Geneva Winston, Buchholz junior Christine Goff and Keystone Heights junior Summer Hyatt will be traveling as part of Beat The Streets-Northeast Florida’s women’s club, competing this weekend at the Ferrum College Girls’ Invitational.
In the first two weekends of February, the trio will also be competing in the Alabama Girls’ Championship and Florida’s girls’ state tournament in successive weekends.
Winston is a four-year varsity wrestler with the Knights, while Goff is in her third year with the Bobcats. Hyatt’s competition thus far has been strictly club activities, as Keystone Heights has yet to field a high school team (Editor’s Note: It should).
Later in the spring, the trio will be traveling to New York City to compete in what will be, for each of them, their first international tournament. While in Alabama, the BTS-NEFL will get to work with 2015 Worlds bronze medalist Leigh Jaynes-Provisor, along with Life University women’s wrestling head coach David Mathews.
Scout updated. So I have.
Still have one dual to put on the roundup and in the duals, and waiting for one more.
Rankings late tonight of my own. Where I disagree with Scout.
A post coming sometime today on the girls’ state run.
And there’s something else tonight…can’t remember…so much stuff on the itinerary…
WHAT IS IT, GUYS??
Oh. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrright. The UNCIVIL WAR. It’s on. Tonight. You should go. I will.
By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
ORANGE PARK — Just before Christmas, Oakleaf went through the low point of its season thus far, finishing seventh out of 10 teams at the Tiger Invitational in Lake City.
That was just two weeks after several observers were touting the Knights as the strongest team at the North Florida Duals to start the season.
So, first-year head coach Chris Newton and his team did what many teams should consider doing when things stop working well.
The Knights started working harder.
“We just went back to basics,” Newton said. “We had our guys doing 3, maybe 400 stadiums a day.”
“More!” an unidentified Knight said out of eyesight.
“If our guys did something wrong, practice would stop and we’d go back into the technique until we got it right. Just drill, drill, drill until you can’t do it wrong. Non-stop effort,” Newton said.
The results are starting to come back the way the Clay County Knights would have liked them to look from the start. After a third-place finish at the Bear Duals on Saturday — on a day in which Oakleaf looked like the second-strongest team in the 10-team event, but were in the same pool as eventual champion Buchholz — Oakleaf rallied from a 15-point deficit to turn back county rival Ridgeview, at home on Wednesday night.
“As a team, we’re still middle of the road. We’re still a very young program,” Newton said. “But our kids believe in ourselves.”
That came in handy for Oakleaf (13-7) Wednesday night, because early on it was Ridgeview (6-5) that pushed the pace, with wins in four of the first five matches and — on occasion — holding the upper hand in the fifth.
“We’re close, man,” Ridgeview coach Bryson Barker said. “We’ve got guys that will shake some things up come district-time. Most of our freshmen and sophomores are buying into our seniors and into us as a coaching staff. The biggest thing has been getting guys to understand that we’re here and we’re going to put in the time.”
Some of the matches held according to expectations, but the two teams traded pins at 160 & 170 in outcomes that didn’t go as expected. At 160, Ridgeview’s John Tiedeman overcame a 12-1 deficit with a headlock and eventual throw for a fall in 2:45, and at 170 Oakleaf’s Austin Gibson (last ranked #8 in the Matmen local poll) stuck #3 Daryn Tucker Brown in 2:28.
It was two swing matches, though, that ultimately made the difference, and Oakleaf won both of those, with Ethan Gustilo ending a back-and-forth battle with a late fall in 5:53 at 126, and Anthony Quinones adding a fall in 3:54 at 182.
The pin for Quinones — a senior out for the first time this year — didn’t give the Knights the lead, but it did pave the way, as Oakleaf was heavily favored in two of the remaining four weights and had a forfeit in hand at 113, securing the dual.
“He’s never wrestled before, but if I could put his heart in every one of our kids, we’d be state champs,” Newton said. “Just a great kid.”
Both Oakleaf and Ridgeview are off until the weekend, when the Knights go to the Flagler County Rotary tournament and Ridgeview travels to Tallahassee for the Trojan Invitational, hosted by Lincoln.
Northeast Florida Matmen staff report
JACKSONVILLE — It’s been a busy run of events for Bishop Kenny, with weekend events on back-to-back-to-back weekends. So, for the Crusaders, Wednesday night’s home dual victory over Ponte Vedra, 57-15, kicked off a 10-day break.
The Crusaders (15-5) got three pins and four decisions in the victory, with Garrett Tirado (113), Kyle Black (138) and Sid Madison (145) collecting pins.
Additionally, Jack Delaney bumped up from his recently-dropped-to weight, 106, to win by decision at 120, as did Andrew Slade (132), Joey Cusick (152) and Josiah McCallum (285).
Ponte Vedra (3-6) got falls from Preston Turner (106) and Zach Gregory (170), plus a win by decision from Jack Fox (126).
Kenny is off now until February 5, the first day of competition at Clay’s Green Cove Springs Rotary event. Ponte Vedra is off until February 3, when the Sharks will host Fletcher in a battle of coastal clubs.
Matanzas 72, Deltona 6: At Palm Coast, the fourth-ranked Pirates (24-6) won every contested match in the home dual, running up bonus points in every victory but one.
Carter Goodman (120), Ian Eckert (145), Eddy Leon de la Cruz (152), Christopher Mixan (160) and Daniel Leonard (285) all won by fall for Matanzas, with Tristan Kraus adding a technical fall at 138, Rocky Samples by major decision at 113 and Stone White by decision at 120.
The Pirates (24-6) are off until Friday, when they stay in-county but travel to FPC for the Flagler County Rotary IBT.
Bolles 78, Bishop Snyder 6: At Snyder, the visiting Bulldogs (6-7) won every contested match en route to the dual victory.
Dalton Posick (113), Gray Creed (138), Conner Cronk (145) and Justin Mitchell (220) each won by fall in matches against Snyder opponents, with the lone six for the Cardinals (2-20) coming via forfeit.
Bolles is off until Friday and the Flagler County Rotary at Flagler Palm Coast, while Bishop Snyder will be at the Raines 5 Star, also on Friday and Saturday.
Northeast Florida Matmen staff report
STARKE — Experience and numbers made all the difference for Bradford on Tuesday night.
The host Tornadoes used a decided experience advantage to turn back Florida School for the Deaf & Blind, 63-12, and numbers to defeat Interlachen, 42-24, in a triangular meet that saw the Rams win the middle dual over the Dragons, 30-24.
Numbers mattered for Bradford in the first dual, too, but the Tornadoes were able to win every contested match — five in all, with Antonio Urolia (120), Andrew Hetler (145), Chris Hart (170) and Eddie McCormick (220) all win by fall and Adam Wilson (132) by decision. All of FSDB’s points came via forfeit.
That was the case against Interlachen as well, as the Rams had pins in each of the three contested matches over FSDB, with Cade Mason (132), Julian Rivera (170) and Logan Hastings (195) all winning with falls.
FSDB had two double winners in Christian Miranda-Reyes (106) and Ty Snow (113), whose unbeaten nights were secured when they made weight, as both were 2-0 via two forfeits.
While winning the contested matches was Bradford’s friend against FSDB, it wasn’t the case with Interlachen, as the Tornadoes won only one contested match out of five. Grayson Montgomery (182) picked up that victory, by fall.
This time, it would be numbers, as Bradofrd used six forfeits along with the Montgomery pin to take the victory.
Interlachen had the points in the contested matches, for the most part, with Cade Mason (132), Julian Rivera (170), Logan Hastings (195) and Lance Hastings (220) all winning twice via fall.
All three teams are back in action on Friday, in three different locations. FSDB will be at Raines’ 5 Star Invitational on that day and Saturday, while Interlachen will be at the two-day Diamondback Duals, hosted by Belleview. Bradford is wrestling on just the Friday, with a road dual at Gainesville.