By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — No wrestling coach is ever fully free to relax after a tournament.
And it wasn’t five minutes after his post-match talk with his kids that Clay coach Hunter Hill was on the phone, talking business regarding the IOF tournament that Clay hosted on Sunday (Editor’s Note: Get the brackets posted, OK?).
But Hill could be content after the Blue Devils ran the table at Bishop Snyder’s North Florida Duals Saturday. Clay defeated Middleburg (60-7 in round 1), Rockledge (57-15 in round 2), Oakleaf (54-14 in round 3), Atlantic Coast (84-0 in round 4) and University Christian (74-3 in round 5), good for an average margin of victory of 58 points per dual.
That, in two words, was Clay-like.
“It was a great day,” Hill said. “After having seven or eight freshmen in the lineup all last year, so many kids quitting or transferring, our guys are starting to get that feeling back.
“They’ve been ready from the beginning this year. Re-establishing the culture. Last year, we maybe didn’t fully know what we were getting into. Now we’ve got the ball rolling.”
And their opponents saw it.
“I told our kids afterward that Clay was the measuring stick, and that we’re not there yet,” Oakleaf coach Marcus Miller said, noting his team’s solid 3-2 day in comparison to Clay’s.
Of the 13 weights that the Blue Devils covered Saturday, 12 of those weights saw Clay wrestlers go either 5-0 or 4-1 on the day.
Leading the charge was a former Oakleaf wrestler making his Clay debut, as Abdiert Escobar pinned his way through the tournament, going 5-0 on five falls. Dominic Martin (145, 4 pins) also max-pointed (scored 6 points in each dual that the team wrestled) through the tournament in going 5-0.
Four other Clay kids and a tandem posted 5-0 marks. Tazz Hampton (106, pin/tech/decision), Cale Hoskinson (152, 3 pins & decision), Isaiah Clifford (170/182, major & decision) and Jordan Bell (182/195, 3 pins/major/decision) all were 5-0 on their own, and the combo of Luca Fiannca and Tucker Reape combined for a 5-0 day at 160, with two pins, a tech, a major and decision (Fiannca was 3-0).
Five additional Blue Devils were 4-1 on the day, including: Maverick Rainwater (113, pin), Dalton Huckelberry (120, 2 pins), Luke Boree (138, pin/major/decision), Garrett Tyre (220, 2 pins & 2 decisions) and Derrek Mosley (285, pin & decision).
Below follows a summary of the other nine area teams in the tournament besides the Blue Devils:
Middleburg (4-1): After falling to Clay in round 1 of the tournament, the Broncos got their footing under them, taking dual wins over Keystone Heights (54-30, round 2), West Nassau (36-15, round 3), Rockledge (36-33, round 4) and Episcopal (39-36, round 5). Only one Middleburg wrestler was unbeaten, and he was not in an exclusive starting spot. Leading the charge through all of the duals were Caiden Berg (106, 3 pins) and Brayden Weaver (170, 2 pins), both of whom were 4-1. Jaden Lane (160, 3 pins) was 3-0 for the Broncos, while Dalton Falana (138/145, pin & major) and Michael Higginbotham (152, pin) both were 3-1.
Oakleaf (3-2): The Knights made their debut under Miller, starting 21 kids during the course of the day, and took wins over Keystone Heights (66-18 in round 1), Bishop Snyder (66-12 in round 2) and First Coast (49-23 in round 4). Isaiah Schevchook (195, 2 pins) max-pointed through a 5-0 day, and was joined by fellow unbeatens Marcus McGee (5-0 at 120, 4 pins & decision) and Jason Mitchell (4-0 at 220/285, 3 pins). With the mix-and-match approach the Clay County Knights employed, not many other kids got a chance to amass three starts, let alone three wins, but Andrew Brandt (3-2 at 113, 2 pins), Jason Stewart (3-2 at 126, 3 pins) and Roman Polinsky (3-1 at 145, pin) did that for Oakleaf.
West Nassau (3-2): With just nine regular starters in the debut of Warriors coach Adam Bolger, West Nassau still took three wins, defeating First Coast (39-30 in round 2), Keystone Heights (37-36, criteria, in round 4) and Oakleaf (36-30 in round 5), with a 46-24 loss to Rockledge in round 1. Bradley Hulett (138) pinned his way through the tournament, with five falls in all. Brendan Ferenchik (126/132, 4 pins & decision) also was 5-0 for the Warriors, while Jackson Rowell (220/285, 4 pins) was 4-1. Blayden Thorpe (106, 2 pins & decision) contributed a 3-2 day for West Nassau.
First Coast (3-2): William McCullom has been around many a year as the Buccaneer assistant, but had his debut as head coach Saturday, with First Coast taking wins over Episcopal (48-28 in round 1), University Christian (48-21 in round 3) and Atlantic Coast (48-27 in round 5). Josiah Mossor (145/152, 3 pins & tech) had a 5-0 day for the Buccaneers, while Jace Austin (132, pin) was 4-1 and both Ian Leschinskey (106/113, 2 pins) and Timothy King (195, pin) chipped in 3-2 days.
Episcopal (2-3 tournament, 2-4 overall): The Eagles were the only team in the tournament to wrestle prior to Saturday, taking wins over University Christian (36-27 in round 2) and Bishop Snyder (60-24 in round 4), with a 35-30 loss to Rockledge in round 3. Joe Jackson (126) was the third wrestler on the day to pin his way through the tournament, with five falls in all. Cohen Chesser (106/113, pin) also was unbeaten at 4-0 for Episcopal, while Ben Helton (132, pin & major) and Aidan Chupp (138/145, 2 pins) were both 4-1. Baylor Maurer (120), John Fernandez (170/182, 2 pins) and Kent Robinson (195) all were 3-2 for the Eagles.
Keystone Heights (2-3): After losses in the first three rounds, the Indians righted the ship in round 5, with a 48-30 victory over the hosts, then nearly duplicated that score in a 42-30 win over Atlantic Coast in round 6. Eliyah Cole (182/195, 4 pins) max-pointed through the tournament in going 5-0, while Canyon Hayes (132) was 3-0 in a regular but not exclusive starting role. Jason Bowden (113) was 4-1 for Keystone Heights, while Steven Raab (182/195, 2 pins) and Dalin Files (285) were both 3-2 on the day.
Atlantic Coast (2-3): As coach Hector Zayas made his debut with the Stingrays, they were able to take wins over University Christian (36-30 in round 1) and Bishop Snyder (48-24 in round 2). Joel Dudley (138) and Parsa Mohklesbadi (152, pin) were both 4-1 for Atlantic Coast, while Eric Harper (120, 3 pins), John Friedel (145) and Bayyah Mega (220, pin) all were 3-2 each for the Stingrays.
Bishop Snyder (0-4): The Cardinals could only fill seven weights, making winning duals difficult, but did have a couple of bright lights on the day, as the heavyweight combination of Angel Lecointe and Matthew Hildreth went unbeaten, with two pins. Clayton Beasley (160, 2 pins) was 3-1 on the day as a regular starter.
University Christian (0-5): While the Christians also were at a short-handed disadvantage, making the reboot of the program under coach Wes Champ a tough team day in winning duals (in addition to those noted above, UCS also fell to Rockledge, 44-18, in round 3), they had four kids win at least three matches. Egan Gustilo (113/120, 3 pins & decision) was 5-0 for the Christians, while Jayce Paridon (106, 3 pins) and Matthew Flores (160, 2 pins & decision) were both 4-1. Jackie Dinh (182/195, 2 pins & decision), in his UC debut, was 3-2 for the Christians.
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