By MATMEN, Monday, 2:15 p.m.
ORANGE CITY — Consider the Clash of the Titans tournament Saturday to be the first salvo in what should appear to be a series of shots fired for 3A-Region 1 leadership.
This time around, it was DeLand that made its initial case. The Bulldogs were able to push their way into the top-5 in the 18-team IBT with 114.5 points, tops among Matmen-area teams, and had one of three area individual titles.
DeLand senior Grady Bryant (3A-13th at 126) picked up DeLand’s title on the afternoon and was the team’s lone finalist (the Bulldogs had five additional third- or fourth-place finishers).
Bryant rolled into the 126 semis behind a round-of-16 tech and 44-second quarterfinal pin, then picked up a 9-6 win over Satellite in the semis and — in one of two all-area finals — pushed past Middleburg’s Dylan Johns with an 11-4 win that might have sealed the deal on a top-five finish.
The hidden MVP?: Another key performance for the Bulldogs might have been the third-place effort of first-year starter Tyler Bracero at 113.
After losing to the eventual champion, Freedom’s Nathan Fisher, by a 9-2 count in the quarters, Bracero then pitched a 10-0 shutout in the blood round over Winter Springs to earn a medal in his first tournament.
Then, against an experienced Merritt Island competitor, Bracero was able to work his way to a fall for third. Claiming those two bonus-point wins after opening his career with a loss was massive for the DeLand hopes.
Shots fired, individual: One of the top finals of the day came in the 170 final, where Winter Springs’ Elijah Penton (2A-3rd at 170) and Hagerty’s Kamdon Harrison (3A-2nd at 160) collided in a matchup of resumes that would have the feel of a late-Saturday afternoon/Saturday night match at Silver Spurs.
Penton held the upper hand throughout before collecting the fall in 5:09, with four scoring moves to build a 9-4 lead prior to the pin.
Harrison was one of three Hagerty wrestlers to reach the Clash finals, along with Nikolas Blake (132) and Gavin Nelson (152); the Huskies picked up three additional placers en route to the sixth-place team finish.
Let’s ride: Middleburg was right there in the mix for fifth along with the Huskies, coming up just short of DeLand, 2.5 points back of the Bulldogs and only a half-point behind Hagerty.
The Broncos picked up four finals appearances on the day, with Johns’ runnerup effort at 126 and Logan Moore (2A-16th at 138)’s 12-9 decision loss at 145. Aden Thornton (160) and Tucker Cody (220) also reached their weight class’s finals.
Johns’ run to the final was particularly impressive, in which he outscored his first two opponents by a 35-3 score, then followed up with a fall over Lake Mary in the semis.
New Cuda leader: New Smyrna Beach senior Dylon York (2A-3rd at 195) got to follow in the wake of some pretty talented senior leadership of the past couple of seasons in the ‘Cudas room.
And York, in his first chance to lead the Barracudas on the mat under the tutelage of a new head coach, did not disappoint at all, with a max-point tournament and three pins en route to the 195 title.
York had pins over Lake Brantley and Middleburg prior to the final, where he falled a conference rival in Flagler Palm Coast’s Dalton Schell (3A-13th at 220) in 5:47 for the championship. Schell had had a pretty solid tournament going into his bid to be his team’s lone champion as well, with wins over two ranked wrestlers prior to York in the final.
Big man, big finish: Deltona senior Nathan Hatch (2A-11th at 285) was the brightest light for the Wolves in their ninth-place team finish on Saturday.
Hatch never had to go past the first period in taking the 285 title, grabbing up three pins in 4:09.
On the day, Hatch falled wrestlers from the host Titans (quarters), Freedom (semis) and over Merritt Island’s Nathan Greenfield (1:24) in the championship match.
Coastal Clash: Orange City is certainly central Florida territory, but with Merritt Island and Satellite — programs not even a half-hour apart — there was definitely a Space Coast flavor to Saturday’s event.
The teams combined for five titles in outscoring potential pre-tournament favorite Winter Springs, with Merritt Island bagging up titles at 106, 145 and 220, while Satellite’s superstar seniors at 120 and 182 both won their weight classes.
The teams also had three runners-up as a combined group.
Results from the tournament can be found HERE.
Rankings courtesy of Matmen-endorsed Kabra Wrestling, https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings/class-3A