By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
ORANGE PARK — With one month to go prior to the FHSAA traditional tournament series beginning, some teams with high expectations for the year have had to readjust their plans.
And some teams with diminished expectations, while not worldbeaters at this stage, are certainly trending in the right direction. Two that are doing so at the moment are Nease and New Smyrna Beach, both of which were 5-0 on Wednesday night at the Orange Park Duals.
The St Johns Panthers defeated Ridgeview (54-28) in Round 1, Union Cty (78-6) in Round 2, Ponte Vedra (60-18) in Round 3, Pedro Menendez (72-12) in Round 4 and host Orange Park (39-37) to close out the night.
“Feels amazing,” Nease coach Bradley Lucas said. “When we were here the first week of the season and we went 2-3, or 3-2, or whatever it was, it was a rough start.
“We’re young. New. A lot of new faces to the sport, and they’ve had a lot of things to work on, but they’ve worked hard, and it’s starting to pay off. It takes a team effort. Patience.”
Two Panthers were 5-0 “max-pointers” (scored 6 team dual points in every dual contested). Trevion Demus (19th-3A at 113, 3 pins) and Kobe Ross (195, 3 pins) max-pointed for the Panthers, while Parker Stamschror (120, pin & decision) and Jalon Lumar (138, 3 pins) were each 3-0 in regular but not exclusive roles.
Brielle Bibla (106, 3 pins), Chad Severt (152, 4 pins), Anthony Tanza (160, 3 pins), Donald Haraway (220, 2 pins) and Brandon Almaria (285, 3 pins) were all 4-1 for Nease, while Andrew Ryan (145, 3 pins), Colin White (170, pin) and Mario Powers (182, 3 pins) each had 3-2 records for the Panthers.
Likewise, New Smyrna Beach — which got off to a slow start after a very strong dual meet season in 2018-19 — appears to be hitting stride, with wins over St Augustine (42-30) in Round 1, Orange Park (37-36, criteria) in Round 2, Pedro Menendez (60-6) in Round 3, Ponte Vedra (55-24) in Round 4 and Union Cty (60-24) in Round 5 — had a perfect night.
“Best we’ve wrestled in some time. We’re trying to get ready for 5 Star (Conference) and districts, and it’s the best we’ve wrestled, especially some of our younger guys,” Barracudas coach Kevin Kehoe said. “We wanted to get a lot better on bottom and we got some five-point moves. More aggressive with everything we’re doing, with what we practiced.
“We got a lot of cradle pins today and we want to be a cradle-pinning team.”
Jace Engberg (17th-2A at 126, 2 pins & injury-default) and Austin Mitchum (195, 3 pins) were 5-0 max-pointers for the Barracudas, whle Michael Shannon (8th-2A at 132, 4 pins & decision) and Justis Chandler (138, pin/injury default/major & 2 decisions) were also 5-0 and unbeaten. In regular but not exclusive starting roles, Tristen Winfrey (120) and Braden Sullivan (160, 3 pins) were both 3-0.
Susan Pacini (113, 3 pins) and Hunter Lupien (145/152, 2 pins & 2 decisions) were both 4-1 for the ‘Cudas, while Hunter Childress (145, 3 pins) was 3-1 and both Thomas Evans (152/160, 3 pins) and Dale Edwards (182, 2 pins) were 3-2 for New Smyrna Beach.
Below follows a summary of the other six teams in the tournament:
Orange Park (3-2): The Raiders effectively took third, with two losses by a combined total of three points, with wins over Ponte Vedra (65-15), St Augustine (51-21) and Ridgeview (53-18). “We were poised to do some damage at the beginning of the year,” Orange Park coach Justin Daniels said. “It’s a great reminder of what coaching has to be about: keeping kids in the sport, coaching the sport, pushing the strong kids hard when they need to be and growing the kids that aren’t where they need to be yet.”
Led by James McArthur (12th-2A at 220, who was a 5-0 max-pointer (2 pins) and fellow unbeatens Cameron Broughton (4th-2A at 145; 4 pins & decision) and Jacob Moore (8th-2A at 182, 2 pins/tech/major/decision), Orange Park also got solid performances from Wesley Carlisle (4-1 at 113/120, 2 pins) and Trevion Sermons (4-1 at 152, 3 pins & decision), while Durrionte Myrick (120/126, 2 pins) and Vincent Walker (132, pin & decision) were both 3-2 and Cevan Broughton (126, pin) was 2-2.
St Augustine (3-2): The Yellow Jackets took wins over Ridgeview (37-36 in criteria in Round 2), Union Cty (39-30 in Round 4) and Ponte Vedra (60-24 in Round 5) despite forfeiting at four weights. Clint Griffin (160, 4 pins) was a 5-0 max-pointer for the Yellow Jackets, while Gavin Barro (106, 3 pins), Hayden Yanni (20th-2A at 152, 3 pins & decision), Ryan Murphy (14th-2A at 182, 3 pins & major) and Justin Ballard (285, 3 pins) were all 4-1. Carlos Quintanal (138, 3 pins) and Nate Bumbalough (195/220, pin) were each 3-2 additionally for St Augustine.
Ponte Vedra (1-4): The Sharks employed a mix-and-match approach, starting 25 different wrestlers in the five duals, which included a 48-35 victory over Pedro Menendez in Round 2. Given that approach, only six Ponte Vedra wrestlers saw time in all five duals, and just two of those six — Julian Villegas (113/120) and Eric Ressler (195/220) were 3-2. Rett Maritato (20th-2A at 170, decision) also had three victories, going 3-1 on the night.
Pedro Menendez (1-4): The Falcons defeated Union Cty (48-30) in Round 1 for their one victory of the tournament. Connor Spossey (7th-1A at 170; 3 pins & tech at 170/182) was 5-0 to lead Menendez, while Logan Meehan (132, 2 pins) and Dane Litzinger (220, 2 pins) were each 3-2. Jacob Traydon (152/160, pin & decision) was 2-2 and Gavin Rosario (126, pin) 2-1 before taking a loss by injury-default.
Union Cty (1-4): The Tigers turned back Ridgeview in criteria, 43-42, in Round 3 for their lone victory. Four Union Cty wrestlers — Kale Waters (106/113), Christian Simmons (106/113, 2 pins), Davalier Blocker (220/285, 2 pins) and Daegan Gainey (220/285) — were each 3-2 on the night.
Ridgeview (1-4): The Panthers were very competitive in two more duals in addition to defeating Pedro Menendez, 48-27, in Round 5, falling in criteria twice. Blake Pu (17th-1A at 106, 4 pins) and Matthew Rodriquez (3rd-1A at 126; 4 pins at 126/132) each were 5-0 max-pointers for the Clay County Panthers. Ian Finnorn (138, 4 pins) and Gabe Guzman (9th-1A at 145, 3 pins & major) were both 4-1 for Ridgeview; in a part-time appearance, Robby Morris (120) was 3-0, while Shawn Tahir (126/132, pin) was 3-1 and Spencer Robertson (182, 3 pins) 3-2 for the Panthers.
Complete results from the night’s wrestling can be found HERE.
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