#Simpson: Eight Champs Lift Pace

Pace wrestlers and coaches celebrate a title win Saturday at South Walton’s Scott Simpson Invitational IBT event (Photo submitted by Aaron Mitchell via FB).

SANTA ROSA BEACH — 2A teams ruled the roost at Saturday’s Scott Simpson Invitational, the inaugural version of that IBT, at South Walton.

It could have been that the 1A teams in the field all scrapped in three duals the night before, as part of the 1A-District 1 duals tournament also at South Walton, that made things easier, but Pace — the strongest team in the Panhandle — would have been favored to win the title either way.

And the Patriots flexed their muscle on Saturday, winning eight weight-class titles, including six in a row between 145 and 195. Pace had only three weights where it did not finish in the top four.

Niceville, behind a pair of titles, outdistanced its 2A rival Choctaw, 156-104.5, for second place. The Indians had two finalists.

Rutherford, which was T-4th in district duals Friday night, was the top 1A-District 1 team, thanks to four finalists and one of those as a champion. The Rams edged Arnold, 97-95, for fourth. Arnold also had four finalists and one champ.

Region 1 duals qualifiers Rocky Bayou Christian and South Walton tied for sixth; both the Knights and Seahawks had one champion. Wewahitchka, with one finalist, was eighth and Bay rounded out the field in ninth.

Complete brackets from the event can be found HERE.

Team scores: 1. Pace 242. 2. Niceville 156. 3. Choctaw 104.5. 4. Rutherford 97. 5. Arnold 95. 6. (tie) Rocky Bayou Christian & South Walton 87. 8. Wewahitchka 41. 9. Bay 32.5.
Championship matches —
106: Valerie Soloria (Arnold) p. Jay Brown (Wewahitchka), 4:34.
113: Max Brewster (South Walton) p. Lucas Biddle (Arnold), 2:43.
120: Ethan Pinto (Niceville) p. Tyler Gump (Niceville), 1:56.
126: Haze Esary (Pace) DQ over Colin Dutton (Rutherford).
132: Luke Latham (Rocky Bayou) md. Steven Banfield (Choctaw), 10-1.
138: Chris DeGrella (Niceville) p. Ryan Kurfirst (South Walton), 1:32.
145: Atticus Waters (Pace) p. Devonte Knox (Choctaw), 3:08.
152: David Luckey (Pace) d. Ty Hawkins (Niceville), 14-8.
160: Joseph Cortez (Pace) p. Martin Black (Niceville), 1:21.
170: Brody Andrews (Pace) p. Isaac Waters (Pace), 3:23.
182: Nick Adams (Pace) p. Chad Allgood (Rutherford), 3:11.
195: Wyatt Dillon (Pace) p. Tyler Lewis (Arnold), 3:37.
220: Xavier Stillgess (Rutherford) p. Tanner Lewis (Arnold), 1:09.
285: Kegan O’Shell (Pace) p. Robert Heller (Rutherford), 1:22.

Pace: It can be tough to pick one ace on a day with eight Patriot champs, but senior Nick Adams (182) was one that emerged. Adams was 4-0 to win Pool B, with three first-period falls (Rocky Bayou, Bay and South Walton), plus a 10-6 decision over third-place Niceville. Adams then pinned his Rutherford opponent in the second period of the final match for the Patriots’ sixth title of the day.
Niceville: Senior Chris DeGrella (138), a first-year starter for the Eagles, dominated the 138 bracket with five bonus-point wins. DeGrella was 4-0 in Pool A, with pins over Bay and South Walton, a 15-0 second-period tech over Wewahitchka, and a 19-9 major over Pace. DeGrella then falled his South Walton championship opponent in the first period for his title.
Choctaw: Senior Devonte Knox (145) was one of the Indians’ two finalists in the tournament. Knox was 3-0 in pool play, taking Pool C with pins over Arnold, Rocky Bayou and Niceville to get into the championship match. Knox lost to a former state qualifier in the first of two 1st-3rd pool matches, but rallied for a pin over the Pool B champ from Niceville to claim second.
Rutherford: Senior Xavier Stillgess (220) rolled up four pins on the day, all in the first period. Stillgess needed just 3:22 of mat time in winning his bracket, with falls over South Walton, Pace, Arnold and Choctaw in taking the title.
Arnold: Freshman Valorie Soloria (106) was the Pool B champ with three falls in 2:03 over two wrestlers from Wewa and a third from Pace. Soloria then pinned a third Gator wrestler in the final, with a fall in the third period.
Rocky Bayou: Junior Luke Latham (132) was the Knights’ lone champion on the day. Latham took down a 2020 South Walton state qualifier in Pool B, with pins over Rutherford and Pace afterward. In the title match, Latham won by major decision over Choctaw to secure his bracket.
South Walton: Junior Max Brewster (113) was the Seahawks’ lone champ, pinning his way through the weight class. Brewster was 3-0 with three first-period pins (Wewa, Pace and Rutherford) to take Pool B, then wrestled into the second period for his only time on the day to win the championship by fall over Arnold.
Wewahitchka: 8th grader Jay Brown (106) was 3-0 to win Pool A, with pins over a teammate and over Rutherford, plus an 8-0 major over South Walton, but then lost by fall in the finals. Brown was the Gators’ lone finalist on the day.
Bay: Junior Trenton Wood (145) dropped a one-point decision in his opening pool match, which sent him into the 4th-6th place pool, but then pinned his way through after that, with falls over Wewahitchka, and Arnold, plus a 13-8 win over South Walton to place fourth, one of two Tornadoes to earn that place finish.

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