#Recap: Wakulla Wins Close At Gator Brawl

By MATMEN, Sunday, 11 p.m.

WEWAHITCHKA — Wakulla has had a commanding grip upon the Gator Brawl for the past several seasons now.

This year, the War Eagles had to fight for every point to defend a determined challenge from Chiles to wrest it away; in the end, it came down to a couple of bonus-point differences, as Wakulla only just outpointed the Timberwolves, 344.5-340.5, for first place.

Waccamaw (SC), the only out-of-area team in the 18-team field, was third with 234.5 points, with Bay (199.5) and Mosley (194) filling out the top five. Ridgeview (179.5) was sixth, followed by Rutherford (169), Milton (150), host Wewa (141), Bozeman (138.5), Arnold (135.5), Liberty County (125), Rocky Bayou Christian (116), Wakulla B (110), Crestview (106), Choctaw (85), Marianna (61.5) and Freeport (58).

The War Eagles had better depth, with two champions to Chiles’ four, as Connor Brown (3rd-1A at 106) and Jae T Thaxton (8th-1A at 145) won titles.

Brown lost his first match to Rutherford’s Dylan Malott, but rallied for a 6-1 pool performance with six pins; that rally helped him take Pool A; in the crossover rounds, Brown added two more pins to the tally, with pins in the semis over Mosley and over Arnold’s James Oliver in 25 seconds in the final; Brown had pinned Oliver in 3:29 during pool play.

Thaxton teched his way — literally — through Pool A, going 8-0 with eight — they’re all listed there, eight — tech falls. He gave up just two escapes to Ridgeview in Round 3 and no points before or after that, racking up 125 of his own. In the final, against Chiles’ Cooper Hill, a ninth tech was not there, but Thaxton did score four times and take a couple of turns en route to a 13-2 major.

Chiles’ titles came from Sam Tolomeo (16th-2A at 120), Jacob Johnston (132), Garrett Marschka (4th-2A at 138) and Dillon Elliott (8th-2A at 195).

Tolomeo max-pointed through Pool B, with five pins and a pair of medical forfeits, to get to the championship crossover, where he won twice, pinning Arnold in 1:02 in the semis, and then stopping Liberty County’s Jay Brown (3rd-1A), 4-3, in the final. Tolomeo’s mat skills proved invaluable, as he reversed out from bottom in both the second and third periods to overcome Brown to win the title.

Johnston bonus-pointed through the tournament to make a case for a state ranking, going 8-0 with eight pins to win Pool A; in the championship final against Pool B champ Kaiden Tibbetts of Ridgeview, Johnston scored five times, with turns in both the second and third periods en route to a 16-7 major and championship win.

In 138-Pool B, Marschka was 9-0 with eight max-point wins and a 1-0 decision over Rutherford’s Romero Black (5th-1A) to take the pool, then had an easier time of things in the championship final over Wakulla’s Brady Jackson (17th-1A), with two takedowns and turns in the first period, needing only a takedown 28 seconds into the second for a 17-1 tech.

Elliott won Pool A with five pins and a medical forfeit, taking pins in the crossover over two Ridgeview wrestlers, the second of those in a rematch of pool competition. Elliott won the title with a fall (3:49) over Ridgeview’s Rayhn Hutchinson; in pool play, Elliott won by pin in 1:05.

Six other area wrestlers represented their teams as solo champions on Saturday.

Bay’s Derrick Williams (1st-1A at 113) was 6-0 with six pins in Pool A, adding two more falls in the championship crossover, pinning Chiles in the semi and then falling Wakulla’s Anthony Fondo (18th-1A) in 2:25 for the title. Williams had a pair of takedowns, with the second one sufficient to become a turn and pin.

Normally it’s Jay Brown that reps Liberty as a solo champion, but this tournament, it was Hunter Brown that won the title, at 126. Brown had six bonus-point wins in Pool B (three pins, two techs, major) for the pool win, adding a fourth pin over Chiles in the semis before turning back the War Eagles’ David Culley, 4-2, for the weight-class win. After giving up first takedown 20 seconds into the match, Brown ran things afterward, with takedowns in both the second and third periods.

The hosts’ Conner Roberts (13th at 160) went over 150 wins during the weekend — he was at 146 going in — taking the Gators’ lone title with his win. Roberts won Pool A with three pins, a medical forfeit and two decisions (including a 4-2 win over #11 Keaton Schirmer of Rutherford), adding two pins in the championship crossover, first over Wakulla and then in the final over Chiles’ Luke Pickels in 2:36. Roberts had two first-period takedowns, scoring the pin from top position in the second.

It’s not often that Milton has enjoyed elite success at regular-season tournaments, but first-year starter Julian Fuentes went home with a title at 170. He was 8-1 with seven pins and a loss by fall to Bay in pool play, but reached the championship final with the top record, pinning Wewa’s Calvin Carpenter in 2:56 for the bracket win, in which he bagged three takedowns and a quick turn before the pin.

Rutherford’s Bryson Schirmer won the title at 182 with a 6-0 Pool B max-point record (5 pins and medical forfeit), adding a sixth pin with his fall over Marianna in the semis. In the championship match against Chiles’ Cody Elliott, Schirmer broke a scoreless tie with 51 seconds left in the match by getting out from bottom, adding a late takedown for a 3-0 decision.

Finally, Mosley’s Marshall Dixon (17th-2A at 220) wrapped up the list of local champions. Dixon pinned his way through Pool B (four matches, four pins), adding three rounds of first-period crossover pins in the championship bracket, with pins over Bay and Bozeman before falling Waccamaw’s Luke Williams in 58 seconds for the championship.

Waccamaw had two titles over the weekend; top area performers where a Waccamaw wrestler won the event were Bay’s Shaun Sandidge (2nd at 152) and Ridgeview’s Trenton Manis (285).

Complete team scores and brackets for this event can be found HERE. All rankings from

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