By MATMEN, Tuesday, 12:02 a.m.
LIVE OAK — The green and white tide could no longer be denied.
After getting closer, and closer, and closer to Wakulla over the previous three seasons, Suwannee finally surged past their longstanding district rivals last Thursday at home in the 1A-District 2 duals tournament.
In a five-team, full roundrobin event, the Bulldogs (24-2 in duals for the season) were 4-0 at home, with wins in order over Godby (84-0), Liberty County (63-12), Florida High (54-24) and the War Eagles (50-21) to win their first district duals title and qualify for the region round for the fourth time.
Suwannee will host quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the 1A-Region 1 duals tournament on Thursday; the Bulldogs will take on Bay (10-9) in one of those quarterfinal rounds.
Although Wakulla (8-4) couldn’t stop the Bulldogs, they did take care of business against the rest of the district, with wins over Florida High (47-26), Godby (78-0) and Liberty County (69-12) to take second and advance to the region round as well. No other team in Class 1A has six region appearances like the War Eagles, who will face North Bay Haven (13-11) in a Region 1 quarterfinal at Suwannee. The quarterfinal winners will then face off with a berth in the FHSAA 1A state duals tournament, to be contested January 20 at Osceola, on the line.
For Suwannee, seven different wrestlers were 4-0 on the night, led by max-pointers Justin Contreras (113, 2 pins), Brody Boehm (126, 2 pins), Austin Howard (160, pin), Dustin Wood (170, 2 pins) and Benjamin Lewis (182/195, 2 pins). Topher Pearson (120, pin & 2 decisions) and Austin McKinney (152, 2 pins & tech) also were 4-0 for the Bulldogs.
Additionally, Eli Jolicoeur (106, 2 pins), Ayden Kirby (138, 3 pins) and Marshall White (145, pin) were each 3-1 for Suwannee.
Wakulla got 4-0 performances from Jae T Thaxton (145, tech), who eclipsed the 125-win mark during the tournament, and from Aaron Caquimbo (285, 3 pins & decision).
The War Eagles also saw a 3-0 effort from Brady Jackson (138, 2 pins & decision) and 3-1 performances from Nate Jacobs (152, pin) and Sultan Ellington (195, decision).
Florida High (11-4) was 2-2 to place third in the tournament, with victories over Godby (66-12) and Liberty County (54-24).
The Noles got two 4-0 efforts on the night, with Jasper Croom (106, tech/major/decision) knocking off the #1 and #3 wrestlers in his weight class (he was 2nd statewide) and Xander Hawkes (195, pin & major) bonus-pointing through the tournament.
Nicholas Roeder (152/160, 2 pins) and Jordan Haigler (170, pin) both were 3-1 for Florida High in the event.
Liberty County (2-6) knocked off Godby, 36-12, in the Bulldogs’ final dual of the tournament.
Jay Brown (120, pin), Hunter Brown (126, 2 pins), Keaton Ellis (132, 2 pins) and Scout Harr (285, 3 pins) each were 3-1 for Liberty County.
As for the Cougars, Godby (0-4) made its first appearance in the FHSAA duals tournament since 2020, itself a positive step for the program.
Results of last week’s event, along with all other area district competitions that are mostly or completely reported, can be found HERE.