By MATMEN, Tuesday, 11:50 a.m.
PACE — The only time that Gulf Breeze has not finished in the top half of the 2A-District 1 duals race was the first year that the FHSAA established a dual series.
The Dolphins have always been a team “in the mix,” even qualifying out for the region round in 2019 and again last year.
But no titles. At least not until last Wednesday at Pace, in which Gulf Breeze took three double-digit wins over Choctaw (84-0), Ft Walton Beach (41-30) and the host Patriots (47-29) to win its first district-duals event, ending Pace’s four-year run of district titles.
After a quarterfinal win over Milton (70-12) and the semifinal loss to the champs, Ft Walton Beach got off the deck in a hurry, hammering three opponents in succession. The Vikings defeated Tate (72-9) and Niceville (57-21) in the consis to secure at least third place, then roared past Pace, 48-21, in a dual for true 2nd and their third region-round qualification.
Gulf Breeze (12-5 in duals through the weekend) and Ft Walton Beach (8-5) will advance to Thursday’s Region 1 quarterfinals and semifinals at Lincoln (4 p.m. start time). The Dolphins will face Chiles (6-1) in one quarterfinal, with the Vikings taking on the host Trojans (4-5) in the other. The quarterfinal winners will then meet with a berth in the FHSAA state dual tournament and challenge for the Region 1 title on the line at Osceola on January 20.
Six Gulf Breeze wrestlers were 3-0 on the day, including Garrett Ferguson (106, 2 pins), Aiden Macken (113, 3 pins), Coby Shields (120/126, 2 pins & decision), Nate Weber (132, 2 pins & decision), Colson Elliott (152, 3 pins) and London Taylor (285, 2 pins).
Additionally, the Dolphins got 2-1 efforts from Michael Mancuso (138, pin & tech), JT Intile (145, pin), Jack Donahoe (170, pin) and Isaac Land (195, pin).
Ft Walton got five duals in during its journey back to the region round after a year’s absence, with 5-0 tournaments posted by Steven Banfield (145, 4 pins & decision), Alexander Davidson (160, 3 pins & decision), Darius (we confirmed it finally last weekend) Brundidge (195, 3 pins & major) and Carter Tobik (220, pin/tech/decision).
Zak Vosburgh (120, 2 pins & decision) and Connor Roberts (182, 2 pins) were both 4-0 for the Vikings, while Isaac Vosburgh (106, 2 pins & decision) was 4-1 and Matthew Sinclair (152, 2 pins & injury-default) 3-1. Landon Burbidge (126/132, 2 pins & decision) added a 3-2 tournament for FWB as well.
Pace (7-2 as of district duals) reached the championship final behind wins over Crestview (84-0, team forfeit) and Niceville (54-22), with 4-0 tournaments coming from Alexander Mendez (126, 2 pins & decision), Maeson Otwell (138, pin & 2 decisions) and Isaac Waters (170/182, 2 pins).
The Patriots’ Ty Morgan (170, pin & decision) was 3-0 on the day, while Jordan Baxter (160, pin & decision) and Trenton Goodale (220, pin) were each 3-1.
Niceville (14-7 as of district duals) picked up a quarterfinal win over Tate (42-33) and a consi-semi dual victory over Milton (60-18). Two Eagle wrestlers — Garrett Jarvis (132, 3 pins & major) and Asa Adams (285, 2 pins) — were 4-0 on the day.
Ethan Pinto (138, 3 pins), JJ Martinez (145, 3 pins) and Malachi Lewis (170, pin/tech/decision) each were 3-1 as well for Niceville.
Milton (1-7 in duals; not all results have been received) and Tate (1-8) both took consi-side wins, with Milton knocking off Choctaw, 42-30, and the Aggies taking a 72-0 team forfeit win over Crestview per the tournament bracket.
Tate’s Lahela Grady (120, 2 pins) and Caiden Stone (152, 2 decisions) were both 3-0 on the day, with Zachary Rogers (126, pin), Logan Robbins (160, pin) and Landen George (195, pin) compiling 2-1 tournament records. For the Panthers, Alexis Brown (106, pin), Jordan Weekly (138, 2 pins), Julian Fuentes (170, pin), Brock White (182) and Tyler Green (220) all were 2-1. Choctaw (3-14) picked up two contested victories, with five wins in the loss to Milton.
Results of last week’s event, along with all other area district competitions that are mostly or completely reported, can be found HERE.