North Florida Matmen staff report
PALM COAST — There’s only one local appearance for Fleming Island on the December calendar — and it’s a pretty substantial trek from the FIHS area all the way over to Palm Coast.
So fans not wanting to drive more than two hours to see the northern giants had just Wednesday night to go get a look at the Golden Eagles prior to January 3, and they didn’t disappoint, defending their St Johns River Conference title at Matanzas in dominant fashion.
The tournament — dual roundrobin in format — saw the Golden Eagles (14-1 overall in duals) compile an average margin of victory of 52.8 points per dual, with wins over Pedro Menendez (62-9) in round 1, Orange Park (66-12) in round 2, Middleburg (69-6) in round 3 and Palatka (67-12) in round 4 before rolling past the host Pirates, 54-15, in the final round.
Fleming Island bagged 10 all-conference awards. Leading the charge on that front were seniors Gannon Janssen (145) and Luke Chop, who not only won two of those 10, not only were 5-0 in the tournament, but also pinned their way through the tournament — the only two wrestlers in the gym that did so.
Three more Golden Eagles were 5-0 — Hunter Herrington (113, tech), Tanner Hill (152, 4 pins & major) and Jeffrey Lascano (195, 2 pins and decision).
An additional five Fleming wrestlers were 4-0, completing the list of all-conference picks: Ryan Hobson (120, pin & decision); Isaac Padgett (132, 3 pins & tech); Dalton Williams (138, 2 pins/tech/decision); Chad Nix (220, 3 pins); and Raul Gonzalez (285, pin & 2 decisions). One more Golden Eagle, Gavin Smith (170, 3 pins) added a 3-2 night to the table.
At their final two weights, Fleming went with mix-and-match combos, both of which provided better than .500 records. The Golden Eagle combo of Hunter Williams and Josh Sandoval was 4-1, with a pin and two decisions, while the 126 combo of Riley Holton and Liam McKenzie was 3-2, with a tech.
Here are the other five teams that competed in the tournament Wednesday:
Matanzas (4-1, 8-3 overall): The hosts rolled through their first four duals, giving up just four individual losses through the first three. The Pirates defeated Middleburg (71-5) in round 1, Pedro Menendez (72-6) in round 2, Palatka (69-12) in round 3 and Orange Park (52-30) to set up the finale with Fleming. Matanzas was the only other team besides the Golden Eagles to receive multiple all-conference nods, in Shaun Culbreth (126, tech & 2 decisions) and Quenteen Robinson (170, 4 pins & decision); both wrestlers were 5-0, while Braden Hawley (106, pin) and Griffin Wilder (145, 3 pins) each had 3-0 tournaments.
Ethan Goodman (120, 2 pins), George Joanos (132, 3 pins & decision), Sam Russo (138, 3 pins & decision), Noel Alicea (152, 3 pins & major) and Drew Castanheira (160, 3 pins & decision) all were 4-1 for the Pirates, while Henson White (113), Tristian Williams (182, 2 pins), Pete Grimm (220, 2 pins) and Robert Elder (285, 2 pins) all were 3-2 for Matanzas.
Orange Park (3-2, 15-9 overall): The Raiders had to struggle to push past Palatka in the opening , winning on most-wins criteria for a 37-36 dual victory, but their wins over Pedro Menendez (67-12 in round 3) and Middleburg (63-12 in round 5) were more to form for a full team. Besides Janssen and Chop, Orange Park’s Jacob Moore (182, 4 pins) was the only wrestler in the conference to max-point through the tournament, netting him the all-conference nod at that weight. Cameron Broughton (145, 3 pins & tech), Julian Moore (195, 2 pins) and James McArthur (220, 3 pins) each were 4-1 for the Raiders, while Yamilie Lopez (106), Wesley Carlisle (113/120, pin) and Davon Bailey (120/126, major & decision) each were 3-2.
Pedro Menendez (1-4, 4-6 overall): The Falcons had just 10 weights filled (none lighter than 132), but employed a mix-and-match approach at five of those 10 weights, with a 32-30 victory over Middleburg in round 4. Connor Spossey (170, 2 pins & decision) was the lone Menendez wrestler to carry off a 4-1 record, while both Alex Binkiewicz (138, 2 pins) and Logan Parham (195/220) were both 3-2 on the night.
Palatka (1-4, 2-8 overall): The Panthers also had just 10 wrestlers in the lineup, making competition against fuller teams difficult, but two of their duals went to criteria, including their 37-36 victory over Pedro Menendez in round 5 (criteria being most wins). Ontarriyus Reid (120/126, 2 pins and tech) and Marlon Williams (285, 4 pins) each were 4-1 for Palatka, while Mikada Harvey (106, 2 pins) had a 3-1 tournament.
Middleburg (1-4, 9-6 overall): Also giving up four forfeits from the jump, the Broncos were going to have a difficult time, but did take a 30-26 victory over Palatka in round 2. Caden Berg (3-0, pin & tech) was the all-conference choice at 106, while Alex Nayfack (160, 2 pins & decision) was 3-2 on the night.
All 15 duals contested in the tournament can be found HERE.
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