#Recap: Middleburg Takes Clay Girls’ Title

Middleburg girls wrestlers and coaches celebrate the team championship won Saturday at the 2nd Annual Clay Rotary Girls competition at Clay (Photo submitted via Middleburg team Facebook page).

By MATMEN, Sunday, 8:05 p.m.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Winning a tournament title like the Clay Rotary was a statement that Middleburg hoped to make from the moment the program was born.

Saturday, in the second edition of the Rotary girls’ event, the Broncos made an emphatic one, winning two titles with four runnerup finishes and two thirds, outdistancing Bartram Trail, 137-98, to win the girls’ side of the tournament.

Ponte Vedra held off Oakleaf, 82-80.5, for third place, with McKeel Academy (56) rounding out the top five. Ed White, with 37 points, was seventh, followed by North Bay Haven (35, 8th), Flagler Palm Coast (28, 9th) and Buchholz (27, 10th).

Area teams made up the rest of the field, with Bishop Kenny 11th (22 points), followed by Baker County (21), Sandalwood (20), St Augustine (15), Beachside & Stanton (14 each), Fletcher & Pedro Menendez (13 each), Nease & Tocoi Creek (10 each), Riverside (seven), Mosley (six), Bozeman (four) and Raines (three).

As Middleburg so often has been led the last two seasons, its bookends led the way, as Gracie Bradshaw (100) and Cheyenne Cruce (190) both were individual champions on Saturday.

Bradshaw (4th), a senior, had three first-period pins en route to the victory, with preliminary falls over Bartram Trail (quarters) and North Bay Haven (semis) before facing freshman sister Lily Bradshaw for the final time in both the sisters’ high school careers, with Gracie collecting three takedowns before taking the pin in 1:30.

Cruce (1st) kept her unbeaten season going at 190 (30-0 heading into the post-season), with pins over Bartram Trail, Buchholz and Key West, with her fall over the Lady Conches’ Shannon Briggs (9th) in 5:59 assuring the title. While Cruce held the advantage for the entire match, Briggs kept on battling, and it took Cruce’s last takedown, with five seconds left, to earn the fall.

Bartram Trail matched Middleburg’s title output, but had just one runnerup and no 3rds to keep up with the Lady Broncos, as Katherine Stewart (145) and Ava Burre (155) won back-to-back weight classes.

Stewart, this week’s newly-minted #1 at 145, took four pins in a combined mat time of 4:02, with all four pins in the first period. Her fall in the final round, in 1:22 over Oakleaf’s Sofia Shirley-Montijo, clinched the weight class, as her lone takedown was enough to establish control, from which she worked a turn and pin.

Burre (11th) completed the back-to-back sweep with three falls in her bracket, taking preliminary pins over Nease and Ed White before needing to go deep into the third period to fall Bishop Kenny’s Mallory Frattle (16th). Burre’s takedown and 3-point nearfall in the first period secured the win, but she needed two takedowns in the third to make it happen, as Frattle rallied in the second period to close the gap.

Oakleaf was fourth as a team, but no team had more individual titles than the Clay County Knights’ three, as Adrianna Barrientos (105), Kailani Barrientos (120) and Jayla Harrison (170) all took firsts.

At 105, Adrianna Barrientos (2nd) won twice by fall, with a semifinal pin over Key West before taking a 44-second pin over Middleburg’s Skyla Fisher. Barrientos’ first takedown was the only one she’d need, with the fall coming 15 seconds after the takedown.

Kailani Barrientos (2nd) bonus-pointed through the 120 bracket, opening with a tech fall over Raines (quarters) and semifinal pin over North Bay Haven before shutting out Ponte Vedra’s Natalia Choquegonza (7th), 9-0, in the championship match. Barrientos had takedowns in each period, with a 3-point nearfall situation in the first period, in building the shutout win.

Harrison (5th) had three pins in a bracketed weight class, with falls over McKeel (quarters) and Bartram Trail (semis) before pinning the Lady Bears’ Paige Stewart in 1:25 for the bracket win. After a takedown and early turn in the first 45 seconds, Harrison’s second turn was good enough to secure the fall.

Four area wrestlers — Baker County’s Makayla Johnson (110), Ponte Vedra’s Erin Rizzuto (115), North Bay Haven’s Katherine Lundgren (125) and Flagler Palm Coast’s Ana Vilar (130) — all were solo champions for their teams Saturday.

In the 110 division, Johnson won by pin twice, with a preliminary pin over Ponte Vedra before falling Middleburg’s Memphis Moses in 2:56. Moses picked up the only takedown of the match, but after choosing down to start the second period, Johnson rode on top and used that ride to collect the pin.

Rizzuto (2nd at 115) stayed undefeated for the season behind techs in the quarters and semis over Ed White and Fletcher, respectively, before pinning Middleburg’s Sarah Walsh in 1:12 at title time. Rizzuto scored first, just 18 seconds in, and made that takedown count with a turn and fall barely a minute later.

Lundgren took home the 125 title behind three falls in a combined mat time of 3:04, all coming in the first period, with the last over Ponte Vedra’s Donavanne Reinhard in 1:48. Lundgren made sure that her first takedown 20 seconds in would be the only one she’d need, but it took another 80 or so to secure the fall.

Vilar (4th at 130) max-pointed through the day, with three pins and a medical forfeit; her first match of the day, a fall (3:08) over McKeel’s Gabrielle Bombardier (12th), was the effective championship match. Vilar scored first in the first period, but she was able to ride throughout the second, securing the pin during that ride to close out the match.

Two wrestlers from the coverage area — Sandalwood’s Sara Goodman (18th at 135) and Ponte Vedra’s Olivia Richie (2nd at 140) — were second in their weights after falling in the finals.

Goodman had two pins in the 135 bracket, with pins over Mosley and Baker County, before losing by fall (2:40) to McKeel Academy’s Kiley Earle, while Richie had pins over Ed White & Mosley before facing Key West’s Ailee Briggs (12th) in the final. Richie scored first and had Briggs put to back for 3 NF points, but Briggs was able to get out from bottom three times, the last with 14 seconds left to push toward an 8-7 decision.

Brackets from the weekend can be found HERE.

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