By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — Free of the juggernaut that is part and parcel of competing in 3A-District 1, and coming into a district with the last few champions having relocated to other districts due to reclassification, there was a chance for Fletcher and Robert E. Lee to forge a new history with the FHSAA dual team tournament.
And the Senators and Generals created that new history on the Terry Parker mats Tuesday night, as both will punch their tickets to Region 1 competition for the first time in the three-year history of the dual team tournament series.
Fletcher will take on the added blessing of hosting on January 16, as the Senators defeated district host Terry Parker (66-18), the Generals (58-22) and Ponte Vedra (54-29) for their first wrestling district title in some while after dominating, along with Sandalwood, the Gateway Conference in the 2010s. The Senators will face the District 4 runnerup — to be determined on Saturday at Matanzas — in the Region 1 quarterfinals at home.
“We knew what the strength of their team was going to be, since we coach a few of the Ponte Vedra kids in our offseason club,” Fletcher coach David Harrison said. “We gave up sixes in a couple of places we didn’t expect, but the back (lower weight) end of our lineup was what carried us.
“I’m not going to lie, this one meant a lot to me. We have three 9th-graders in the lineup, so I felt like this year would be the year with a good IBT team. I’ve been nervous about duals, but (assistant coach Paul) Schloth pushed me about duals. They’re too nerve-wracking.
Fletcher had eight wrestlers go unbeaten on the night Tuesday. Of those eight, seven were max-pointers (scored 6 team dual points in every dual contested), and of those seven, four — Joel Rodriguez (152), Stone Rockhill (182), Michael Strong (195) and Ethan Hollenbach (220) — had pins in all three duals.
The Senators got max-point efforts from Ana Bradshaw (106, 2 pins), Ryden Ashmore (113, pin) and Gabriel Daltro (126, pin), while Tyson Petrie (145, 2 pins & major) also was unbeaten on the night. Hayden North (120) contributed two pins as well for Fletcher.
With the Senators beating Lee in the semis and Ponte Vedra in what was for the moment only the winner’s bracket final, that meant a battle for true second between the Generals and Sharks. While Ponte Vedra had made progress on the physicality front from a year ago, at some weight classes there was just too much of a strength and age disadvantage that worked in Lee’s favor, as the Generals won six straight contested matches for a 48-30 win.
Robert E. Lee will take on the District 4 champ in the Region 1 quarters at Fletcher on the 16th.
“The thing is, they got to get rid of that stigma that they can’t be on top. Wrestle your style of wrestling. You wrestle your style, and with heart, you will be victorious,” Generals coach Ricky Hicks said. “We still want to be doing basics. If you have six basic moves and master them, you can win. Make it repetitive, make it like breathing.”
Lee had beaten First Coast, 38-28, in the quarterfinals, for the Generals’ first win.
Two Generals — Glynn Academy (GA) transfer Jamal Burkes (120/126, 2 pins & tech) and Ahmahd Denmark (160, 2 pins & decision) were both 3-0 on the night, while Ricky Hicks Jr. (106, pin), Ty’Juan Jones (138, 2 pins), Savion Johnson (152, pin & decision), Keshawn Waters (182, 2 pins), Jeremy Porter (195, 2 pins) and Craig Harper (220, decision & pin) all won twice for Lee.
Ponte Vedra had reached the final behind wins over Westside (58-21) and Englewood (46-34) before taking losses to the Senators and Generals, respectively.
Alex De Almeida (138, 4 pins) led the charge for the Sharks on a 4-0 night, while Jackson Shewey (132, pin & tech), Ethan Baur (160, pin & major), Rett Maritato (170, 3 pins) and Harlan Nikolov (220/285, 3 pins) all were 3-1. Aiden Taylor (106, 2 pins), Stephen Kowitski (126, pin & major), Luke Babin (145, 2 pins) and Austin Schottel (152, pin) each won twice for Ponte Vedra.
Englewood took down Stanton, 60-22, but found itself on the short end of the stick after a 46-34 semifinal loss to Ponte Vedra, as the Sharks’ loss to Fletcher meant that Lee, and not the Rams, would get a shot in the true-second match. Jeffrey Parker (113, pin), Raequan Staples (120, major), Lynden North (132, 2 pins), Darryl Sam (182, 2 pins) and Justin Mendez (195, 2 pins) both had two victories, as did the 285 combo of Neil Gutierrez and Isiah Musca, both winning by pin.
First Coast, Stanton and Westside all got just one dual on the evening, due to tournament format.
The Buccaneers got pins against Lee from Devante Wyatt (170) and Dylan Lampkin (285), plus a 12-1 major from Josiah Mossor at 145. Stanton got pins from Gabriel Navarro (138), Liam Salem (145) and Jesse Liu (152), plus a major from Artin Rezaei at 120. Westside had pins from Jacare Johnson (120), John Merritt (182) and Ray Bolden (285), plus an 11-4 win from Angelo Philpot (170).
Complete results from all rounds of the tournament can be found HERE.
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