By MATMEN, Monday, 4:40 p.m.
GAINESVILLE — For all but one of the 10 teams in Saturday’s Bobcat Roundrobin at Buchholz, the one-day mixed-format event served as the kickoff to the 2022-23 season.
All 10 teams in the field were local; only Terry Parker, which had duals on Wednesday, had competed prior to the weekend.
No team scores were kept in the event. Below follows a summary of events.
Double trouble: We’ve seens some successes from two of Timber Creek’s champions in Marlo Clark (120 champ behind 4 pins and a 10-6 win over Clay’s Drew Holmquist in the final, defending district champion) and returning 2022 state qualifier Peter Nesheiwat (3A-9th at 285, weight-class champ behind 4 max-point wins, including a 48-second finals pin over Oakleaf’s Tony Gray, plus a 5-1 decision early in Pool B).
But the back-to-back wins from junior Andrew Wittenberg at 152 and freshman Micah Wittenberg at 160 will turn some heads. At 152, Andrew Wittenberg — a part-time varsity performer last year — had pins over Forest and Terry Parker to win Pool A, then pinned two Wolfpack teammates to win the bracket, falling Juan Viera-Paulos in 2 minutes for 1st.
Then, at 160, Micah Wittenberg made a first case for a state ranking, after winning Pool A with a forfeit and fall, running through the crossover bracket behind two pins and a second-period tech over Oakleaf’s Roman Polinsky (2A-13th at 160), to take that title.
Experience counts: Buchholz’s four-pack of veteran talent carried the day for the Bobcats, with seniors Max Szabo (170) and Kason Nichols (195), along with juniors Jedidiah Brown (126) and CJ Liddie (138), all winning championship gold.
Szabo (3A-14th at 160) pinned his way to a Pool C win at 170, then took a pair of decisions in the crossover, with a 4-1 win over Belleview’s Cornelius Bentley-Greene, while Nichols (3A-6th at 182) had four pins and a third-period tech, falling Oakleaf’s Isaiah Shevchook (2A-10th at 195) in 2:52 for his win.
As for the juniors, Brown (3A-15th at 126) had two pins for a Pool B win, then added a third pin over Forest before edging Oakleaf’s Sebastian Bonochea, 3-2, for the 126 title. Liddie (3A-2nd at 132) pinned or teched through the 138 bracket, with three techs and two pins for a Pool A and weight-class win, where he teched Timber Creek’s Ozy Aquino (18-3) in 2:12 in the final.
Don’t count out just yet: Clay walked away with three titles Saturday, as Jacob Bucci (106), Dominic Martin (182) and Kedtric Wilbourn (220) all were victorious.
Bucci (2A-7th at 113) pinned or teched his way through the 106 bracket, with three pins and two techs, falling Oakleaf’s Connor Barnes in 1:13 in round 5 to clinch the weight class, while Martin (2A-3rd at 182) was 5-0 with five first-period pins and a combined mat time of 4:53, pinning Oakleaf’s Bryant Taylor in 1:11.
As for the 220 weight class, Wilbourn (2A-3rd at 220) had an all-Clay final to go through to claim his win, majoring teammate Jadon Bell (2A-13th at 195), 9-1, in the title match. Bell had three bonus-point wins in claiming Pool A, while Wilbourn grabbed four pins — only one going past the first period — to win Pool B.
On the doorstep: Oakleaf had no titles on Saturday, but the Knights still had plenty to celebrate about on the way home.
The Oakleaf group picked up nine top-4 medals in the tournament, six of those via finals appearances, as noted above in this recap.
Of those six wrestlers, only Polinsky was a regular in last year’s lineup after December of last year, and only Polinsky and Shevchook have been multi-year starters, indicating the successes the Knights have been having in developing a room, especially over the past two seasons.
On the rise?: Picking up solo titles were a pair of seniors in Belleview’s Caleb Mullinix (2A-14th at 113) and Union County’s Ian Halfacre (132), as well as junior Jeff Brown of Terry Parker at 145.
Mullinix pinned his way through Pool C and the crossover bracket as well, with five pins in all, only going past the first period in his first match of the day. Mullinix had pins over Terry Parker, Union County, Clay and Ponte Vedra before falling Timber Creek’s Diego Weiser, the Pool A champ in 1:15 for first.
Halfacre pinned his way through the Pool A portion of 132, with pins over West Port, Forest and Buchholz, then added a fourth fall in 1:39 for the championship, this time over Timber Creek’s Pool B champ, Logan Crawford, in 1:39.
Brown pinned wrestlers from Belleview and Ponte Vedra, plus a win by forfeit to take Pool A; in the crossover, he added a third bonus-point win with a major over Oakleaf, winning the championship with a 7-1 decision over Clay’s Landen Solomon.
Results from the tournament can be found HERE.
Rankings courtesy of Matmen-endorsed Kabra Wrestling, https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings/class-3A