HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — Columbia hasn’t usually been a team that does much out-of-state travel, unless it’s for short hops over the Florida line to places like Valdosta.
But, this year, the Tigers not only crossed state lines once but twice to compete in the two-day Coastal Clash IBT in South Carolina.
And, for seniors Joseph Rice (170) and Jaycob Jones (285), the northern invasion was a successful one, as Rice and Jones took home 4-0 weekends and bracket victories in the 22-team event.
Columbia was the only north Florida team in the field, placing 11th out of 22 teams with 117 points. Two other Florida teams, Space Coast (6th at 145.5) and Villages (9th at 134) joined the Tigers. A familiar foe, Brunswick (GA), came away with the team title and 225.5 points, outpointing four South Carolina teams for the top team finish.
Rice was seeded fifth and set about the business of proving that wrong, opening with a round-of-16 tech fall over Space Coast. He followed that up with wins over two South Carolina wrestlers, pinning Cross in the quarters and then decisioning top-seeded Gabe Juarez of May River in the semi. That set up a finals matchup with Grovetown (GA)’s Nate Rodgers in the final. Rodgers was a 6A state placer (T-5th) at 160 a year ago, but Rice was able to secure the fall for Columbia’s first title win.
Jones would pick up the second at 285 as the tournament’s #4 seed. He opened in the round of 16 with a fall over Villages’ Clayton Mills, then taking pins in the quarters and semis over Georgia and South Carolina wrestlers, respectively, including over top seed Triston Williams of Aiken (SC), to get to the final. There, Jones concluded a weekend of pins with a fall over Brunswick’s River Creel to add the team’s second bracket of the weekend.
The Tigers had a third finalist on the day, as Shawn Raggins (195) also got to the championship round. Also the 5 seed at his weight, Raggins pinned two Floridians to get there, with pins over Space Coast’s Jaydon Sheely (rd of 16) and Villages’ Nicholas Caudill (semis), with a quarterfinal pin over South Carolina. But Grovetown’s Anthony Maldonado, a 6A state qualifier at 182 last year, was too much, as Raggins lost by fall in the final.
Jayden Drew (5th at 182) rounded out Columbia’s list of placers.
The Tigers are now off until Thursday, when they’ll go to Union County for a tri-county tri-meet along with Baker County.
Place finishers in each weight class and all Columbia results can be viewed HERE.