By SHANNON HEATON
North Florida Matmen
ST AUGUSTINE — It’s been a long time coming for the Atlantic wrestling team.
The Sharks’ senior class wasn’t even on solid food when Atlantic last won a district title back in 2003. And having to go through Lake Highland Prep in district competition can put a lot of mileage on a team, as the Sharks have had to do of late.
But there’s an upside to that path, as Atlantic found Wednesday, completing the sweep of 1A-District 5 dual and traditional titles Wednesday evening at Pedro Menendez.
“It builds your program, wrestling through tougher guys like that,” Sharks coach Kris Blasko said, still nursing a broken right ankle after scrapping with third-ranked heavyweight Jared Jackson in practice. “It built up the kids’ confidence, winning duals, but they’ve also gotten a lot better in the last couple of months. Their conditioning is better.”
The Sharks outpointed Palatka, 194-154.5, for the team title, qualifying 12 wrestlers for next week’s Region 2 meet at Palm Bay.
Of those 12, seven — Bernie Alvarez (113), Jamey Bruner (120), Jeremiah Epps (138), Avante Chamble (145), David Arcieri (160), Michael Sklare (220) and Jackson (285) were champions. Atlantic also had two runners-up, two thirds and one fourth.
Palatka had a comfortable gap between itself and the host Wednesday night, outpointing the Falcons by 42.5 points for second.
“We were hoping for first; if we’d gotten a couple of head-to-heads to go our way, it would have been a neck-and-neck battle,” Panthers coach Josh White said. “Our kids have had a lot better heart this year. We haven’t lost kids to grades, or flat-out just quit. We had a lot more people involved with the program, and that’s made a world of difference.”
Mikade Harvey (106), Drevon Wallace (126), Brandon Lewis (132) and Jack Tilton (195) won titles for the Panthers, who’ll take a group of 10 to Palm Bay on Friday, Feb. 28. Palatka had three runners-up and three thirds on the day.
Pedro Menendez had one champion on the day in Connor Spossey (170). The Falcons moved nine wrestlers on to the Region 2 meet, with five runners-up and three fourths.
“Disappointing. Kids didn’t get out in matches where they needed to get out. We had seven (six) in the finals and just couldn’t finish the job,” Falcons coach Kevin Leonard said. “They just needed to wrestle and we didn’t wrestle like we needed to today.”
Keystone Heights outdistanced FSDB, 73-49, for fourth place. The Indians will take six wrestlers to the Region 2 meet, led by 182-pound champion Eliyah Cole, with two runners-up, two thirds and one fourth.
The Dragons qualified out five wrestlers to Region 2, with three thirds and two fourths. Lake Weir had 26 points and two qualifiers, including 152-pound champion Jason Marquis.
Below follows a summary of the tournament:
106 — Harvey won his first district title by making weight Wednesday, as he was the only wrestler in the bracket.
113 — The same was true for Alvarez in winning his first district title, as the only 113 in the bracket.
120 — Bruner (13th statewide in rankings released Wednesday night) reached the final with a fall over FSDB’s Lance Gardenhire (1:26), then overcame Palatka’s Ontarriyus Reid (12th) in the final, avenging a district duals loss with a 13-8 decision for his first title. Reid reached the final with a semifinal pin over Keystone’s Samuel Ulsch (1:36). Gardenhire won twice on the back for third, with bonus-point wins over Pedro Menendez’s Joseph Lepera (:24; Lepera had lost by fall to Ulsch in 1 minute in a pigtail) and Ulsch (12-3) for third place.
126 — Wallace (14th) won his second district title (4th time as a finalist) with first-period falls over FSDB’s Ty Snow (1:14) in the semis and Pedro Menendez’s Gavin Rosario (1:30) in the championship match. Rosario reached the final with a first-period pin over Atlantic’s Tyler Livingston (1:09) in the semi. Livingston then had pins over Keystone Heights’ Lorelei Tarvit (lost by fall in :50 in pigtail to Snow) and a second one over Snow (3:59) for third place.
132 — In the closest final of the day, Lewis (20th), who’d teched FSDB’s Sean Meyers (15-0 in 4 minutes) to get there, overcame Atlantic’s Azizbek Rustamiy, 7-5 in sudden victory, for the championship, his second. Rustamiy falled the hosts’ Logan Meehan in 1:15 in the semis. Meyers came back for third with pins over Keystone Heights’ Canyon Hayes (2:09; Hayes lost by fall to Meehan in a pigtail) and Meehan (2:58) in the medal match.
138 — Epps took two first-period pins to win his first district title, with pins over FSDB’s Josh O’Connor (1:22) in the semi and Palatka’s DJ Nealy in 1:20 in the finals match. Nealy pinned Pedro Menendez’s Alex Binkiewicz (3:23) in the semis to secure a space in the final. O’Connor then had a bye in the consi semis before falling Binkiewicz (who’d punched his Palm Bay ticket with a consi-semi pin in 2:04 over Keystone’s Jonas Cole) in 31 seconds for third.
145 — Chamble also had a pair of first-period falls for his first district title, pinning Lake Weir’s Grant Kincannon (1:44) in the semi and Pedro Menendez’s Jose Ruiz (1:38) in the title match. Ruiz falled Palatka’s Adaris Medina (2:37) in the semis; Medina then pinned FSDB’s Jason Lubin (earlier loss by pin to Kincannon) in 28 seconds and Kincannon in 4:26 for third.
152 — In a two-person bracket, Marquis won his first district title with a 10-4 decision over Pedro Menendez’s Nathan Luckadoo.
160 — Arcieri (19th) pinned twice for his first district title, with a semifinal pin over Palatka’s Samuel Lafferty (:44) and a fall in the final (4:52) over Keystone Heights’ Sheppard Wingate. Wingate reached the final with a 35-second pin over the hosts’ Jared Howard in the semis. Lafferty then pinned Wingate in :59 for third.
170 — In a two-person bracket, Spossey (6th) won his third district title with a first-period fall (1:20) over Atlantic’s Noah Anderson in the final.
182 — Cole picked up two pins in 1:42 for his first district title, first falling FSDB’s David Chinchilla in 22 seconds in the semis, and then pinning Pedro Menendez’s Dane Litzinger in 1:20 in the final. Litzinger falled Atlantic’s Christian Henry (3:50) in the semis; Henry needed just 48 seconds to fall Chinchilla for third.
195 — Tilton had two pins in exactly 2 minutes for his first post-season title in Florida, with a semifinal fall over Atlantic’s John Wyman (1:00). He then duplicated the feat in the final with a pin over Pedro Menendez’s Logan Parham in 1 minute. Parham secured his finals spot with a 9-1 major over Keystone Heights’ Steven Raab in the semis. Raab would take third with a pin over Wyman in 1:26 in the medal match.
220 — Sklare won twice for his first district title, pinning Palatka’s Lane Heuer (:25) in the semis and then falling Keystone Heights’ Gabe Adams in 1:21 for the title. Heuer had a bye for third place.
285 — In a three-person bracket, Jackson had to take the mat once, falling Palatka’s Marlon Williams in 37 seconds for his second district title. Williams had reached the final with a 22-second pin over Keystone Heights’ Cody Saley, who had a bye in the third-place match.
Complete brackets from this tournament can be found HERE.
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