By MATMEN, Monday, 5:20 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — Winning six weight-class titles does a lot for a team’s chances to walk away with the title trophy as well.
Saturday at Wolfson, Creekside picked up win after win — a six-pack of bracket wins — in outdistancing Matanzas, 209-122.5, for the team championship at the Wolfpack Challenge.
Pedro Menendez was just 4.5 points back of the Pirates, with 118 points for third. Tocoi Creek held off Stanton, 86-84, for fourth, followed by Wolfson (6th, 67 points), Paxon (7th, 65), Englewood (8th, 54), Atlantic Coast (9th, 43), Creekside B (10th, 41), Keystone Heights (11th, 37), Bolles (12th, 29), Providence (13th, 26) and St Johns Country Day (14th, 22).
Recording title efforts for the St Johns Knights were Justin Umali (14th-3A at 120), Stephan Carrion (132), Conner Wright (15th-3A at 138), Colton Leavell (170), Joseph Bartels (195) and Eli Pagan (220).
Umali picked up two first-period pins in reaching the final, with preliminary falls over Creekside B and Pedro Menendez, but had a battle with Paxon’s Kyle Brown (9th-1A) in the final. Brown got out to a 4-0 first-period lead behind a takedown and quick turn, but Umali bounced back to cut the lead to 5-4 on two second-period takedowns, and tied the match at 6-6 with a takedown; another turn seconds later got him the lead, and he held on for an 8-7 victory.
Like Umali, Carrion pinned his way into the final, with falls over Providence and Keystone Heights, but had to go a full six to turn back Tocoi Creek’s Willie Sims, 2-0. After riding Sims throughout the second period, Carrion got a reversal 23 seconds into the third and made that stand up.
Wright was able to fall his way through the bracket, taking preliminary pins over Tocoi Creek (quarters) and Matanzas (semis) before pinning Stanton’s Dean Holt in 1:46, his quickest pin of the day. Wright needed just the one takedown, earned 6 seconds in, to assert control of the match.
Leavell needed just 2:31 of mat time in earning three first-period pins for the title, with falls over a Creekside B teammate and over Pedro Menendez before pinning another Falcon, Maddox Lehman, in 31 seconds in the final round.
After opening with a bye into the semis, and a 7-3 win in that round over Paxon, Bartels pinned Bolles’ Brooks Baker in 48 seconds to win the championship.
At 220, Pagan dominated the bottom half of the bracket with a tech over Tocoi Creek and a pin over Keystone Heights to get to the final and Englewood’s Malik Neely. Pagan hit a big turn in the first period, and that proved to be the difference along with a late reversal in the third for a 9-6 decision.
Matanzas did earn three titles of their own on Saturday, with Kaden Golder (113), Dylan Parkinson (11th-2A at 152) and Jordan Mills (2nd-2A at 182) all winning.
Golder pinned his way through the 113 bracket, with preliminary pins over Wolfson and Atlantic Coast to get to the final against Wolfson’s Tristian Martinez in a battle of top seeds. Golder had a takedown and turn in the first period, with a second turn turning into a fall in 1:45.
Parkinson needed just 2:14 to rack up preliminary pins over Tocoi Creek and a Matanzas teammate in reaching the final against Paxon’s Brendan Lawson. There, Parkinson recorded five takedowns and hit three turns that led to a 17-2 tech fall in 1:40.
As for Mills, he took 2:48 of mat time to secure three falls, with pins over Wolfson and Englewood before falling Wolfson’s Liam Strange in 1:43 for the finals win. Mills had seven takedowns before securing the pin.
Pedro Menendez picked up two weight-class wins on its way to third in the team race, as Hunter Martin (145) and Bryce Alli (160) were victorious in their brackets.
Martin pinned through the 145 bracket, with first-period pins over Tocoi Creek and Wolfson before facing off against Matanzas’ Mason Obama; in that match, Martin picked up a takedown early on; his second one led to the eventual turn and first-period fall.
At 160, Alli had two bonus-point wins before winning by forfeit over Stanton’s Malakhi Lewis in the title round, with a quarterfinal pin over Bolles and an 11-0 major in the semis over Creekside.
Three wrestlers — St Johns Country Day’s Matthew Braddock (106), Stanton’s Elias Spurlin (11th-1A at 120, competing at 126) and Englewood’s Keith Forbes (285) — were solo champions for their teams.
In Braddock’s case, he’s been a team of one; he learned this week he’ll be able to compete in the 1A-District 4 IBT next month. Saturday, he began his stretch run of preparation for the post-season, with pins over Creekside B and Wolfson before powering past Creekside’s Alexavier Panganiban (#16-3A), 6-4, thanks to his mat skills, which led to all six of his points (two reversals, two escapes).
Spurlin pinned his way through the 126 bracket, with three falls in 2:20 of mat time, taking preliminary pins over Tocoi Creek and Paxon before needing 35 seconds to fall Matanzas’ Kyler Corley.
Forbes had two pins prior to the 285 final, with pins over Tocoi Creek in the quarters and over an Englewood teammate in the semi. Against the Knights’ Cole Anderson in the final, Forbes was able to get out early in the second period to go up 1-0; after Anderson escaped early in the third, Forbes secured a takedown with four seconds left in regulation for a 3-1 win.