By MATMEN, Monday, 10:20 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — The storybook ending sees the home team coming up with enough big wins to get the job done.
And, in an emotion-filled weekend that saw the Trojans retire the shoes of assistant coach Norman Norton, who passed away after a motorcycle accident in July, the ending turned out happily for the hosts of last weekend’s Capital City Invitational.
Behind three weight-class wins, Lincoln held off Wakulla’s challenge, with 289 points to the War Eagles’ 260.5, thanks to — in addition to the three champs — nine additional placewinners on the weekend.
The hidden MVP?: There might not have been any hidden choices here — all of Lincoln’s champs were top seeds — but senior Connor Edwards (6th at 2A-160) had no easy task in winning there.
With similarly ranked opponents (Fletcher’s Josh Daltro, 3A-6th at 160, and Florida High’s Dean Wright, 1A-7th at 170) coming out of the bottom half, neither would be an easy out.
After pinning his way into the final with falls over Bishop Kenny, Arnold and Florida High, it would be Daltro who would face Edwards in the final. And it was a busy match throughout, with both wrestlers scoring in the first period. In the end, though, Edwards’ strong second period — in which he had a pair of takedowns and a reversal — and scoring moves in each period led to an 11-7 win.
Hunting low & high: Lincoln also got titles at 113 from Vaniel Caceres (2A-7th at 113) and at 195 from Jakob Nowak (2A-7th at 195).
Caceres got a bye into the quarters, and then pinned his way to the title from there, with falls over Cairo (GA) and Arnold to reach the final, where he falled Middleburg freshman Bryan Davis in 34 seconds.
It was a little tougher of a go for Nowak up top, but he was able to pin his way into the final, with pins over Bishop Kenny, Fletcher and Wakulla, to reach Chiles senior Dillon Elliott (2A-15th at 195). After a scoreless first period, Nowak grabbed up takedowns in both the second and third to establish control, going on for a 5-1 decision.
Trio of titles for third: Middleburg grabbed up a team trophy in taking third place as a group, with 238 points, as Grady Woodard (120), Wyatt Leduc (132) and Tucker Cody (220) all went home victorious.
Woodard (2A-10th at 120) took pins over Fletcher and Arnold to reach the semis, where he powered past Bishop Kenny’s Jacob Harless (1A-19th at 120), then took down region and former district rival Sam Tolomeo (2A-19th at 120), 4-2, for the championship.
At 132, Leduc (2A-8th at 132) had a “grand slam” of victories in winning that weight class, with a TF (Fletcher), pin (Wakulla), major (16-5 over Chiles) en route to a 5-3 win over Fletcher’s Cole O’Brien (17th-3A at 132), in which he gave up first takedown but rallied with of his own in the second and third. Finally, Cody pinned his way to the semis with falls over Matanzas and Leon, then took decisions over Lincoln (10-5) in that round and over Wakulla’s Kohl Pippin (1A-11th at 220), 7-4, for the title. Cody’s turn 40 seconds into the second period for back points proved crucial in the win.
Leading the Noles’ charge: Florida High had a mid-pack finish — literally, as the Seminoles were eighth in the 17-team field — but titles from Jasper Croom at 106 and Xander Hawkes at 182 gave plenty of reason for good cheer.
Croom’s win at 106 held statewide ramifications. Ranked 3rd in 1A at 106, he pinned a Cairo wrestler in the quarters, then knocked off the third-ranked wrestler in 2A at 106, Matanzas’ Timothy McLean, by a 6-4 count in the top-half semi. In the championship, against second-ranked 1A-106 Connor Brown of Wakulla, Croom trailed three times during the match, but fought back each time, with five takedowns and a reversal en route to a 15-9 decision.
Hawkes (1A-6th at 182) dominated his bracket, never going past the first period all weekend with four max-point wins, including a pin over Lincoln and medical forfeit over Arnold on Friday. On Saturday, Hawkes had two pins in 2 minutes exactly, with a 41-second fall over Wakulla in the semis and a pin in 1:19 over Cairo’s Terrance Peoples for the title.
Solo dolo weight wins: Six additional area wrestlers led their teams with individual titles on Saturday.
At 126, third-seed Toryion Stallings (2A-16th at 126) bonus-pointed his way into the final, with pins over Bolles and South Walton’s Isaac Brinson (1A-10th at 126), plus a major over Middleburg. In the final against region rival Jashawn Washington (2A-10th at 126), Stallings broke open a tight match with a 5-point move with less than 30 seconds to go, finishing with a 7-3 decision.
Chiles senior Garrett Marschka (2A-4th at 132) pinned his way into the 138 final, with falls over South Walton, Columbia and Middleburg, but he had a battle on his hands in turning back Pace’s Maeson Otwell (2A-8th at 138). Marschka trailed through most of the first half of the match, but a 5-point move midway through the second gave enough cushion for a 9-8 decision.
Wakulla had plenty of depth for second in the team race, but senior Jae T Thaxton’s run at 145 was good enough for an individual title. Thaxton (1A-8th at 145) gave up just one scoring move all tournament long, with techs over Cairo, Fletcher and Lincoln’s Vincent Crump (2A-17th at 145); in the final, Thaxton pitched his third of four shutouts with a 7-0 win over Logan Moore (2A-15th at 145) of Middleburg to claim the title.
At 152, Bishop Kenny senior Roberto Cuartero (1A-2nd at 152) pinned his way through the tournament, with Friday pins over Middleburg and Fletcher; after a third fall in the semis over Wakulla, Cuartero completed the string of pins with a second-period fall over Matanzas’ Dylan Parkinson (2A-13th at 145). Cuartero had a pair of takedowns in the first period, then scored from bottom and had a 3-point turn before the second turn was completed in 3:21.
Pace’s Ty Morgan (2A-20th at 170) completed Friday with a pin over Arnold and tech over Chiles to reach Saturday, turning back a pair of ranked wrestlers in the semis and final. Morgan scored in each period and had a first-period turn in overcoming Bishop Kenny’s Luke Ghannam (1A-9th at 170), 11-9, in the semis, and secured a takedown in the final breaths of a wild 11-10 victory over Matanzas’ Landon Wright (2A-8th at 170) for the bracket win.
At 285, South Walton’s Nick Lee (1A-6th at 285) pinned his way through the draw, with Friday pins over Godby and Marianna, then falled Lincoln’s Ryder Luck (2A-13th at 285) in 1:10 in the semis on Saturday. In the final, against Wakulla’s Aaron Caquimbo, Lee had to go into the second period for the first time all tournament, overcoming being put to his back early to rally for a fall of his own in 2:37.
Results from the tournament can be found HERE.