#TheRecap: It’s A Beast Four-Peat For Wakulla

Wakulla wrestlers and coaches celebrate their fourth consecutive Beast at the Beach dual tournament title Saturday at Ft Walton Beach HS (Photo by Heather Harrell).

North Florida Matmen staff report

FT WALTON BEACH — The beat at the Beast goes on for Wakulla.

Making a four-peat happen at Beast of the Beach almost didn’t happen for the War Eagles, which entered the tournament championship dual with less than an ideal lineup, as at least three projected post-season starters didn’t have full appearances in the tournament and a fourth such starter came in with injury but wrestled out the weekend nevertheless.

And lined up across the way was powerhouse Georgia team Veteran’s, which Peach State observers are touting as a 5A dual state finalist — at least — coming up in a few weeks.

But the team from the tiny town on the Forgotten Coast persevered against the Georgia hammers, earning the four-peat with a 37-35 championship-dual victory in the War Eagles’ first duals appearance of the 2019-20 season.

Wakulla (9-0) jumped out to a 16-0 lead on wins from Jayven Hearns (3-0 at 285), Julian Harvey (9-8 at 106), a 12-2 major from George Hernandez at 113 and fall from Juan Jimenez (1:08) at 120.

The teams traded pins at 126 and 132, with Matthew Owen (132) taking a 29-second fall, but then the Warhawks’ middles, including their most massive hammers on a team filled with them — including one Division I commit and a second Division I prospect — pulled Veteran’s into a 24-22 lead. The teams traded big bonus points over the next four weights, but the Warhawks were still up, 35-34, going into the final match of thousands contested.

In that one, senior Slade Watkins came through, taking a 7-3 win at 220 to give Wakulla a 37-35 victory and the championship.

But the War Eagles had a lot of wrestling before that, going 5-0 on Friday in the 2PM-B pool, with wins over Choctaw (81-0), host Ft Walton Beach (62-12), Auburn ALA’s #2 team (75-6), Crestview (78-4) and St Amant LA (60-10).

In the championship bracket, Wakulla rolled past Tate, 82-0, in the round of 16. The quarterfinal victory, a 39-27 win over Carrollton GA, was a tough one, as yet another War Eagle stalwart went down with injury. Still, though, Wakulla persevered, taking down Arab ALA, 43-30, in the semis, to set up the matchup with Veteran’s.

For a team that had so much team success, just one War Eagle survived the weekend undefeated. That was Hernandez, who was 9-0 at 113, with three pins, a major and decision.

Harvey (106, 2 pins & 2 decisions), Raymond Hatchman (126, 5 pins & decision), Chase Roberts (152, 7 pins & major), Cole Baggett (160, 6 pins & decision), Jackson Osteen (170, 7 pins), Watkins (220, 2 pins/major/3 decisions) and Jayven Hearns (285, 5 pins & decision) all were 8-1 for the War Eagles.

John Trevor Hinsey (195, 4 pins & decision) was 6-1, losing by injury-default in the Carrollton dual, while Jackson Merrick (138, 4 pins & major), who’d missed Capital City with a shoulder injury, came back to Beast and went 6-3 over the two days. Jimenez (120, 3 pins/major/decision) was 5-4. Making key appearances in regular but not exclusive starting roles were Owen (5-1 at 132, 5 pins), Jayvon Brown (4-1 at 182, pin & 2 decisions) and Tyler Edenfield (4-2 at 182/195, 2 pins).

Below follows a summary of the other area teams that were in the tournament, with all performances noted that had .500 or better records in a plurality of the duals in which the team contested:


Pace (4th and 7-2 overall; 5-0 in 8AM-B pool): The Patriots also rolled through the Friday morning/early afternoon session, with pool wins over Pigeon Forge TN (45-29), Brusly LA (54-15), Niceville (59-21), Tallassee ALA (48-31) and Ada OK (39-33). On Saturday, Pace opened with a pair of wins over local parents, winning over Marianna (48-33) in the round of 16 and the hosts (52-24). Pace nearly knocked off Veteran’s themselves in the semis, falling by a 36-33 count and then took a 44-33 loss in the third-place dual to Arab.

Four Patriot wrestlers were unbeaten on the weekend, as Derrick Lancero (120, 2 pins, 2 techs, 4 decisions), Ethan Billhimer (126, 6 pins & decision) and Gabe Jacobs (182/195, 8 pins & decision) were all 9-0 for Pace, while Joseph Cortez (152/160, 4 pins & decision) was 8-0 on the weekend. Cameron Goodenow (285, 6 pins) had an 8-1 tournament for the Patriots, while Seth O’Gara (138, 4 pins & tech) was 6-2 and Wyatt Dillon (195/220, 5 pins & decision) 6-3; Brody Andrews (160/170, 3 pins & decision) contributed a 5-4 tournament for Pace.


Ft Walton Beach (8th and 4-4 overall; 3-2 in 2PM-B pool): The Vikings won in pool over Auburn #2 (66-16), Crestview (64-18) and Choctaw (72-12), with an out-of-area loss to St Amant LA (43-29). In the championship pool, Ft Walton Beach turned back Archbishop Shaw, 42-32, in the round of 16; in the 5th place semis, the Vikings fell to Pigeon Forge (54-22), setting up a prospective second meeting with St Amant for seventh that was not wrestled in order to get the Louisiana team on the road home. Kaleb Williams (220, 2 pins/major/2 decisions) led Ft Walton Beach with a 7-1 record, while Eddie Alexis (182, 5 pins & decision) was 6-1. Jean Maldonaldo (152, 4 pins & decision) and Caleb Tourgee (160, 3 pins & 2 majors) were both 5-1 for the Vikings, while Weston Burbidge (126, 5 pins) and Patrick Adams (195, 3 pins & decision) were both 5-3. In a regular but not exclusive starting role, Brandon Mallin (120, 3 pins & major) was 4-2, and Reid Gannon (106, 2 pins), Carter Tobik (170, 3 pins) and Spencer Mackenzie (285, 3 pins & injury-default) were all 4-4 for the Vikings.


Crestview (14th and 3-5 overall; 2-3 in 2PM-B pool): The 2A Bulldogs had pool victories over Choctaw (54-24) and Auburn #2 (48-18), with an out-of-area loss to St Amant (69-12). On Saturday, Crestview lost to Pigeon Forge (66-18) in the round of 16, then took a loss in the 9th-place quarters to Ada (60-22), but won their final contested dual in the 13th-place quarters over Tate (48-18); the Bulldogs did not wrestle for 13th against Brusly. Kennard Madden led the charge for Crestview at 220, with 3 pins on a 6-2 weekend. AJ Richardson (120, 4 pins & major), Easton Flamand (138, 2 pins) and Jakob Allen (145/152, 2 pins & major) each were 5-3 on the weekend, while Andrew Sippos (132, 2 pins & decision) and Luke Baker (182, 3 pins) each added 4-4 weekends for the Bulldogs.


Marianna (15th and 3-6 overall; 2-3 in 2PM-A pool): The 1A Bulldogs took losses in their first three pool duals, but rallied for wins over Tate (48-30) and Wakulla #2 (54-18), with out-of-area losses to Auburn (54-24) and Veteran’s (63-6). On Saturday, Marianna fell in the 9th-place quarters to Archbishop Shaw LA (52-30) and 13th-place quarters to Brusly (42-36) before taking a team forfeit win in the 15th-place match over Tate. Marianna’s top upper weights — John Maddox (170/182, 4 pins), Christian Cosson (170/182, 3 pins) and Corey Davis (195/220, 6 pins & decision) — all were 8-1 to lead the Bulldogs, with Chase Maddox (160, 6 pins) not far behind at 7-2. Dustin Arnold (132, 3 pins) and Trett Phillips (138, 3 pins) each contributed 5-4 weekends for Marianna.


Tate (16th and 2-6 overall; 2-3 in 2PM-A pool): The Aggies found pool victories over Wakulla #2 (60-24) and Arnold (42-41), with out-of-area losses to Veteran’s (65-18) and Auburn (48-36). The day was tough on Tate, though, as five wrestlers that started Friday didn’t come over to Saturday, and that resulted in three contested losses before the Aggies left the tournament, with an out-of-area loss in the 9th-place quarters to Auburn (48-30). Chad Luckey (160, 5 pins) was Tate’s top wrestler, with a 6-2 tournament. Ashtyn Allen (195, 2 pins) was 4-3 and both Daniel McGaha (120, 3 pins) and Gabriel McKinley (220, 3 pins) were 4-4 during the weekend for the Aggies. In regular but not exclusive starting roles, Marcus Virgin (126, 3 pins), Ethan Loenichen (170/182) and Landen George (285) were all 3-2 as well for Tate.


Gulf Breeze (17th and 3-4 overall; BOTR 1st, 1-4 in 8AM-A pool): It was a tough Friday for the Dolphins, who took only one pool win, over Milton (70-12), with losses to Carrollton (46-31), Collierville TN (63-18), Arab (66-14) and Archbishop Shaw (57-24). Gulf Breeze rallied in Best of the Rest; after a quarterfinal bye, the Dolphins hammered Tallassee (51-30) and won the group with a 43-30 victory over Arnold to close out the weekend. In a regular but not exclusive starting role, Ian Daily (126/132, 3 pins) was 4-0 for the Dolphins. Nate Weber (106, pin/tech/decision) was 5-1 and Logan Merritt (120, 3 pins) 5-2 for Gulf Breeze, while both Colson Elliott (126, 3 pins & decision) and Wyatt Sise (145, 2 pins/tech/major) were 4-3. Kelly Scanlon (132, 2 pins) was 3-1 and Julian McCully (195, 2 pins) 3-3 in regular but not exclusive starting positions.


Arnold (18th and 3-4 overall; BOTR 2nd, 2-3 in 2PM-A pool): The Marlins had pool victories over Marianna (42-36) and Wakulla #2 (42-36), with losses in pool to Veteran’s (61-12) and Auburn (46-27). In Best of the Rest, Arnold had a bye into the semis, where it took down Niceville, 39-34, reaching the final. Will Ashby (120, 5 pins) and Nick Kendrick (152, 3 pins) each were 6-1 for the Marlins, while Lucas Biddle (113, 3 pins) had a 5-2 weekend. Max Gaylord (160, pin) and Justin Harry (220, pin & decision) each were 4-3 for the Marlins during the tournament.


Niceville (20th and 2-6 overall; BOTR 4th, 1-4 in 8AM-B pool): The Eagles found a pool victory, taking down Brusly (37-36, most first-points criterion), with losses in pool to Ada (42-27), Pigeon Forge (78-6) and Tallassee (49-30). In Best of the Rest, Niceville knocked off Choctaw (45-21) in the quarters, falling to Tallassee, 42-39, in the third-place match. Martin Black (170, 5 pins) and Ramsey Kidder (220/285, 6 pins & decision) were both 7-1 for the Eagles, wile Keane Creager (145/152, 4 pins) was 6-2. Noah Tritz (120, 3 pins & 2 decisions) and Jayden Pinto (132, 3 pins & decision) were both 5-3 and Ty Hawkins (138, 2 pins & major) and Bryce Travis (182, 2 pins) both were 4-4 for Niceville during the tournament.


Wakulla #2 (21st and 1-6 overall; BOTR 5th, 0-5 in 2PM-A pool): The second War Eagles unit did struggle against five starting groups in pool; in addition to the losses noted above, Wakulla #2 fell to Auburn (66-18) and Veteran’s (66-10). In Best of the Rest, the War Eagles fell to Tallassee, 65-12, but closed out the day with a 36-34 fifth-place win over Choctaw. Hayden Reeves (195, 4 pins) led the way individually with a 5-2 weekend, while Caleb Orr (106, pin), Bradley Martin (126, 3 pins) and Daniel Brattain (182, pin) all were 4-3. In a regular but not exclusive starting role, Dylan Harvey (160, 2 pins) was 2-2 for Wakulla.


Choctaw (22nd and 1-6 overall; BOTR 6th, 1-4 in 2PM-B pool): The Indians did find a pool victory over Auburn #2 (33-27), with an out-of-state pool loss to St Amant (66-9). David Tambula (113, major & decision) and Samuel Santos (182, 3 pins & decision) each were 5-2 during the weekend for Choctaw.


Milton (T-23rd and 0-5 overall; no BOTR duals, 0-5 in 8AM-A pool): The Panthers struggled in Friday-only wrestling. Other than the loss noted above, Milton also fell to Arab (73-6), Carrollton (78-6), Archbishop Shaw (78-6) and Collierville (66-12). Still, though, Daniel McDonal (170, 4 pins) max-pointed his Beast experience, with a 5-0 day.

Match-by-match results for every dual contested in the tournament (around 100 of them or so) can be found HERE.

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