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#RoadToTheShow: Columbia Makes History With 2A-2 Title

columbiawins
Columbia wrestlers, coaches and managers are all smiles after taking the 2A-District 2 traditional tournament championship trophy Saturday afternoon at Lincoln (Photo submitted by Peter Whittington via Facebook).

North Florida Matmen staff report

TALLAHASSEE — Year after year, for the last 10 now, teams have tried and failed to figure out a way to push past Lincoln in district wrestling tournaments.

For around 30 years now, Columbia has sent teams to districts and gone home with a least a little disappointment of no team championship.

And while the Tigers had had solid regular-season performances this year, they’d not only not found a way to solve the Trojans in district dual competition, but also getting past Chiles was not to be as well.

Sometimes, though, the past is the past, and the now is all that matters. That was surely the case for Columbia on Saturday afternoon in the 2A-District 2 traditional tournament, as the Tigers overcame their decades-long history — and ended Lincoln’s 10-year grip on the district — with a team title.

“We had some kids really wrestle out of their minds,” Columbia coach Peter Whittington said in a phone interview with Matmen Saturday night. “My heart’s still pounding…it’s a crazy feeling. Beyond proud of these young men. Beyond proud.”

Columbia outpointed Lincoln, 167-149, for first place. The Tigers qualified 11 of their 12 wrestlers for next weekend’s 2A-Region 1 tournament, which Lincoln and Chiles co-host (with Chiles serving as physical host) starting Friday at noon.

“Right after the consi semis,” Whittington said, asked when the idea of winning a title moved from the theoretical to the real. “We were up by 30 after that round, and we knew if we could just win 50 percent of our placing matches, Lincoln couldn’t catch up to us.

“When Joseph Rice (at 170) won, we knew we had it locked up. Holy crap.”

There were not extra-special workouts this week in the Tiger room, at least other than that there was no live wrestling all week. “Just drilled 2 1/2 hours a day, nothing else,” Whittington said. “This really came out of the day. First round, the kids pinned out, and when Jayden Thomas (at 120) won his first match, it lifted the spirits of the entire team.”

Columbia had three titlists in the tournament in Alex McGuigan (138), Obie Smith (152) and Rice (170). The Tigers had five additional runners-up, two thirds and one fourth-place finisher.

Lincoln qualified eight wrestlers to regions for next week, with three champions, two runners-up and three thirds.

columbiawins
Columbia wrestlers, coaches and managers are all smiles after taking the 2A-District 2 traditional tournament championship trophy Saturday afternoon at Lincoln (Photo submitted by Peter Whittington via Facebook).

Elijah Hendley (106), Tanner Washburn (195) and Tyler Moss (285) were bracket winners for the Trojans.

In a tight battle for third place, it was Mosley that pushed past both Orange Park and Chiles to take the honor. The Dolphins had 128 points to the Raiders’ 125.5 and Timberwolves’ 119.

Mosley qualified out nine wrestlers for regions, with two champions in Nick Hejke (132) and Kaydon Lester (160).

Orange Park also moved nine wrestlers on to Chiles, with three champions, one runnerup, two thirds and three fourths. Davon Bailey (120), Cameron Broughton (145) and James McArthur (220) were titlists for the Raiders.

For Chiles, Hunter Brown (113) and Kyle McGill (182) won titles, as the Timberwolves qualified eight wrestlers out, with three runners-up, two thirds and one fourth.

Middleburg outpointed Leon, 67-52, for sixth. The Broncos qualified seven to regions (two thirds and five fourths), while the Lions moved three wrestlers on (one runnerup and one third, in addition to 126-lb champion Nolan Zirgibel). Gainesville had one fourth-place finisher and finished eighth with nine points.

Below follows a summary of the tournament:

106 — Hendley (5th statewide) won his second district title with two second-period pins over Mosley’s Cole Bell (20th statewide; 3:24) and over Chiles’ Garrett Marschka (16th statewide; 3:17) in the championship match. Marschka reached the final with a 5-4 semifinal win over Columbia’s Brett Millard (19th statewide); Millard then took third place with an 11-1 major over Bell.

113 — Brown (15th statewide) won his first district title; after a bye into the semis, Brown pinned Middleburg’s Jeffrey Parker (1:05), then pushed past Lincoln’s Jimmy Martin (14th statewide), 12-9, in the final. Martin had a bye into the semis also, pinning Leon’s Alex Crago in 34 seconds there. Parker wrestled back to third with a consi-semi tech over Mosley’s Bradley Pennington (17-1 in 4:05) and a 9-4 third-place win over Orange Park’s Wesley Carlisle, who’d punched his Chiles ticket with a 12-second pin in the consi semis over Crago.

120 — Bailey (9th statewide) had two wins for his first district title, with a semifinal tech over Columbia’s Thomas (18-3 in 5:40) and then a 7-1 decision over Lincoln’s Adam Barnes in the title match. Barnes got to the final with a fall over Mosley’s Darius Mailhot (:28) and then a 10-8 decision over Middleburg’s Riley Girgis. Girgis then wrestled back for third with a consi-semi fall over Chiles’ Juan Plenge (4:13) and a 19-3 tech (4:54) for third place over Thomas, who’d secured his region space with a fall in the consi semis over Mailhot (2:24).

126 — Zirgibel collected his first district title with pins over Lincoln’s Wesley Suta (1:24) in the semis and over Columbia’s Cooper Mote (2:32) in the championship match. After a bye, Mote reached the final with a 56-second fall over Orange Park’s Durrionte Myrick. Myrick made short work of two consis opponents in taking third, with falls over Chiles’ Mattias Garrett (:42) and Middleburg’s Ryan Browning (:38) in the medal match. Browning punched his Chiles ticket with a consi-semi pin over Suta in 4:03.

132 — Hejke (10th statewide) won by fall twice for his second district title and first with the Dolphins, with a 27-second semifinal pin over Orange Park’s Cevan Broughton and a fall in the finals over Columbia’s Ian McGuigan (6th statewide) in 2:30. After a bye, McGuigan majored Chiles’ Alex Adkins, 9-1, to get to Hejke. Adkins then won by fall twice to take third, first pinning Lincoln’s Zaire Fernanders-Jackson (1:51) in the consi semis and then falling Middleburg’s Gabe Burch in 2:56 for third. Burch punched his Chiles ticket with a consi-semi fall over Broughton (4:37).

138 — Alex McGuigan (10th statewide) had three wins for his second district championship. After a quarterfinal pin over Gainesville’s Zachary Collins (1:03), McGuigan pushed through a pair of decisions, taking down Orange Park’s Vincent Walker, 5-4, and Mosley’s Jaylan Griffin, 2-1, in the title match. Griffin pinned Leon’s Hudson Large (:56) and then decisioned Chiles’ Olufemi Egberongbe, 7-2, in the semis. Egberongbe rallied with a pair of bonus-point wins on the back for third, pinning Lincoln’s Connor Edwards (:37) in the consi semis and downing Walker, 11-5, for third. Walker had secured his region space with a 7-5 consi-semi win over Middleburg’s Ephraim Long.

145 — Cameron Broughton (4th statewide) reached a district final for the fourth time, taking his second title. Broughton pinned Lincoln’s Mason Kirkland in 1:19 in the semis, then downed Mosley’s Logan Gall, 9-2, in the title match. After a bye into the semi, Gall (12th statewide) won by third-period injury default over Columbia’s Thomas Greene. Undaunted, Greene came back for two bonus-point wins for third, falling Chiles’ Andrew Mullins (3:59) and majoring Middleburg’s Dalton Falana, 13-4, for third. Falana punched his Chiles ticket with a fall over Kirkland (3:38) in the consi semis.

152 — Smith (6th statewide) pinned his way through the draw for his first district title, with a semifinal pin over Leon’s Ethan Eudy (:49) and a fall in the finals over Mosley’s Jonathan Griffin in 5:48. Griffin had bonus-point wins over Middleburg’s Michael Higginbotham (pin in 1:49) and Orange Park’s Trevion Sermons (10-1 major). Eudy won twice on the back for third, decisioning Lincoln’s Patrick Blanca, 10-5, in the consi semis and majoring Gainesville’s Nicholas Hanson, 13-4, for third. Hanson secured his region space with a 10-9 double-overtime win over Sermons in the consi semis.

160 — Lester won his first district title, bookending a 25-second semifinal pin over Lincoln’s Cayden Bevis with decisions over Middleburg’s Alex Nayfack (11-8, quarters) and Columbia’s Preston O’Quinn, 9-4, in the championship match. O’Quinn falled Gainesville’s William Marshall (2:40) and decisioned Chiles’ Will Wiggins, 9-4, in the semis. Bevis rallied back for third with pins over Marshall (1:14) in the consi semis and Nayfack (3:27) in the third-place match. Nayfack pushed past Wiggins, 5-4, in the consi semis to punch his Chiles ticket.

170 — Rice (12th statewide) won his first district title with a pair of decisions, taking down Mosley’s Noe Pena, 8-5, in the semis, and then found a takedown in sudden victory for a 7-5 win in the championship match over Chiles’ Kevonte Times. After a bye into the semis, Times (15th statewide) majored Middleburg’s Brayden Weaver, 12-3, to get to Rice. Pena battled back for third behind pins over Gainesville’s Logan Fernandez-Smith (2:14, consi semis) and Weaver (3:28) for third place. Weaver pushed past Lincoln’s Andrew Collins, 5-3, in the consi semis, securing his region space.

182 — McGill (7th statewide) won twice for his second district title, falling Mosley’s Isaac Hall in the semis (:58) and then taking down 8th-ranked Jacob Moore of Orange Park, 4-1, in the championship match. Moore reached the final with a 12-8 semifinal win over Lincoln’s Wyatt Yown, who came back for third with two bonus-point wins over Gainesville’s Carlos Nelson (fall in :59, consi semis) and over Hall (10-0 major) for third place.

195 — Washburn (9th statewide) bonus-pointed through the bracket for his second district title, with a 52-second semifinal pin over Orange Park’s Geoffrey Delice, following up with an 11-1 major over Chiles’ Austin Wheeler (17th statewide). Wheeler falled Columbia’s Shawn Raggins in 3:21 to reach the final; Raggins came back for third with an unrecorded fall time over Delice.

220 — McArthur (11th statewide) won his first district title with falls over Lincoln’s Omarion LaRoach (:49) in the semis, and over Leon’s Josh Seabrooks (4:57) in the championship match. Seabrooks (16th statewide at 195) had a bye into the semi, where he pinned Mosley’s Logan Strickland in 1:18. LaRoach wrestled back to third with two pins in 57 seconds, falling Middleburg’s Nate Hill (:29) in the consi semis and Strickland (:28) for third place. Strickland punched his Chiles ticket with a fall in 3 minutes over Columbia’s Jesse Braden.

285 — Moss (11th statewide) won his first district title with a forfeit in the semis, then taking an 8-5 championship-match victory over Columbia’s Jaycob Jones (14th statewide). Jones reached the final with a fall over Orange Park’s Reese Sheehan, who claimed third place with a win by forfeit over Chiles’ Sterling Moon.

Complete brackets from the tournament can be found HERE.

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