By MATMEN, Wednesday, 12:30 a.m.
YULEE — Yulee’s depth nearly brought the Hornets a district duals title last week and might be enough, with a reversal of fortune or two, to get the Eagles to the 1A state duals tournanment weekend after next.
This weekend at the Hornets’ annual Joe Bees Memorial Battle of the Border, so named to honor the passing of former Yulee wrestling parent Joe Bees, a local chef who specialized in preparing meals for the team prior to tournaments, it was Yulee’s depth that carried them to the team title, as the Hornets outpointed Villages, 209.5-178.
Bishop Kenny outdistanced Baker County, 163-131, for third place, followed by Nease in fifth (110); after the St Johns Panthers were Union County (sixth, 104), First Coast (ninth, 53), Mandarin (10th, 52), Columbia (11th, 49), Atlantic Coast (12th, 12 points) and Orange Park (13th, 5.5). Tocoi Creek and University Christian had no team score.
Yulee also had some star power as well, claiming four weight-class wins. First up among those was Logan Pugh (126), who pinned his way through the bracket, with a Friday fall over Booker and Saturday pins over Nease and over Columbia’s Kevin Fink (1:42) for the title.
Next up for the Hornets was Austin Adamson (11th-1A) at 138, who’d bonus-pointed to the final behind Friday wins over Columbia (16-2 major) and Villages (second-period pin), plus an 11-3 major over Columbia in the semis. In the final against Nease’s Parker Stamschror (16th-3A), Adamson closed out his Battle of the Border career with a 5-2 win.
At 195, Alex Smith (6th-1A) joined Pugh in pinning his way through the tournament, with falls on Friday over Tocoi Creek and first-period pins Saturday over Union County in the semis and over Villages’ Nicholas Caudill in 1:06 for the championship.
Braylen Ricks (8th-1A at 220, competing at 285) closed out the day and tournament with Yulee’s fourth title and third one won with all pins; after a bye into the quarters, Ricks had a Friday pin over First Coast and Saturday falls over Booker in the semis and over Cocoa’s Blake Shaffer (8th-1A) in 1:04 to take the championship.
Bishop Kenny matched Yulee’s haul of four titles, kicking things off with Jacob Harless’ title at 120. Harless (20th-1A) pinned his way through the tournament, with a Friday pin over Nease and Saturday falls over Atlantic Coast in the semis and over Baker County’s Taz Kinghorn (2:13) for the bracket win.
Jack Raynor was next on the title list for the Crusaders, with Friday pins over Mandarin and Union County to get to the semis, where he pushed past Booker (11-7 decision) and then took the championship with an 11-3 major over Cocoa’s Alexis Escobar.
Roberto Cuartero (2nd-1A) made it back-to-back titles for Bishop Kenny, with three first-period falls (going over 100 pins for his career). Cuarter had a Friday pin over Yulee’s Samuel Sahrphillips (19th-1A), coming back for falls over Union County in the semis and then in the final over Baker County’s Keith Ratliff (16th-1A, fall time 1:37).
Collin Hearn (13th-1A) completed the four-pack of wins for the Crusaders, pinning his way into the final with a Friday fall over Villages and a semifinal pin Saturday over First Coast, but he needed every point he could muster to overcome Yulee’s Christopher Aud (9th-1A), 5-4, in the championship match.
Three wrestlers — Baker County’s Jareb Lauramore (113), Nease’s Alan Rivera (170) and Mandarin’s Jaelen Simmons (220) — were solo champions for their teams.
Lauramore (15th-1A) also had a close final after pinning his way into it, with falls over Bishop Kenny on Friday and Union County on Saturday, but he was tested in the finals against Villages’ Devinn Dunn (17th-1A), before finally securing an 8-7 decision for the Wildcats’ lone championship.
The fourth seed at 170, Rivera wound up pinning his way through the draw, with a Friday third-period fall over Villages and Saturday pins over Booker in the semis and then in the final over Bishop Kenny’s Luke Ghannam (13th-1A) in 4:34 to win the title.
As for Simmons, he needed just 2:48 of mat time to collect the 220 gold, with a Friday pin over First Coast and Saturday falls over Booker in the semis before pinning the hosts’ Cayden Ricks in 1:08 to take first place.
Local wrestlers who fell in the finals of their respective weight classes to out-of-area competitors were Yulee’s Josh Harris (106, 6th-1A), Union County’s Ian Halfacre (132, 17th-1A) and Nease’s Jacob Lutz (160, 7th-3A).
Special mention in this story has to go out to Yulee senior Dylan Johns, who lost in the quarters at 170 when his opponent could not continue 17 seconds into the match. Johns then won four consi-side matches to rally back for third behind 3 pins and a 20-5 tech, going over the 125-career wins mark as a result.
You can see full team scores and brackets from the weekend’s competition HERE.
All boys rankings from https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings