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#WeWentThere: Yulee Wins 1st Friday Night Lights Title

Yulee1st
Yulee wrestlers, coaches and managers ran the table Friday night at Oakleaf’s Friday Knight Lights, going 5-0 to win the first-place team trophy (Photo by Shannon Heaton).

By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen

ORANGE PARK — The nor’easter that struck northeast Florida also did a Friday-the-13th number on the plans the Oakleaf coaches had to hold the inaugural Friday Knight Lights dual tournament on the Knights’ football field.

And, once moved to the cafeteria, Yulee did the rest to the seven other teams’ plans, with five double-digit wins in a Friday Knight Lights field that looked really balanced — was so balanced, in fact, that three teams tied for first place in one of the two pools.

But only Yulee survived the day unscathed. Every other team had two losses or more.

“There’s some guys that really stepped up. (Take) Dietrich Woods (at 138). I know his shoulder was hurting, but he wanted to finish and win. And there’s 20 more kids like that on this team,” Hornets coach Brandon Crowder said. “There’s still a ton of work to do, we’re still making a lot of mistakes, but I’m proud of where we’re at right now.”

Yulee (8-0 for the season) hosted a quad on Wednesday, then took down Orange Park (60-18) in round 1, Westside (66-18) in round 2 and Nease (59-21) in round 3 to take first in Pool A. The Hornets then defeated Oakleaf, 51-27, in the semis, and held off Bartram Trail, 46-36, for the title.

“We’re just young and we made young mistakes,” Bears coach Chad Parker said of the final. “Giving up pins when we should have finished. Those points here and there cost us. Missing a couple of guys, but that’s no excuse. They (Yulee) are pretty good. They’re a fundamentally-solid team.”

And they get on the mat again at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning to compete in Fernandina Beach’s Dual in the Dunes, which, as any coach would tell you, means at least a 6 a.m. wakeup.

“Biggest thing will be getting them to bed early. Kids stay up all night. We have to take care of our bodies, eat proper food and rest. If we can get them in early, we’ll have them ready to go (Saturday).”

Two Yulee wrestlers pinned their way through the tournament with 5-0 records and five pins; those two were Bryce Bees (132) and Bradley Durrance (220). A third Hornet wrestler max-pointed (scored 6 team dual points in each dual the team wrestled), as Jesse Johnson (160, 4 pins) also was 5-0.

Trevor Gladson (126, 3 pins), Woods (138, 3 pins & major), Aston Ricks (152, 3 pins) and Isaiah Shook (170, 3 pins) were each 4-1 for the Hornets, while Tristan Martinez (120, 3 pins), Dylan Johns (145, pin/tech/decision) and Darquill Brown (285, 3 pins) all were 3-2 for Yulee.

Below follows a summary of the other seven teams in the tournament:

Bartram Trail (2-1 in Pool B, 3-2): The Bears won the tiebreaker to advance into the championship round, with wins over Englewood (60-21) and West Nassau (66-18). The Bears then hammered Orange Park, 59-21, in the semifinal round. During the course of the day, Parker won his 300th dual as a head coach. “It’s a humbling experience, and I’d like to thank every wrestler and assistant coach who contributed to this milestone,” Parker said.

Four Bears max-pointed, with Ethan Vugman (106, 4 pins), Michael Moore (113/120, 4 pins), Trevor Tagarelli (126, 4 pins) and Stephen Farris (145/152, 4 pins) all going 5-0. Ryan Piersza (285, 3 pins) was 4-1 and Ralph Hamilton (170, 3 pins) 3-1 for Bartram, with Preston Pena (132, 2 pins & major), John McNames (160, pin & major) and Clarke Hamilton (220, 2 pins and decision) all finishing the day with 3-2 records.

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Bartram Trail wrestlers and coaches take a moment with the runnerup trophy won Friday night at Oakleaf’s Friday Knight Lights (Photo by Alex Vugman).

Oakleaf (2-1 in Pool B, 3-2): The host Knights defeated Bartram Trail (42-32) and West Nassau (48-36); after the two losses, Oakleaf finished off the night with a 48-30 victory over Orange Park two days after the Raiders defeated the Knights in a dual. Josh Murrell (285, 4 pins) max-pointed through the five rounds, while Marcus McGee (120, 3 pins, tech & decision) also was undefeated. David Parkes (152/160, 4 pins), Isiah Schevchook (195, 2 pins & decision) and Jason Mitchell (220, 3 pins & decision) each were 4-1 for the Clay County Knights, while Jayden Longoria (182, 3 pins) was 3-2 for Oakleaf.

Orange Park (2-1 in Pool A, 2-3): The Raiders defeated Nease (52-28) in round 2 and Westside (66-18) in round 3, but a short-handed crew in some spots couldn’t help Orange Park find a win in the championship pool. Jacob Moore (182/195, 4 pins) max-pointed through the night, while Cameron Broughton (145, four pins and one tech) also was 5-0 in the tournament. Davon Bailey (120/126, pin & major) was 4-1, while Wesley Carlisle (113, 2 pins), Durrionte Myrick (120/126, 3 pins), Vincent Walker (138, pin & 2 decisions) and Trevion Sermons (152/160, pin & decision) were all 3-2 for Orange Park.

Englewood (2-1 in Pool B, 4-1): Having to be the one team in the 3-way Pool B tiebreaker didn’t seem to faze the Rams much, as they just kept winning. Englewood defeated West Nassau (45-36) in round 1 and Oakleaf (39-38) in round 3, with crossover wins over Westside (66-18) and Nease (42-41). Lynden North (132) pinned his way through the night, with five pins, while Sam Howard (160, 3 pins) max-pointed through the night. Adrian Vasquez (120, 2 pins), Hunter Padgett (126, pin) and Neil Gutierrez (285, 2 pins) all were 3-2 for Englewood.

West Nassau (0-3 in Pool B, 2-3): The Warriors couldn’t find a victory in pool competition, but crossover rounds were West Nassau’s friend, as the Warriors defeated Nease (34-30) and Westside (42-23). Bradley Hulett (138) pinned his way through the tournament, with five falls in all. Blayden Tharpe (106, 3 pins & major), Brendan Ferenchik (126/132, 4 pins) and Conner Nobles (182/195, 4 pins) all were 4-1 for West Nassau, while Deonte Robinson (170, 3 pins) and Jackson Rowell (220, 3 pins) were both 3-2.

Nease (1-2 in Pool A, 1-4): The St Johns Panthers scored their only dual victory in round 1 of pool play, defeating Westside, 45-35, but that would be the lone team victory. Still, though, there was plenty of individual success, led by Kobe Ross (195), who pinned his way through the tournament, with five falls in all. Trevion Demus (113, 3 pins) max-pointed through the night, while Jalon Lumar (138, 2 pins, major/decision) was 4-0 for Nease. Brielle Bibla (106, 3 pins) was 4-1, with Gabriel Thompson (152, 2 pins) chipping in a 3-2 tournament for the Panthers.

Westside (0-3 in Pool A, 0-5): The Wolverines hung around against Nease in round 1 of pool play and in crossover competition with West Nassau, but could not find a dual victory. Angelo Philpot (170, 4 pins & tech) was the only Westside wrestler to win more than two matches on the day, going 5-0.

Full results from all 20 duals contested Friday night can be found HERE.

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