By MATMEN, Friday, 9:25 p.m.
GULF SHORES, AL — North Bay Haven junior David Mercado was the only Florida wrestler to win a Gulf Shores Scuffle title on Friday.
Mercado’s championship at 195 led the Buccaneers to a 15th-place team showing in the 22-team varsity two-day tournament, with 41 points.
Alabama’s Mortimer Jordan held off St Pauls’ School of Louisiana for the team title, with 252.5 points to the Louisiana side’s 240. Most of the teams were from Alabama, but teams from Mississippi, Tennessee and Oklahoma also competed, in addition to North Bay Haven.
The top seed at 195, Mercado (#3-1A at 195) had a bye into the round of 16, with Thursday pins over Baker (AL) and Mortimer Jordan, both in the second period.
On Friday, Mercado opened with a first-period fall in the semis over Vancleave (MS), to get to the final against unseeded Arab (AL)’s Conner Knighten. As he did in the semi, Mercado needed just one takedown to secure control, and it wouldn’t be too long after his two scored 19 seconds in, as he got the turn and fall in 1:22 to win the title, his second win at Gulf Shores.
Mercado was the only one of four Buccaneer varsity competitors to place on Friday (though several regular starters did compete for NBH in the junior-high classification).
Former Dolphin reaches final: Baker (AL) senior Dalton Kovacs, who spent his first two high school seasons wrestling at Mosley, reached the Scuffle final at 170.
Kovacs, the second seed in the bracket, pinned his way into the final, with falls over Arab (AL), Bartlett (TN), Bayside Academy (AL) and Ada (OK), but couldn’t stop unbeaten St Pauls (LA) top seed Landry Barker in the final.
Barker had takedowns in each period, allowing Kovacs only a penalty point early in the third period out of the neutral stance. Kovacs had a 34-35 career record with the Dolphins and was a Saturday qualifier at 2A-Region 1 in 2021, competing then as now at 170.
Junior high results: Among teams competing at the junior high level, only host Gulf Shores (149 points) outpointed North Bay Haven’s 112 points, as the Buccaneer middle-schoolers were 2nd as a team.
Nathan Mercado (112), Caleb Fuster (130) and Zander Stillgess (135) — all regular starters with the Buccaneer varsity group in most events — were weight-class champions for North Bay Haven in the junior high brackets.
All rankings from https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings/class-1A