By MATMEN, Sunday, 8:05 p.m.
PANAMA CITY — There are several competitions within the competition that could be found this weekend at Bay’s 4th Annual George Mulligan Memorial.
The competition for Panhandle-area bragging rights. The competition for Bay County all-conference honors. And, of course, the race for the Mulligan team and individual titles.
And, the competition in which a given team fared determined which one teams gave priority to in the two-day, 29-team tournament.
Area-wide bragging rights? Those belonged to fourth-place Gulf Breeze, the top Florida team in the field, as only three Georgia teams not otherwise competing in their classification’s state duals tournament finished ahead of the Dolphins’ 202.5-point team total.
County champion? That belonged to ninth-place North Bay Haven, the top Bay County team in the field, as the Buccaneers outdistanced conference runnerup (and 10th overall) Mosley, 132-111.
As for the rest of the Region 1 coverage area — covering all of the Panhandle plus Florida High from the Tallahassee area and Ridgeview from northern Clay County — the Seminoles cracked the top-5 team list as the top 1A team from the area, with 194 points, while Pace was seventh (171.5) and Niceville eighth (147).
South Walton, with 102.5 points, was 11th, followed by Bay in 12th (100), Ridgeview 13th (99), Rutherford 14th (97), Milton 16th (86), Bozeman 17th (83), Arnold 19th (79), Ft Walton Beach 20th (75), Wewahitchka 21st (69), Tate 22nd (63), Crestview 23rd (49), Liberty County 24th (48.5), Rocky Bayou Christian 25th (42), Choctaw 26th (41), Destin (27th) 30, Freeport 28th (19) and Marianna 29th (15).
Ten wrestlers from Region 1 teams won Mulligan individual weight-class titles, as Florida High, Pace and Wewahitchka each had multiple champs.
Top-ranked (1A) Jasper Croom got things started with his 106 title run for FSUS. Croom teched three different opponents, outscoring wrestlers from Liberty County, Ridgeview (where he did trail early) and Rocky Bayou Christian by a 63-16 count to get to the final and Gulf Breeze’s Garrett Ferguson (8th-2A). There, Croom would give up first takedown, but had all the offense after that, with a reversal late in the first period and a takedown in the third for a 5-2 decision.
Collin Bishop (12th-1A at 220) would add the second title for the Seminoles, bonus-pointing his way into the final with pins over Mosley, Tate and Thomas County Central (GA) in the semis, plus a 12-0 major over Bozeman in the quarters, to get to the final and Pace’s Trenton Goodale. In the championship round, Bishop would bag takedowns in each period, allowing Goodale only two penalty points and a late escape to take an 8-3 decision.
Pace’s Maeson Otwell (8th-2A) got the Patriots on the title board with his victory at 138. Otwell grabbed Friday pins over South Walton and Valdosta (GA), with a 9-5 win over Gulf Breeze in the semis before facing off with another district rival, Niceville’s Ethan Pinto (15th-2A) in the final. After giving up first takedown not even 10 seconds in, Otwell got right away and scored a takedown of his own, parlaying that into a fall in 1:53.
At 170, Ty Morgan (5th-2A) pinned his way into Saturday, with falls over Coffee County (GA), Colquitt County (GA) and Valdosta (GA); in the semis, he saw his first Florida competitor, staving off a late run from Crestview before taking an 8-7. That got Morgan to Florida High’s Jordan Haigler in the final; there, he would score five takedowns and take 3 turns before winning by third-period tech fall (17-2 in 4:52).
As for the Gators, Jake Parker (16th-1A) upset the area applecart a bit with his run to the 120 title. The 4 seed in the weight class, Parker had Friday pins over Florida High and Thomas County Central (GA), then knocked off Liberty County’s Jay Brown (4th-1A) by a 5-2 count in the semis. In the final, against Coffee County (GA)’s Bryan Cates, Parker scored twice, with a quick turn early in the second period before grabbing a second one that resulted in a pin in 3:32.
The Gators’ Conner Roberts (8th-1A) bonus-pointed to the 160 final with Friday pins over Bay and Rocky Bayou, plus a 15-7 quarterfinal major over Pace; in the semis on Saturday, Roberts pinned Coffee County (GA) in 5:28, getting to a potential region matchup against Florida High’s Dean Wright (10th-1A). While riding in the third, Roberts was able to pull together a 3-point turn, and that was the difference in a 4-1 win.
Bay’s Derrick Williams (1st-1A at 113, tournament lower-weight OW), Gulf Breeze’s Nate Weber (12th-2A at 132), Ridgeview’s Bailen Culver (182) and North Bay Haven’s David Mercado (3rd-1A at 195, tournament upper-weight OW) were solo champions for their teams on Saturday.
Williams ran his season record to 47-0 with five weekend victories, pinning his way into the final with falls over Wewahitchka, Choctaw and Colquitt County (GA) on Friday, plus a fall in the semis over Pace before facing Gulf Breeze’s Aiden Macken (9th-2A) in the title match. Williams established early momentum with two 1st-period takedowns, the second just before the buzzer, and then scored twice again in the third (once off the mat, once on the feet) to take an 8-2 win.
Weber pinned his way through the 132 field, with Friday pins over Bay, Destin and Valdosta (GA), plus a semifinal pin over Niceville before falling South Walton’s Gibson Moore (17th-1A) in 4:11 in the final. Weber scored in each period, with a big turn 25 seconds into the match, and led 13-3 before securing the fall just moments into the third period.
Unseeded Culver (also unranked this week; that is likely to change) had two bonus-point wins (pin over Colquitt County, 16-0 tech over Mosley) on Friday; after a 9-7 semifinal win over Milton’s Cameron Keys in a matchup of very unheralded competitors, proved his quality in the final with a pin in 5:48 over Rutherford’s Bryson Schirmer. Both wrestlers had 2-point turns during the match, with Schirmer’s coming early in the third; from there, Culver was able to reverse out and collect the fall.
Mercado pinned his way through the 195 bracket, with five pins in a combined mat time of 7:51, with only one match going past the first period. After Friday pins over Rutherford, Milton and Destin, Mercado falled Coffee County (3:24) in the semis, coming back in the final to pin Thomas County Central (GA)’s lone finalist, Hunter Ryan, in 1:28. Mercado had a pair of takedowns in and a quick turn that turned into a quick pin in the match.
Two wrestlers from the region reached the finals of their respective weights, where they wound up falling to a Georgia-based competitor.
At 152, Gulf Breeze’s Colson Elliott (7th-2A) pinned his way into the final, with falls over Bozeman, Bay and Montgomery County (GA), but then lost by DQ in the finals to Colquitt County (GA)’s Russell Flowers. At 285, unseeed Carlos Sanchez of South Walton had pins Friday over Bozeman and Gulf Breeze before edging the second seed from Colquitt County, 5-4, in the semis. In the final against Coffee County’s Dane Rish, his team’s lone champion, Sanchez matched Rish’s one takedown and one escape in regulation, but was hit with a second stall warning and cut Rish in double-OT. Rish then rode Sanchez out for a 5-3 victory.