ORANGE PARK — The work of winning a sixth consecutive 3A-District 1 IBT championship was done by Fleming Island, largely, in Saturday’s semifinal round at Oakleaf.
The Golden Eagles put away the team race behind a 10-1 round that gave them plenty of cushion toward that sixth straight title.
But, while that round leading to Saturday’s win was the silver lining as Fleming Island advanced 11 wrestlers to Friday’s Region 1 tournament at Flagler Palm Coast, with three champions, seven runners-up and one 3rd, there was a cloud in coach PJ Cobbert’s generally-sunny description of his group, given the dominance the Golden Eagles have held on the district if not the entire coverage area itself for the previous five seasons at least.
“I’ve said it before; we got hit hard by Covid, everybody’s been hurt by it. Hurts what kind of practices you get in,” said Cobbert of his team, which was down three starters that would have had chances to add to Fleming’s title haul, two with injuries and one due to county tracing protocols.
“I don’t know that any of our guys didn’t do what they were supposed to do (Saturday), but we’ve got to get back to work.”
A medals round that didn’t match the success of the semis, however, allowed the final margin of victory to tighten considerably, as both Creekside and Oakleaf made inroads on Fleming’s large early lead. Still, by day’s end, the Golden Eagles held a solid 22.5-point lead over the runnerup St Johns Knights, with Oakleaf third at 154.
“Very pleased. Got 11 through, that’s the biggest thing. Anything can happen (next week). You can see fourth-place guys at district go in and win regionals,” Creekside coach Rick Marabell said.
“When we lost in the finals at 52, that was tough (on the Knights’ chances to stay in 2nd), but winning at 170, winning at 182 was a huge win, and (the) win at 220 was icing on the cake.”
Creekside matched Fleming Island’s number of champions, with three, and added two runners-up, four 3rds and two 4ths.
Host Oakleaf was in contention with their St Johns nickname sharers for second, but couldn’t overcome the Creekside late rush, despite the Clay County Knights also securing three titles, with two runners-up, four thirds and one fourth to move through 10 wrestlers to regions with 154 points in third.
Mandarin had the best performance of its truncated-by-Covid season (just one dual in December), taking fourth place with 120 points. The Mustangs got 10 wrestlers through to regions, with one champion, three runners-up and six 4ths.
A badly short-handed Bartram Trail side pushed past county rival Nease, 77-51, for fifth. The Bears had five region qualifiers, with two champs, two thirds and one fourth.
Nease, for its part, had one champion, one third and three fourths for its five region qualifiers.
Sandalwood outpointed Atlantic Coast, 31-24, for seventh. The Saints and Stingrays each had two region qualifiers, with Sandalwood taking one champon and one 3rd; Atlantic Coast finished with one third and one fourth.
Brackets from Saturday’s wrestling can be found HERE.
Fleming Island: Joseph Forte (106-2nd); Hunter Herrington (113-1st); Riley Holton (126-2nd); Xavier Logan (132-2nd); Garrett Cole (138-2nd); Matthew Kotler (145-3rd); David Parkes (160-1st); Joshua Sandoval (170-2nd); Hunter Williams (195-1st); Grant Travis (220-2nd); Ethan Hoffstetter (285-2nd).
Creekside: Andrew Feeks (106-3rd); Conner Wright (113-3rd); Hunter England (120-2nd); Cathan Simpson (132-3rd); Keanan Sexton (138-3rd); Lee Leavell (145-4th); Diego Rivera (152-2nd); Michael Little (160-4th); Hunter Brown (170-1st); Bryan Fortay (182-1st); Vincent Approbato (220-1st).
Oakleaf: Kevin Gilley (120-1st); Marcus McGee (126-3rd); Logan Gilbert (132-4th); Trevor Owens (138-1st); Roman Polinsky (152-1st); James McClintic (160-2nd); Braden Cole (182-3rd); Isaiah Shevchook (195-2nd); Ben Gaddis (220-3rd); Jordan Mitchell (285-3rd).
Mandarin: Logan Emanuel (106-4th); Nathan Bremer (113-2nd); Da’mon Teague (120-4th); Ethan Harvey (126-4th); Jameel Smith (132-1st); Ashton White (145-2nd); Xaine Evans (152-4th); Tony Carter (182-2nd); Jaelen Simmons (195-4th); Andres Rodriguez (285-4th).
Bartram Trail: Ethan Vugman (106-1st); Travis Tagarelli (113-4th); John McNames (160-3rd); Aydan Nguyen (170-3rd); Ryan Piersza (285-1st).
Nease: Mateos Zajni (138-4th); Anthony Tanza (145-1st); Peter Simon (170-4th); Danil Avetisov (182-4th); Kobe Ross (195-3rd).
Sandalwood: Alexei Mutoh (120-3rd); Dante Rigal (126-1st).
Atlantic Coast: Joel Dudley (152-3rd); Hayden Brudehl (220-4th).
THE DISTRICT CHAMPS
106: Sophomore Vugman (106) won his second district title; after a bye into the semis, Vugman falled fourth-place Emanuel (:43) and then shut out Forte, 7-0, in the final.
113: Herrington (20-3), a senior, took his third district championship (won in 2019 and again last year), with falls in the semis over fourth-place Tagarelli (:44) and over Bremer (3:01) in the title round.
120: Senior Gilley (22-3) qualified for regions for the second time (4th last year), winning his first district title with three pins over third-place Mutoh (3:40, quarters), fourth-place Teague (1:55, semis) and England (2:36) in the championship match.
126: Rigal (10-0), a senior, won his first Florida post-season championship behind a semifinal pin (:44) over third-place McGee and a 5-1 decision over Holton in the final.
132: Junior Smith (19-1) won his first district title; after a bye into the semis, he took a 16-3 major over fourth-place Gilbert, then held off Logan for a 6-4 win in the title round.
138: Owens (35-13), a senior, qualified for regions for the second time (2nd last year) and won his first district championship with a 59-second fall over fourth-place Zajni in the semis and finding a late takedown for an 8-6 win over Cole in the championship match.
145: Senior Tanza (20-5) qualified for regions for the first time, and won his first title with preliminary decisions over Bartram Trail’s Preston Pena (7-1, quarters) and third-place Kotler (9-7, semis) before pinning White in 2:28 in the final.
152: Polinsky (17-14), a sophomore, also made his first region appearance as a district champ; after a semifinal bye, Polinsky won by fall over third-place Dudley (2:30), and then was able to push past Rivera with a 6-4 decision in the title round.
160: Senior Parkes (21-4) reached a district final for the third time (runnerup in 2019 and 2020), winning his first title behind two pins in 1:57, including falls over Mandarin’s Adrian Rodriguez (1:02, semis) and over former Oakleaf teammate McClintic (:55) in the championship match.
170: Brown (27-6), a senior, got to regions for the third time (third in 2A in 2019, third last year), with his first district championship coming on bonus-point wins over third-place Nguyen (fall in 5:54, semis) and behind a 12-4 major over Sandoval in the final.
182: Senior Fortay (19-4) qualified out for the second time (3rd last year), with his first district title fueled by a 32-second semifinal pin over third-place Cole and a 6-4 win fueled on a third-period takedown over Carter in the title round.
195: Williams (23-3), a junior, won his first district championship behind a 47-second semifinal pin over fourth-place Simmons, followed by a 7-2 win in the championship match over Shevchook.
220: Junior Approbato (31-3) qualified out for regions for the first time and won his first title behind a first-period fall (1:16) over Gaddis in the semis, and came back with a 10-5 decision over Travis in the final.
285: Piersza (27-4), a senior, qualified for regions for the third time (3rd in 2A in 2019, 4th last year), winning his first district championship with a semifinal pin over third-place Mithcell (2:59). In the final, Piersza scored first with an escape over Hoffstetter, and that first point was key, as it gave Piersza choice in the ultimate tiebreaker, and he was able to escape again for a 3-2 win in the title match.