By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
KISSIMMEE — Saturday follows a familiar script for Fleming Island.
For the third year in a row, the Golden Eagles square off with South Dade with a FHSAA 3A state dual team championship on the line.
But, for the first time, they’ll meet the Buccaneers in a 2 p.m. semifinal rather than in the finals, after Fleming Island turned back Hagerty, 36-28, to win the Region 1 title Friday night at Osceola. The Golden Eagles remain the only north Florida team to win region dual titles all three years of the dual team tournament’s existence.
But, with the bracketing rotating in three-year increments, so that one year in every three the Region 1 and Region 4 champs meet in the semis rather than opposite sides of the bracket, 2020 is the year that the Buccaneers and Golden Eagles meet a bit earlier than usual.
South Dade reached the semis for the third time as Region 4 champs with a 57-7 win over Cypress Bay over in the other corner of the Osceola gym. The Fleming Island-South Dade winner will face off against either host Osceola (Region 2 champ, defeated Palm Harbor University, 33-28) or Wellington (Region 3 champ, defeated Palm Beach Gardens, 52-27).
“It’s still about going out to wrestle the guy that’s in front of you. Doesn’t matter who he is, doesn’t matter where he’s from, doesn’t matter what round it is. Still gotta be solid, still gotta stay in position,” Fleming Island coach PJ Cobbert said.
“We knew (the Hagerty dual) would come down to those last couple of weights. They have some tough kids that can beat anybody in the gym.”
And for 12 weights, the teams slugged it out in a battle of attrition, with neither team winning more than two in a row until the end of the dual. But where Hagerty largely fought their way to decisions, Fleming Island used four pins to devastating effect.
Those came from Hunter Herrington (113), Isaac Padgett (132), Gannon Janssen (145) and Chad Nix (220); all but Padgett’s came very early, and Padgett was in a tight match before breaking out his tilts, with devastating effect.
But for all those pins, Hagerty hung in, slugging away for all it was worth, but only had two contested wins that resulted in extra dual points.
“They got bonus points when they needed them and we couldn’t get them,” Huskies coach Scotty Diaz said. “We’ve worked hard and put a lot of our kids in good position, and we wanted to beat them, because they’ve been on top of the region for so long.
“Obviously, we’re not quite there yet.”
Still, though, the Huskies led after five weights and fought out of the hole Janssen created with his first-period fall to regain the lead, 22-21, with four weights to go and both teams with forfeits in hand.
But Fleming Island slammed the door, as Jeffrey Lascano (195) took a 5-2 win and Chad Nix (220) won by fall in 20 seconds.
“I feel great about our team’s performance,” Lascano said of the third region title effort. “I love the pressure; it’s a privilege, and we embrace it. We’re closer than ever (to facing South Dade again).
“We’ll check weight and then I’m sure PJ will have us run a practice. Maybe eat, maybe go for a run…we’ll hang out. We’ll be ready.”
Below follows a summary of the other three region finals:
Region 4: The two-time champion Buccaneers ran out to a 47-0 lead with 10 straight wins from 113 through 182, with pins from Alexander Couto (120), Cordell White (138), Joshua Swan (152) and Steven Villalobos (160). Jose Gonzalez (126) had a tech fall, and Jan Rivera (113), Adrian Neco (132), Bretli Reyna (145) and Tanavieus Shropshire (220) all had majors, with Bryan Valdes (170) and Jalen Durham (182) winning by decision. Christian Deluna (195) got Cypress Bay on the board with a decision, while Andrew Punzalan closed out the dual with a major.
Region 2: Osceola won the last five weights to rally from a 28-15 deficit and advance to the semis. George Duncan (126), Jaekus Hines (138) and Marvin Caballero (220) had pins for the Kowboys, while Nolin Eaddy (182) took a major and Joseph Fernandez (132), Joel Campbell (195), Dylan Ruiz (285) and Cooper Haase (106) had decisions for Osceola. Palm Harbor University got two forfeits from the jump, with Colby Sparkman (152) adding a fall, David Pagan (170) a major and Michael Cuttitta (145) and Dawson Whitman (160) decisions.
Region 3: Wellington trailed early, 6-3, but came back to win five straight matches between 126 and 152, and closed out with 18 straight points to finish off Palm Beach Gardens. Sean Mauermann (132), Lukas Forehand (145), William Henry (152), Jorge Garcia (182) and Kristian Damaso (285) all had pins for Wellington, while James Marvel (126) had a major and Ryan King (113) and Jesse Weinberg (138) won by decision. For Palm Beach Gardens, Elijah Ortiz (120), William George (160) and Bakr Khaleel (170) all won by fall, while Bryan Canedo (195) took a major decision.
Complete dual results from the day can be found HERE.
JOIN us on Facebook at North Florida Matmen (you can also friend me on my personal page) or on Twitter at @NorthFLAMatmen.
South Georgia has ONE WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON left! Check out our latest reports on our affiliated site at http://sgamatmen.wordpress.com
Please support our independent journalism!