KISSIMMEE — The last time Clay made it to the 1A state semifinals, the immovable object in their way at that time — Lake Highland Prep — has since, well, moved out of the FHSAA.
But the Blue Devils could face two more very solid challenges in this year’s version of the 1A state duals tournament on Saturday. They got a first one Friday, winning their first 1A-Region 1 duals title since 2018, rolling past Wakulla, 57-18, in the region final Friday at Osceola.
No 1A team in the north has won the Region 1 title except for the Blue Devils (now twice) and War Eagles (entered Friday as 3x defending duals champion).
But Saturday could mark the third time a northern 1A team makes it to the finals round (Wakulla did it twice, in 2019 and 2020). First, though, will be a solid Lemon Bay team that hammered Hudson, 73-6, in the Region 3 final. The winner of that semi will face either Region 2 champ Palm Bay, a finalist last year, or Region 4 champ Jensen Beach in the final. Clay’s only duals loss was a 44-31 defeat at the hands of the Barracudas at Jensen’s Battle of the Beach on December 3.
The first four weight classes were emblematic of the back-and-forth rivalry that Clay (13-1) and Wakulla (11-2) have had in the previous four seasons.
Josh Kumpf (138) opened the dual with a second-period fall for the Blue Devils (3:54), only to see Wakulla rally back with back-to-back pins from Hayden Reeves (145) and Jae T Thaxton (152) to give the War Eagles the lead.
It was a lead that would not last long, however, as Clay went on a 51-0 run that clinched the region title.
Luca Fiannaca (160) tied up the dual at 12 with his first-period fall, and Ethan Larsen’s 7-5 decision at 170 gave the Blue Devils a lead they would not relinquish. But that was just the warmup, as Clay dominated the uppers, with pins from Dominic Martin (182), Garrett Tyre (220) and Ethan Daniels (285), plus an 11-6 win at 195 from Kedtric Wilbon.
As the dual made the turn into the lower bookend, Jacob Bucci’s injury-default win at 106 wound up clinching the dual, as Clay was up 30, 42-12, with four weights left to go. But the Blue Devils weren’t done yet, with Rylan Herrera (120) and Maverick Rainwater (126) tacking on a pair of pins and Braden Glavin (113) finding a takedown in sudden victory for a 7-5 win.
Wakulla closed the dual out with its third pin of the day, from Isaiah Wilson at 132. The War Eagles will turn now to the IBT series and hosting duties next weekend at the MyHOUSE Big Bend Invitational, starting a week from today.
As for Clay, they’ll face a Lemon Bay side that has a high dose of momentum itself, ripping off 13 straight wins after spotting Hudson the first pin in a 73-6 victory and Region 3 finals win.
The Manta Rays got falls from Caleb Corridino (145), Austin Werden (152), Chase Alden (170), Lance Schyck (182), Marcus Lopez (195), Miguel Diaz (285), Jack Oliver (106), Hunter Barrettsmith (113), Logan Kelly (120), Brycen Warren (126) and Justin Brady (132), with Koen Hoffman chiming in with an 11-0 major at 160 and Ben Arnett pitching a 5-0 shutout at 220.
Hudson’s lone win came from a first-period fall from Giovanni Stramiello at 138.
Here’s a look at the other half of the 1A state bracket:
Palm Bay 48, Hernando 19: The Pirates pushed out to early leads of 18-3 and 30-6, clinching on Logan Delos Santos’ fall at 106 to defend their Region 2 title.
Avery Jackson (145), Nathan Furman (152), Zachary Emery-Foster (160), Octavion Osby (182), Caleo Carrera (195) and Ronald Theilacker (132) added pins for Palm Bay, which got decision wins from Carlos Gerardino (1-0 at 285) and Shaver Jackson (8-4 at 120).
Hernando opened the dual with decision wins from Diego Mojica (5-0 at 138) and Nate Greene (6-4 in sudden victory at 170), with Jayshawn Nantce (220) taking a 9-0 major. Jordyn Valle (113) secured the Leopards’ only fall post-clinch, with Cael Phillips (10-4 at 126) winning by decisioon.
Jensen Beach 36, Mater Lakes Academy 27: The Region 4 final had the most drama Friday, with the Barracudas closing out the dual with a 10-0 run behind a 13-1 major from Ryan Mooney (120) and decision wins from Johnny Dobbs (9-2 at 126) and Ryan Duguay (2-0 in sudden victory at 132).
Earlier, Jensen Beach got pins from Malachi Harriel (182) and Sebastian Degennaro (106), a 15-0 tech from Dylan Fox (152), and decisions from Jewell Williams (6-2 at 138), Duke Byfield (6-5 at 160) and Matt O’Hara (5-0 at 195).
Mater Lakes had max points in three of four weights between 220 and 113 to forge a one-point lead, 27-26, with three to go. Calogero Mazzrillo (170), Damian Soto (220) and Anthony O’Dell (113) had falls for the Bears, with Azakin Sejour (8-3) winning by decision. Ethan Vergara, at 285, won by forfeit for Mater Lakes.
Box scores for Friday’s competitions can be found HERE.
MISSING: We have a lot of missing results, from several teams around the coverage area, and we need YOUR help to clean that up. Please check out our SCHEDULE PAGE; if your school is listed as pending, or an event in which you took part is pending, see if your coach can send in your team’s part of that event. We will post results at any time of year, no matter how late they are when they are sent.