By MATMEN, Thursday, 5:50 p.m.
YULEE — Returning to the standard set by an earlier age is a difficult legacy for any wrestling program trying to find the hard path back to success.
For Suwannee, it’s meant a lot of scrapping. Several coaches, bringing the group closer and closer to the standard, over several years.
It still hasn’t fully happened yet. But the north got to see the progress made by this group of Bulldogs, who powered to the Yulee Duals title last weekend after eight double-digit dual victories and a 37.8-point average margin of victory in each.
For the Bulldogs, it was their second duals title of the season, coupled with the previous weekend’s win at Manatee’s Kelly Duals in Bradenton.
“Kids quit crying, quit griping. We’ve got them on the right path, they’ve bought into the system. They hit the stuff they should be hitting, just with hardnosed attitude. Like they had in the 90s, like we had in the 80s. That’s all we brought back; they’ve got to see this kind of competition (to succeed),” Suwannee coach John Wainwright said.
A summary of the tournament follows:
Suwannee (8-0 tournament, 14-1 season) —
Wins: Mandarin (67-9), Heritage (55-18), University Christian/Bolles (75-0), Ed White (66-18), South Effingham (43-27), Camden County (48-27), Steinbrenner (49-28) & Glynn Academy (43-21).
MVP: Austin McKinney (7th at 1A-152). On a team in a tournament with six unbeatens, there was plenty of value to be had, but McKinney’s five-pin effort and three wins against some pretty strong Georgia teams (pin over Camden, 10-0 major over a multiple-time GA state qualifier from South Effingham, and key 8-6 decision over Glynn Academy) stood out.
Hidden in the box scores: Eli Jolicoeur forged a path to the top ranking in 1A-106 with his 8-0 tournament, including an 8-7 win over Heritage’s Solomon Peterson (5th-2A), fall over Steinbrenner and a 3-0 record over very solid Georgia wrestlers, including a 13-2 major over Glynn Academy that re-established momentum Suwannee’s way in the title dual.
Florida High (7-2 tournament-4th & season) —
Wins: Ridgeview (44-33), Charlton County (72-6), Wewahitchka (63-6), Ware County (44-33), Bishop Snyder (71-6), Yulee (39-36), Providence (84-0).
Losses not noted above: Glynn Academy (58-14) & Camden County (52-24).
MVP: Jasper Croom (2nd at 1A-106, competing at 106/113). Croom dominated most of the opponents put in front of him, but was able to win with a big takedown when needed, as he did in the third-place dual with Camden County. Croom teched four of his opponents on the weekend (Glynn Academy, Wewahitchka, Ware County and Yulee), with a Friday pin over Ridgeview as well.
Hidden in the box scores: After a Friday-afternoon loss against Glynn, Nicholas Roeder (160/170) max-pointed through the rest of the tournament, completing an 8-1 weekend with six total pins, including falls over Ridgeview, Charlton County, Wewahitchka, Ware County, Yulee and Camden County.
Yulee (6-3 tournament-6th, 7-4 overall) —
Wins: Providence (78-6), Charlton County (74-6), Wewahitchka (60-24), Ridgeview (55-24), Bishop Snyder (70-12), Ware County (56-24).
Losses not noted above: Glynn Academy (42-38) & Steinbrenner (42-39).
MVP: Alex Smith (6th at 1A-195, competing at 195/220). Smith brought the hammer all weekend, with a max-point 9-0 tournament performance. After forfeit wins in the first two rounds, Smith pinned everyone put in front of him, with seven pins in all (Wewahitchka, Ridgeview, Bishop Snyder, Glynn Academy, Ware County, Florida High & Steinbrenner).
Hidden in the box scores: A 9-0 bonus-point performance doesn’t exactly stay hidden, but senior co-captain Dylan Johns (4th at 170, competing at 160/170) had a max-point Friday with three pins (Providence, Wewa & Ridgeview). After opening Saturday with a 17-0 tech over Glynn, Johns closed the day with pins over Ware County, Florida High & Steinbrenner.
Ridgeview (5-4 tournament, 10-8 overall) —
Wins: Providence (72-6), Charlton County (72-10), Wewahitchka (63-18), Bishop Snyder (76-6) & Ed White (72-12).
Losses not noted above: Ware County (64-15), Glynn Academy (63-18).
MVP: Sean Davis (120). Won his first matches of the weekend and finished with an 8-1 tournament, with the lone loss to Glynn Academy. Davis had five pins (Florida High, Providence, Charlton County, Wewahitchka & Bishop Snyder), plus an 8-7 win over Ware County.
Hidden in the box scores: Christian Garcia (19th at 2A-138). Garcia forged his way into the state’s top 20 with an 8-1 tournament of his own, again Glynn providing the lone loss. Garcia had pins in each of the first three rounds (all in duals the Clay County Panthers lost), gathering up five over the weekend, plus a major decision over Bishop Snyder.
Ed White (2-6 tournament, unknown season record due to missing dual result*) —
Wins: University Christian/Bolles (60-12), Mandarin (33-12).
Losses not noted above: South Effingham (75-4), Heritage (72-12), Camden County (72-12), Steinbrenner (54-10).
MVP: Benny Lewis (160). Bounced back from two early losses against out-of-area opposition to finish with a 6-2 tournament. Lewis had falls over Suwannee, Camden, Mandarin and Ridgeview, plus a 10-0 major over Steinbrenner.
Hidden in the box scores: Jordan Jackson (13th at 2A-220) bounced back from a surprise loss by fall earlier in the week, winning his first four matches (all by bonus), but it was still a tough tournament, as Jackson finished with a 5-3 record (4 pins & major) before injury-defaulting out in the last round.
Wewahitchka (3-6 tournament, 4-8 overall) —
Wins: Bishop Snyder (42-36), Providence (48-6) & University Christian/Bolles (46-6).
Losses not noted above: Ware County (69-9), Charlton County (31-30, criteria) & Glynn Academy (71-6).
MVP: Jake Parker (13th at 1A-120, competed at 126). Parker took just one loss over the course of the weekend (Glynn), going 8-1 with six pins and two decisions.
Hidden in the box scores: After taking a loss early against Ware County, Connor Roberts went 7-0 the rest of the way at 160/170. Roberts (14th at 160) was 8-1 for the weekend, with seven pins and a 4-3 decision over fellow state-ranked Dean Wright of Florida High (9th at 160).
Mandarin (1-6 tournament, 3-9 overall) —
Wins: University Christian/Bolles (54-18).
Losses not noted above: Heritage (72-12), Steinbrenner (75-6), Camden County (77-0), South Effingham (72-6).
MVP: Jaelen Simmons (11th at 3A-220). Simmons was a regular starter for the Mustangs, but didn’t appear in all seven duals. But when he was in there, Simmons was 5-0 with five pins, including falls over Bolles, Heritage, Steinbrenner, South Effingham and Ed White.
Hidden in the box scores: Mandarin had a tough tournament, with only five wrestlers finishing the weekend on Saturday, but one solid performance on Friday came from Andrew Disy, who was 3-2 at 145, including one of the Mustangs’ two pins against Heritage (Simmons had the other).
Bishop Snyder (1-7 tournament, 1-10 overall) —
Wins: Providence (48-18).
Losses not noted above: Charlton County (48-36), Glynn Academy (84-0), Ware County (54-15).
MVP: Ethan Preston (113/120). Preston was 4-4 on the weekend, with all of his victories. Preston had pins over Wewahitchka, Charlton County and Providence in succession on Friday, with a fourth pin on Saturday against Ware County.
Hidden in the box scores: Dan Brandenburg (195) also started the tournament 3-0 and finished it 4-4 like Preston; after three consecutive losses in the tournament, Brandenburg bounced back for an 11-4 win over Ware County to assure a .500 tournament.
University Christian/Bolles (0-8 tournament & overall) —
Losses not noted above: Heritage (84-0), Camden County (83-0), South Effingham (72-0), Steinbrenner (84-0).
MVP: Thomas Holt (170). Just one wrestler won contested matches during the tournament and that was Holt, who took pins for the combined teams in dual losses against Ed White and Mandarin.
Providence (0-5 tournament & season, competed at varsity level on Friday only) —
Losses not noted above: Glynn Academy (82-0).
MVP: Stallion wrestlers Spencer Haak & Nick Nuualiitia both picked up two wins on Friday — both of them each recorded one pin, with Nuualiitia earning it against Bishop Snyder and Haak taking his against Ridgeview.
* — missing dual with Riverside on December 14
Rankings are per https://kabrawrestling.com/rankings
Results from the weekend’s tournament can be found HERE.