By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — There’s been a couple of FHSAA dual-team district tournaments contested around Florida already.
But North Florida’s dual team tournament series kicked off on Monday night at Episcopal, and Yulee became the first of 11 area district duals champions with two dominant victories, first over Fernandina Beach (63-15) in the semis and then Bishop Kenny (66-9) in the final.
“Kids stepped up tonight,” Hornets coach Brandon Crowder said. “They wrestled really well, and we’re proud of them.
“It’s going to be good (being at home next week). Definitely helps us out. We know how tough Clay is. We’re certainly not a juggernaut program by any means. We’re just trying to get better every week, just want to give the kids the best chance to succeed at traditional districts (next month).”
The Crusaders will join the Hornets at Yulee on January 16 in the 1A-Region 1 quarterfinal round, by virtue of their 44-33 semifinal victory over host Episcopal. Bishop Kenny will face the District 4 champion and Yulee will take on the District 4 runnerup that night.
“We look at every great program like Clay, like Yulee, as a chance to see what we can achieve. Adversity’s always an opportunity to shine,” Bishop Kenny coach Nick Tillem said. “Just because a state qualifier is across from you, we’re going to go out and show you what we are.”
Episcopal took third in the event with a 48-30 victory over Fernandina Beach. Below follows a recap of each of the four duals contested on the evening:
Yulee-Fernandina Beach: With a 152 start weight, the dual was pretty tight through the first five weights, with the Hornets only up 16-12 on a fall from Keleb Reddish (182) and a 20-8 major from Aston Ricks (160), as the Pirates had answering pins from Jeremiah Giedrys (170) and Tyler Harris (195). But Yulee put on a 29-0 run — fueled significantly by forfeits, but also by a pin from Lewis Duhan (106) and 17-2 tech from Trevor Gladson at 120 — to go up 33 and clinch the dual. The Pirates’ Jeremy Mahoney broke the Hornet win streak with a 5-0 win at 126, but the damage was already done before Dietrich Woods’ fall at 138 closed out contested wrestling.
Bishop Kenny-Episcopal: The hosts burst away to a 21-4 lead through the first five weights, turning aside Daniel Maher’s 9-1 major at 152 with four straight wins, including pins from Brennan Doherty (170), John Fernandez (182), Lawson Perry (195) and a 9-3 win at 160 from Reid Hampton. Bishop Kenny cut the lead to 21-16 with a pin from Kevin Thallemer at 220, but the Eagles made it a double-digit lead again (33-20), as pins from Scott Busey (106) and Joe Jackson (120) sandwiched a Crusader major from Ryan Mayer at 113. Needing a run to make it to the region round, the Crusaders got it from their middles, as Sebastian Deara (126), Brock Hinson (132) and Roberto Cuartero (145) all racked up pins as the significant part of a 24-0 closeout in Bishop Kenny’s favor.
Episcopal-Fernandina Beach: The Pirates started out fast, getting out to an 18-6 lead on pins from Giedrys at 170 and Harris at 195, but a pair of forfeits up top in the Eagles’ favor tied the dual at 18. The teams traded points from 106 through 126 to stay tied at 30, but Episcopal closed out on top with an 18-point run to close out the dual; that run included a fall from Noah Meyer (138) in a clinching contested match. Doherty (this time at 160) and Cohen Chesser (106) also had pins for the Eagles, while Caden Kubatzke (120) and Mahoney (126) had falls for Fernandina Beach.
Yulee-Bishop Kenny: The Hornets roared out to a 42-0 lead on seven straight falls to open the dual, with Ricks (160), Collin Sewell (170), Reddish (182), Joseph Michel (195), Bradley Durrance (220), Darquill Brown (285) and Duhan (106) all winning by pins. Mayer stopped the bleeding for Bishop Kenny, for a moment anyway, with a fall at 113, but Gladson slammed the door with a fall at 120 to clinch the dual in the Hornets’ favor. Dylan Johns (132) also won by fall and both Woods (138) and Bees (145) took 7-6 wins to wrap up the dual; Deara’s 8-6 win at 126 was the Crusaders’ only other victory.
Yulee, Bishop Kenny and Fernandina Beach will re-congregate on Friday for the Hornets’ Joe Bees Memorial Battle of the Border, a two-day IBT, while Episcopal will go to Terry Parker on Friday for the USMC Duals two-day tournament.
Complete results from the night can be found HERE. We will be adding to this results page throughout the week.
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