#Recap: Falcons Grab Top Area Finish At Paxon

By MATMEN, Monday, 8:50 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE — Taking team champion and lone out-of-area side Vero Beach out of the equation in Saturday’s Paxon Invitational, the Golden Eagles’ one-day IBT gave a chance for teams to compete in a mid-sized IBT event as preparation for next month’s post-season series.

Pedro Menendez has been a team that’s had to make some upgrades in preparing for its district neighbors, and while the Falcons would be first to suggest much more needs doing, what has been done to date resulted in the area’s top finish in Paxon’s event, as Menendez finished second with 166 points.

Riverside was third at 151.5, with Beachside (142) and Tocoi Creek (137) rounding out the top five teams. Host Paxon was sixth, with 95 points, followed by First Coast (84), Stanton (79), Wolfson (72), Englewood (71.5), Atlantic Coast (70), Keystone Heights (37), Providence (26), Baldwin (25) and University Christian (17).

Seven different teams — aside from Vero Beach, which pulled down five titles on the day along with the team title — won individual weight-class brackets, with three — Beachside, Tocoi Creek and Paxon — going home with two each.

Beachside’s two ranked wrestlers, Grady Smith (145) and Eddie Craig (182), led their team to third place behind weight-class wins.

Smith (1A-20th) started, after a bye, with a tight 12-9 win over Tocoi Creek in the quarters, but after getting tested by that decision victory, opened up his offense with a pair of first-period falls, with pins over Atlantic Coast (semis) and in 1:42 in the championship match over Pedro Menendez’s Hunter Martin. Smith gave up first takedown to Martin 34 seconds in, but was able to get out and made a takedown of his own count for the fall.

Craig (1A-15th) also had nothing but pins for his day, but they took progressively more time to collect; after a rd-of-16 bye, he won by fall over Riverside (quarters), over a Beachside teammate (semis) and in the third period by pin (5:09) over Wolfson’s Liam Strange, a district rival. Craig had a pair of takedowns, the second one halfway through the third period that became a turn and pin.

Tocoi Creek’s championships came from Aidan Hubbell (106) and Willie Sims (138), in leading the Toros to fifth.

Hubbell, the 2 seed at 106, had a bye into the quarters, then pinned wrestlers from Providence (quarters) and Stanton (semis), both in the second period, before taking a 28-second fall in the championship match over Beachside’s Oliver Hayden.

Sims made a bid for a statewide ranking with his win at 138; normally at 132, he took pins over Atlantic Coast and over Pedro Menendez before facing Vero Beach’s Kevin Benjamin (3A-13th) in the final. Benjamin dominated the match for most of the match, going up 8-0 in the second period with a couple of quick turns, but it would be Sims that would make one count, getting his first takedown midway through the third and making it stick with a pin in 5:21.

As for the hosts, Paxon had back-to-back titles at 113 and 120 from Justin Williams and Kyle Brown, respectively.

Williams pinned his way through the 113 group.; after a bye into the quarterfinals, he took first-period pins over University Christian (quarters) and Stanton (semis) before facing Tocoi Creek’s Alessandro Bazan in the championship round. After a scoreless first period, Williams broke through with an early takedown and turn in the second, securing the pin in 2:31.

Brown (1A-10th at 120) also pinned his way through the day, though it did take a little more time than it did for Williams; like Williams, Brown had a bye into the quarters, where he falled Keystone Heights and later Atlantic Coast (semis) before pinning Pedro Menendez’s Logan Geist for the title. Brown had nearfalls in both the first and second periods before taking the fall in 3:28.

Stanton’s Elias Spurlin (1A-9th at 126) never had to go past the first period in taking the Blue Devils’ lone championship. After a bye into the quarters, Spurlin took falls over Gateway Conference rivals from Atlantic Coast (quarters) and Paxon (semis) before falling Pedro Menendez’s Erik Smith in 58 seconds to claim his title. Spurlin needed just three takedowns all tournament long, as he was not scored upon.

Pedro Menendez’s lone title came at 152, where Archer Bosick pinned his way through the draw; after a bye into the quarterfinals, Bosick took pins over Riverside (quarters), Englewood (semis) and over a second Riverside wrestler, Orion Barnhardt in the championship match. Bosick got his first takedown nine seconds into the match and rode Barnhardt for the entirety of the match prior to the turn and pin.

Riverside’s Thomas Jones (2A-10th at 220) won the 285 title, with pins over Paxon in the quarters and First Coast in the semis; in the final, a matchup between Gateway finalists (but in different classes), Jones won his second IBT in as many weekends, taking a 10-5 decision over Englewood’s Keith Forbes. After giving up first takedown, Jones showed he could get out easily enough, getting three reversals from bottom; he also had a quick tilt halfway through the second period.

Wrestlers reaching the finals, only to fall to Vero Beach in the final, were First Coast’s Storm Ward (132) and Dean Marshall (195), Tocoi Creek’s Daniel Hageman (160), Riverside’s Anthony Kearney (170) and Englewood’s Malik Neely (220).

Complete results for the tournament can be found HERE.

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