GULF BREEZE — Last year, Pace became the first Panhandle team to appear in the FHSAA state duals tournament.
This year, the Patriots are in a position to be able to repeat the feat.
For the fourth straight season, Pace is the 2A-District 1 dual team champion after taking victories over Mosley (48-33) in the quarters, Gulf Breeze (40-34) in the semis and Niceville (50-21) in the district final.
As a result, the Patriots (7-0) will host 2A-Region 1 quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on January 13. While specifics are not available yet to Matmen, Pace will take on Chiles in one quarterfinal. Gulf Breeze (14-5), which came back through the consis to advance on as a true 2nd, will face District 2 champion Fleming Island — itself a five-time district champ — in the other quarterfinal. The two winners then meet in the semis for a berth in the 2A-Region 1 final on January 21 at Osceola HS in Kissimmee.
Pace’s strength up top, from 160 on up, was dynamite for the Patriots on Wednesday, and that was particularly true in the final, where the bigs contributed a 26-0 run to pull away from the Eagles. From 160 on up, the Patriots were 16-1 as a group.
Hazen Esary (132), Maeson Otwell (138), Aidan Bryan (220), Hale Wood (285) and Alexander Mendez (106) all had pins against Niceville, during which Pace put on a 38-0 flurry to put the dual away. Atticus Waters (160) added a 15-0 tech fall, and both Ty Morgan (10-6 at 170) and Isaac Waters (8-3 at 182) won by decisions.
For the day, six Patriots were unbeaten, five of them at 3-0. Otwell (138, 2 pins & major) and Atticus Waters (160, 2 pins & tech) both bonus-pointed through the tournament, with Morgan (170, 2 decisions), Bryan (195/220, 2 pins & decision) and Wood (220/285, 2 pins & decision) each going 3-0.
Brandon Mohring (195/220) was 2-0 in a regular role for Pace, while Mendez (106/113, 2 pins), Hazen Esary (132, 2 pins) and Isaac Waters (182, pin & decision) all were 2-1 for the Patriots.
Here’s how the rest of the district fared on Wednesday:
Gulf Breeze (14-5 for season, 2nd): The Dolphins opened their tournament account with a 69-12 quarterfinal win over Tate, but after giving Pace the best dual the Patriots got on Wednesday, Gulf Breeze had to rally for consi-side dual wins over Ft Walton Beach (48-27) and Niceville (54-23) to take true second.
Five Dolphin wrestlers were 4-0 on the day, led by Colson Elliott (132), who had pins in all four rounds of competition. Coby Shields (120, 3 pins) joined Elliott as a max-pointer, while Alec Poole (106, pin/major/decision), Garret Rudick (145, 3 pins & decision) and Blake Fluck (182, 2 pins, injury default & decision) all also won four times.
Michael Mancuso (126, 3 pins), Logan Merritt (138, 3 pins), Micah Barker (170, 2 pins & decision) and Isaac Land (195/220, pin) each posted 3-1 tournament records for Gulf Breeze.
The Dolphins are competing across the state this weekend, at Yulee’s Joe Bees Memorial Battle of the Border two-day IBT.
Niceville (11-7 for season, 3rd): The Eagles were 2-2 on the day, reaching the final behind a 59-18 quarterfinal victory over Choctaw and a 39-33 semifinal win over Ft Walton Beach, but couldn’t hold either of their final two opponents off.
Two Niceville wrestlers were 4-0 on the day, as Ethan Pinto (126, 3 pins) was a 4-0 max-pointer and Aiden Kyllonen (152, tech & 3 decisions) won all four of his contested matches.
Garrett Jarvis (120, 2 pins) and JJ Martinez (145, 2 pins & decision) were both 3-1 for the Eagles.
Niceville is the highest-finishing team from the district competing in this weekend’s Panhandle Championships, hosted by Mosley.
Ft Walton Beach (5-6 for season, 4th): The Vikings were 1-2 in the tournament, with a 69-12 quarterfinal win over Crestview before subsequent losses to Niceville in the semis and Gulf Breeze in the consi semis.
Four wrestlers were 3-0 in the tournament, led by Spencer Mackenzie (285), who pinned his way through all three rounds. Joining Mackenzie as max-pointers were Zak Vosburgh (113, 2 pins) and Cedric Fairrow (220, 2 pins), while Marquis Muniz (160) had two pins and a decision.
Landon Burbidge (106, pin), Alexander Davidson (152, pin & decision) and Carter Tobik (182/195, decision) all were 2-1 for Ft Walton Beach.
The Vikings are competing in the Scott Rohrer Memorial this weekend.
Mosley (2-3 for season, T-5th): The Dolphins gave the best fight among the four teams falling in the quarterfinal round, with six weight-class wins against Pace.
Valarie Solorio (106), Calvin Williams (120) and Eric Sapp (126) each won by fall against the Patriots, with Nick Hejke (152) winning by 15-0 tech fall and Derrick Williams (113) taking a 17-7 major.
Mosley is hosting the Panhandle Championships this weekend.
Choctaw (7-9 for season, T-5th): The Indians reached the quarterfinal behind a 60-15 victory over Milton in a pigtail round before falling to Niceville in the quarters.
Deagan Kilpatrick (113), Jesse Sarver (182/195, pin) and Caden McKinney (220, pin) were Choctaw’s lone double winners in the tournament.
Choctaw is also competing at Mosley for the Panhandle Championships this weekend.
Crestview (3-6 for season, T-5th): In their only dual of the day, the Bulldogs picked up just one contested win against Ft Walton Beach, as Gary Gessendoff (126) won by second-period fall. Crestview’s other points came by forfeit.
Crestview is off this weekend and will host Milton in a dual meet on Monday.
Tate (2-8 for season, T-5th): The Aggies got into the quarterfinals with a 54-6 pigtail win over Arnold before falling to Gulf Breeze.
Landon Hutto (160, 2 pins) and Landen George (220, pin) were Tate’s lone double winners in the tournament.
The Aggies are also at Mosley for the Panhandle Championships this weekend.
Milton (1-2 for season, T-9th): Both of the Panthers’ bonus-point wins in the dual with Choctaw came by forfeit; Milton’s lone contested win was contributed by Kyle Flores (285), who survived a wild match to take a 16-11 decision.
Milton, too, is trying its hand at Mosley’s Panhandle Championships this weekend.
Arnold (unknown record due to missing results, T-9th): Due to missing results, an individual recap was not possible with this writing. Like many of the other teams in the district, the Marlins are at Mosley for Panhandle this weekend.
Box scores from the tournament can be found HERE. (Some scrolling will be involved to get to them, but they’re there)
MISSING: If your team isn’t being written about as we move into the duals post-season and middle third of the regular season, it’s due to results gone missing. Go to our SCHEDULES page; if your team is listed as PENDING for a given event on a given day, I didn’t get results. I’ll still take them, at any time; coaches all have my work email.