By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
PONTE VEDRA BEACH — District duals, and the way they went down, hasn’t sat well with Ponte Vedra’s program literally from the moment the Sharks left the Terry Parker gym five weeks ago on the outside looking in.
Thursday night, in the Battle for the Bridge, the Sharks got their last tuneup chance prior to meeting their district foes next week — again at Terry Parker — with a 40-31 win over St Johns County rival Nease on the road, putting a damper on the Panthers’ Senior Night.
“There’s built-up animosity there. We told the seniors on the way over, `this is the very last time to say you beat Nease’ and, not going to sugarcoat it, we take pride in beating Nease,” Ponte Vedra coach Josean Gonzalez said. “Kids really battled. Super proud of our older guys. They went out and fought for their team.
“Next week (the 2A-District 3 tournament) has been on my mind since duals. We felt a little deflated (after finishing third),” Gonzalez said. “But the season’s not over yet. You have to keep fighting for the next best thing.
“I think in my heart that we’re contenders, but it depends on what kind of Ponte Vedra team shows up.”
The Sharks built leads of 13-0 and 25-4 early on, thanks to a Lucas Calamari fall (:56) at 182, a 13-4 major from Rett Maritato at 170 and 7-2 win from Ethan Baur at 160, plus two forfeits at 220 and 285, sandwiched around a Mario Powers 13-4 major at 195 for the St Johns Panthers.
Nease then climbed back into the dual, using the momentum — as it has several times throughout the year — provided by pins freshman Brielle Bibla (106) and senior Trevion Demus (113), plus a 3-2 win at 120 from Parker Stamschror, as the Panthers closed to within 25-19.
But the Sharks fought back with pins from Stephen Kowitski (126) and Jackson Shewey (132) to go up 37-19, and Alex De Almeida’s five-point move in the final seconds at 138 clinched a 10-4 win and dual win for Ponte Vedra. Nease finished the contested portion of the dual with a fall from Drew Ryan (145), plus a Ponte Vedra forfeit at 152.
“We fought hard, just came up shorts. Absence of the two heavies really hurts, but they’re coming back for district,” Nease coach Bradley Lucas said. “Bri (Bibla) and Tre (Demus) were attacking and Olivia (Carr, who lost by fall at 126), she was attacking too.
“That’s what we need. Constant attacking. We’re going to go to their place next year, and they have our trophy, and we’ll want it back. Hopefully this (loss) doesn’t sit well with the kids.”
Match-by-match results for this dual can be found HERE.
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