By MATMEN, Sunday, 6:20 p.m.
LIVE OAK — For years, and certainly ever since the FHSAA dual series began six seasons ago, Suwannee has been chasing.
First, it was Florida High. Then, it was Wakulla. Now, the Bulldogs are the ones being chased, and in their first taste of the role, they’ve not cracked under it.
And they proved it last Thursday at home in 1A-Region 1 quarters and semifinals, hammering Bay (65-15) and bottling up District 2 rival Wakulla (39-18) to reach their first Region 1 final on January 20 at Osceola.
Suwannee (ranked 8th, 34-3 in duals after weekend competition) will face 11th-ranked Episcopal (18-3), a team that has also recently its fair share of chasing, at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. weighin) with the region title and berth in Saturday’s state semifinal on the line.
Below follows a summary of each dual wrestled at Suwannee —
Quarterfinal 1 — Suwannee 65, Bay 15: The District 2-champ Bulldogs jumped out to an 18-0 lead on pins from Topher Pearson (3rd at 120, fall over #15 Leonardo Sanchez), Brody Boehm (5th at 126) and Colt Abersold (132) before the Tornadoes (10-10) scored on Elijah Stillgess’ fall at 138 over #19 Ayden Kirby. … The Bulldogs then clinched advancement behind a 47-0 run fueled by seven pins and one tech. Marshall White (13th at 145), Austin McKinney (7th at 152), Dustin Wood (10th at 170), Benjamin Lewis (182), Christian Harrell (195), Holden Corbin (220) and Sam Ballard (285) all won by fall during that run, while Austin Howard (3rd at 160) added a 15-0 TF. … Suwannee forfeited to Bay at 106, and the Tornadoes’ Derrick Williams (1st at 113) ended the dual the way it began (with a matchup of two ranked wrestlers), turning back #13 Justin Contreras by a 9-4 count.
Quarterfinal 2 — Wakulla 69, North Bay Haven 5: The War Eagles (9-5) put a dent in any upset hopes that the District 1-champion Buccaneers (13-12) might have had, putting up a 48-0 lead before North Bay Haven got on the board. … Troy Thaxton (14th at 120), David Culley (126), Caleb Orr (132), Nate Jacobs (152) and Alex Akins (182) all had falls during that opening barrage, with Jae T Thaxton (8th at 145) taking a 16-0 TF over #11 Bear Siegal and Zabdiel Garcia-Esquilin (160) winning by 13-5 major. … North Bay Haven’s lone points came by tech fall from #2 David Mercado (195), who took a 19-3 win at that weight. … The War Eagles finished up the dual with pins from Sultan Ellington (220) and Connor Brown (3rd at 106), plus a 7-6 decision at 113 from #18 Anthony Fondo.
Semifinal — Suwannee 39, Wakulla 18: The War Eagles did lead for the first quarter or so of the dual thanks to a Culley pin at 126 and decisions for Brady Jackson (#17 at 138, 8-6 over Kirby and Jae T Thaxton (6-0 over White) that built a 12-3 start. … But Suwannee would rally; in addition to Boehm’s 9-3 win at 126, the Bulldogs put on a 27-0 run on pins from McKinney (152), Howard (160), Wood (170), Harrell (this time at 182) and a 7-3 win from Lewis at 195. … Wakulla would cut the lead to 12, 30-18, behind decision wins from Kohl Pippin (#11 at 220) and Aaron Caquimbo (285). … With the region-final berth still very much in play at 106, Eli Jolicoeur (2nd at 106) slammed the door shut on Wakulla with his 8-6 win over Brown; Contreras (7-1 over Fondo at 113) and Pearson (7-0 over Troy Thaxton at 120) finished up the night in Suwannee’s favor.
You can find full results for this site’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds HERE.