#FridayKnight: Oakleaf Makes Most Of Second Opportunity

ORANGE PARK — Who said there’s no second chance to make a first impression?

Friday night, while hosting the Friday Knight Lights, Oakleaf got a second chance to make a first impression not only on Fletcher, which had knocked off the Clay County Knights just six days earlier in the final round of the North Florida Duals at Bishop Snyder, but the rest of a 10-team field.

Oakleaf’s Roman Polinsky (top) works to secure his fifth fall of the night in the Friday Knight Lights championship dual between the Knights and Fletcher. Polinsky got the fall and Oakleaf the victory in the Oakleaf gym (Photo by Shannon Heaton).

And the Knights shone as they had on Wednesday at Orange Park’s 5-Way Duals, going undefeated for the week and 12-1 in duals for the season with five dual victories and a title win.

Oakleaf had Pool B victories over Orange Park (69-5), West Nassau (63-18), Nease (60-13) and Oakleaf B (68-6) to get their rematch with the Senators. This time, it was Oakleaf who pushed the pace, with leads of 15-0 and 27-6 before winning five of the last six weight classes for a 56-23 win.

“Everyone was fighting as a team,” Oakleaf coach Rory Roderick said of the difference between a week ago and Friday night.

“We had a concerted energy. We had a connection this week. Everybody needed to come together, and all the small things we did added up. Had wrestlers that got pinned last time that wound up pinning their guy. Now we’ll just get right back to work.”

All 13 Oakleaf starters on the varsity lineup won at least three matches Friday night, with seven unbeatens.

Leading the way with five pins in five chances was Roman Polinsky (160), one of three Oakleaf max-pointers on the night. In that, Polinsky was joined by Isaiah Shevchook (195, 3 pins) and Ben Gaddis (220, 3 pins). Ion Hortinela (113, 2 pins, tech & decision), Marcus McGee (138, 3 pins & 2 techs) and Onjel Caraballo (182, pin & 3 decisions) also all were 5-0, while Jordan Mitchell (285, 2 pins) was 3-0 in a regular role for the Knights.

Lincoln Morales (120, 2 pins), Markos Barfield (126, 2 pins & decision), Keon Barrientos (132, 2 pins), Preston Lewis (145, 3 pins & decision) and Mason Ganion (170, 3 pins & decision) all were 4-1 on the night, with Jacob McClintic (152, pin & decision) putting in a 3-2 tournament effort.

Oakleaf is done with duals for 2021, the calendar part of it leastways. The Knights will host the two-day Hammer Invitational, a two-day IBT, on December 20-21 as their next event.

Here is a look at the rest of the tournament field:

Fletcher (11-2 for season, 4-1 in event): The Senators won Pool A with victories over Creekside (41-36), Mainland (52-28), Westside (64-18) and Sandalwood (54-12) before the rematch dual with Oakleaf in the final.

Fletcher had had two wrestlers go 5-0, as Toby Matson (285) joined Polinsky as one of the tournament’s four 5-0, five-pin performers. Cole O’Brien (126/132, 4 pins & tech) also bonus-pointed through the night, with Logan Locantora (106, pin), Jimi Baur (113, 4 pins) and Ryan Klein (182/195, 3 pins) all going 4-1. In regular roles, Elias Twigg (120, pin) and Christopher Strong (152, 3 pins) were each 3-0, while Josh Daltro (160, pin & major) was 3-2.

The Senators will next be at the two-day Yulee Duals on December 17-18.

Creekside (11-1 for season, 4-1 in event): The St Johns Knights opened the tournament with their first loss of the season, but then didn’t lose again, with Pool A victories over Sandalwood (75-6), Mainland (57-12), Westside (53-18), plus a 64-12 win over Nease for third place.

Five Creekside wrestlers were 5-0 on the night, led by Andrew Feeks (106/113) and his five-pin effort. Colton Leavell (145/152, 4 pins) and Vincent Approbato (220, 3 pins) were max-pointers, with Lee Leavell (152/160, 4 pins & decision) and Nathan Manning (170, 3 pins, major & decision) also both going 5-0. Enrique Gonzalez (120, pin & decision) and Eddie Craig (182, 3 pins) each were 4-1 for the Knights, with Xavier Grimm (152/160, 2 pins) going 3-1 and Justin Umali (126, 2 pins & decision), Chihaya Cook (132, pin & decision) and Oraldo Visha (195, 2 pins & major) each turning in 3-2 efforts.

Creekside is now off until Wednesday, when the Knights host Clay.

Nease (4-2 for season, 3-2 in event): The St Johns Panthers were second in Pool B, with wins over Oakleaf B (53-21), Orange Park (60-21) and West Nassau (48-36) in their first tournament of the season.

Parker Stamschror (132, 2 pins & decision) was Nease’s lone 5-0 wrestler, but not lone unbeaten, as Jaiden Zajni (106, pin) was 3-0 in a regular role at the low end of the lineup. Mateos Zajni (138, 4 pins) and Jacob Lutz (152, pin & major) each were 4-1 for the Panthers, who sent out 18 different kids as befits a first-tournament roster.

Nease won’t have much rest time, as the Panthers will be back on the mats in just a few hours for Fernandina Beach’s Dual in the Dunes today.

Mainland (5-5 for season, 3-2 in event): The Buccaneers traveled from furthest away, taking third in Pool A with wins over Westside (37-36 in criteria), Sandalwood (51-24) and Oakleaf B (35-28) in the fifth-place crossover after opening the night 0-2.

Brian Harris (132/138, 2 pins, major & decision) led the Mainland charge with a 5-0 night. Kaden Golder (132/138, 2 pins & decision), Isaiah White (145, pin & decision) and Alex Shallop (285, 2 pins & decision) were each 4-1 for Mainland, with Sam Ayodele (152, 2 pins) chipping in a 3-2 performance.

Mainland is now off until Wednesday, with a bit shorter trip in hand, going to Deltona.

Oakleaf B: The second group of Clay County Knights were third in Pool B, with wins over West Nassau (39-30) and Orange Park (39-27).

Four different Oakleaf Bs were 4-1 on the night. Angel Rodriguez (113, 2 pins & tech), Elijah Shevchook (160, 2 pins & 2 decisions), Tyler Jackson (195/220, 3 pins) and Kyland Armstrong (285, decision) each picked up four victories.

Westside (3-3 for season, 2-3 in event): The Wolverines engaged in their first tournament of the season, with a Pool B win over Sandalwood (51-18). Although some of the specifics of the scoresheet were unclear, the Wolverines were marked as 42-30 winners in the 7th-place match over Orange Park.

Ja’Cory Martin (195/220) rounded out the group of four 5-pin performers with his evening for Westside. Jacare Johnson (126, 2 pins & tech) and Olleon Hickmon (138, 3 pins & decision) each were 4-1, with Preston Davis (160/170, pin) and Caleb Baltazar (195/220, pin) each turning in 3-2 nights.

Westside will next compete in Columbia’s Tiger Duals on December 18.

Orange Park (3-9 for season, 1-4 in event): The Raiders opened the night with their lone victory, going into criteria before taking a 43-42 win over West Nassau.

Among the starters that appeared in each dual, Andrea Smith (220/285) had the best night, going 4-1 with two pins, while Braden Owenby (132, pin) and Geoffrey Jules-Delice (220/285, 2 pins) both were 3-2 on the night. In regular roles, Trevion Sermons (170, pin, tech & decision) was 3-0 in the first three rounds, while Tyson Cruz (182/195, pin & decision) was 3-1.

Orange Park is now off until Tuesday, when the Raiders travel to Clay.

West Nassau (1-4 for season & event): The Warriors competed in their first Florida tournament, having been in Charlton County (GA)’s Black Water callout event on December 4. While winless in Pool B, West Nassau did take a 39-30 win over Sandalwood for ninth.

Despite the lack of team success, six of the Warriors’ 10 wrestlers (nine regulars) won at least three matches, with Blayden Tharpe (120, 3 pins) and Aiden Melson (145, 4 pins) both max-pointers at 5-0. Eddie Rivenburg (106, pin) and Landon Higginbotham (126, 2 pins & decision) were each 4-1, with Jackson Holcomb (113, 2 pins) and Nolan McKelvy (160, 2 pins) both turning in 3-2 nights.

Due to the lack of a schedule at this writing, West Nassau’s next event was not known.

Sandalwood (0-5 for season & event): After a snafu resulted in a cancelled hosting opportunity the previous weekend, the Saints were able to kick off the season, albeit without any team victories.

Individually, Malik Wilson (170, 3 pins & decision) was Sandalwood’s top performer, going 4-1, while Ben Peterson (138, 3 pins) was 3-2.

RESULTS: Results for all 24 duals contested Friday night can be found HERE.

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