By MATMEN, Friday, 8:50 p.m.
An ambitious schedule for the top-ranked Matanzas girls’ team kicked off Friday afternoon in nearby Orange City, as the Lady Pirates were set to defend that preseason ranking at Lady Clash of the Titans, hosted by University (Orange City).
Consider the kickoff a successful debut to 2022-23, as Matanzas won four individual weight-class titles and cruised to an 81.5-point gap ahead of the rest of a 25-team field, rolling up 204.5 points as a team. South Dade held off Middleburg, 123-119, for second place, while Oakleaf held fifth with 96 (Osceola was 4th, with 101).
The tournament was the first sizable girls’ event of the 2022-23 season in Florida, with most teams coming from the coverage area.
A summary of quick hits from the tournament follows:
Double trouble: In their first competition as Lady Pirates, Matanzas senior Brielle (1st at 130) and Kendall Bibla (4th at 140) dropped the hammer on their respective fields without too much issue.
Brielle had one-sided wins over two ranked wrestlers en route to her 130 title, with a second-period fall over eventual 3rd Grisbet Guzman of South Lake (8th at 135), then teched 3rd-ranked (at 125) Kelliana Mack of Osceola early in the third period, 17-1 in 4:12.
Kendall pinned her way through the 140 draw, needing just 4:12 to fall three opponents, including two ranked wins in the quarters over Oak Ridge’s Jade Camacho (18th at 135) and a 45-second championship pin over 13th-ranked (140) Ta’jah Broadnex of South Dade.
The hidden MVP?: With four champs on the day, also including sophomore and 2022 state 3rd Mariah Mills’ win at 110, the gem performance of the Lady Pirates’ day might have gone to sophomore Christina Borgmann at 120.
After placing but not winning at both districts and regions last year, Borgmann made state podium (8th in March), and followed that with three pins in her debut Friday, all in the first period (combined fall time of 2:55).
Ranked 7th at 120 this year, Borgmann had falls over opponents from Osceola, eventual 3rd Grace Lashinsky of DeLand, and then pinned 14th-ranked Isabella Garcia of Florida Christian in 36 seconds to claim her bracket.
Shock wave: While Matanzas did largely set the pace, not everything went according to plan in the Lady Pirates’ day.
In the 125 quarterfinals, Oakleaf freshman Kailani Barrientos — in a victory that defied expectations but not the state rankings necessarily (she’s ranked 1st at 120) knocked off defending state champion and the state’s top-ranked 125, Matanzas’ Tiana Fries, by a 4-0 count.
Barrientos got a takedown eight seconds into the match, then rode Fries for the rest of that period and all of the second before adding an insurance takedown midway through the third. She then had first-period falls over Lake Brantley’s Ella Bell and Deltona’s Raegan Hatch to claim the title, while Fries tore through the consis, with four pins in 2:11 to take third.
That’s not all, folks: Barrientos wasn’t the only freshman to do some shocking Friday, as Hagerty’s Shyann Tate (155) and Oakleaf’s Jayla Harrison (170) both went home with titles in their first competitions as high schoolers.
Tate, sister of highly-regarded Hunter Tate on the Huskies’ boys’ side, opened with a second-period fall over 17th-ranked Trinya Tillman of Mainland in the quarters; after a second fall in the semis, Tate ran the table with a third fall, coming from behind to knock off Mainland’s Jah’Mya Hill (4th at 145) with a 2-minute pin in the final.
Harrison’s title was predicted by the rankings — she’s 2nd at 170 — but she only got two chances to prove that ranking, falling 15th-ranked Anastasia White of Okeechobee in the semis, then pinning Lake Mary’s Tayla Sutton in 25 seconds in the title round. In all, Harrison needed just 1:30 of mat time.
Clay (County) today: Both Middleburg and Oakleaf laid claim to a distinction that the teams above them could not, as all of both teams’ wrestlers went home with place finishes.
In claiming third, Middleburg was pushed by the bookend powers of senior Gracie Bradshaw (ranked 3rd at 100) and sophomore Cheyenne Cruce (1st at 190), both of whom won titles. With two additional finalists and a 4th, all five Lady Broncos went home with medals.
Oakleaf was powered by the Barrientos and Harrison wins noted above, and none of the four Lady Knights finished lower than third, with an additional runnerup and third in the team hoard.
Solo dolo: Speaking of Clay County, Clay senior Aubrianna Apple — her team’s lone competitor Friday — made it 10-for-10 in medals for county wrestlers, and added a fifth title for the county with her title at 135.
Like most of the champions Friday, Apple (ranked 3rd at 130) pinned her way through the bracket, with four falls in all, all in the first period.
And, in the process, Apple denied the hosts their best shot at a weight-class win, falling University-OC senior Bryanne Kaminsky (5th at 135) in 1:56 in the final round.
Power up top: Mainland 235s tried without success to chase down now-graduated two-time state champ Andrea Smith last year; this year, three Lady Pirates finished in the top six of a quite-full 235 bracket, paced by junior champ Cheyenne Wigley.
Wigley (ranked 6th at 190) had three first-period pins, including in the final, but it was the takedown nine seconds into sudden victory in the semis against South Dade that meant the most along the way, as she needed just 39 seconds to fall Oak Ridge’s Judlie Laplante in the title round.
After a round-of-16 fall to Laplante, Lady Pirate teammate Katherine Meza-Perez (6th at 235) had to fight her way through the consis to eventually place 4th, with two pins and an 11-4 win over teammate Summer Snow in the blood round. Snow reached the semis behind two early pins.
All rankings are from the sole Matmen-endorsed Florida statewide rankings list found at kabrawrestling.com/rankings/girls
Results from the tournament can be found HERE.