CRAWFORDVILLE — And then there were three.
Three, as in three teams in north Florida that have qualified for the first day of the FHSAA state duals tournament all four years it’s been held.
Wakulla is one of those three teams after dominating the scene Thursday night on their home mat, rolling past District 1 region rivals Rocky Bayou Christian (81-0) and South Walton (73-6), losing just one match in the process.
That sets up a Region 1 finals match against another four-time dual state participant in Clay. The Blue Devils won the first go-round in 2018, but the War Eagles are the two-time defending region champs and state duals runners-up after wins in 2019 and 2020.
Wakulla (24-2) roared through the first-time region-qualifying Knights (2-2) in the opening round. Jackson Merrick’s 12-5 win at 132 over one of RBCS’ top experienced competitors, a match that kicked off the dual, was the only weight class where full bonus couldn’t be taken, as the War Eagles would go on to get pins from Juan Jimenez (138), Wyatt Welch (145), Hayden Reeves (152), Cole Baggett (160), Daniel Brittain (170), Jackson Osteen (182), Tyler Edenfield (195), Jayven Hearns (285) and Julian Harvey (106), with forfeit victories at 220, 113, 120 and 126.
That brought up the Seahawks (4-1), which advanced with a team walkover into the semis.
Like the first dual, Wakulla opened with a decision, this time a 10-6 win for Jimenez, and built up a 21-0 lead on pins from Welch (145), Reeves (152) and Baggett (160). South Walton would draw blood at 170 with Chase Maddox’s first-period pin, but it was all War Eagles after that, who went on a 52-0 rampage to close out the night.
Osteen (182), Edenfield (195), Jack Mispel (220), Hearns (285) and Isaiah Wilson (126) all won by fall for Wakulla, which got forfeit victories at 106, 113 and 120. Merrick pitched a 12-0 shutout for a major at 132 to close out the night.
Results for both duals can be found HERE. Wakulla will not wrestle again until it reconvenes with Clay on January 22nd at Osceola HS in Kissimmee. South Walton also has a week away before it returns to the mats a bit closer to home, at district rival Bay’s 2nd annual George Mulligan Memorial. Rocky Bayou will go back on the mat next week, traveling to area rival Crestview for a single dual on Wednesday.