#Recap: Host Clay Rallies To Forge Rotary Tie For 1st

Clay wrestlers and coaches celebrate a T-1st team finish, defending their Clay Rotary title and gym Saturday evening (Photo submitted by Claywrestling04 via Instagram).

By MATMEN, Monday, 12:20 a.m.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — For the first time in the Matmen 2022-23 tournament season, there’s been a tie for an IBT tournament title.

That it came in one of the, if not the, biggest IBTs in the regular season — so close on to the post-season just a week and a half away — added more drama as well. As it turned out, Clay needed every point it could muster to forge a tie with Hernando atop the standings of the Clay Rotary on Saturday, as the Blue Devils and Foxes both finished with 199 points.

Area teams made up the rest of the top six, as Buchholz was third with 163 points, Middleburg 4th at 158.5, Bartram Trail 5th with 131 and Matanzas sixth with 123.5.

Fletcher (116.5 points, 8th) and Oakleaf (94.5, 9th) also both made the top 10, while Sandalwood was 1.5 points out of 10th with 90. Bay was 12th with 81 points, followed by Baker County (13th, 79), Tocoi Creek (14th, 75), Pedro Menendez & Riverside (T-15th, 73), South Walton (17th, 69) and Bishop Kenny (19th, 66) all made the top 20 in the two-day, 39-team event.

The bottom half, starting with Mosley & Terry Parker in T-21st with 61.5 points, was made up entirely of local teams. Episcopal was 23rd (60), followed by North Bay Haven (56), Mandarin (55), West Nassau (52), St Augustine (49.5), Ponte Vedra (47), Palatka (43), Union County (42), Forest (39), Bishop Snyder (21), Ed White (17), Raines (16.5), Interlachen (11), Atlantic Coast & Baldwin (10 each), Bolles (nine) and University Christian (zero).

Clay and Bartram Trail were the only teams in the tournament with more than one champion, as both the Blue Devils and Bears each had two.

The Blue Devils got on the title board first behind Jacob Bucci’s title at 106. Bucci (2A-1st) pinned his way through Friday’s rounds, with falls over Tocoi Creek, Fletcher and Villages; in Saturday’s semifinal, Bucci added a fourth pin over Mosley to reach the final and Matanzas’ Timothy McLean (2A-3rd). There, Bucci broke open a scoreless match with an early escape and a later takedown in the second period; in the third, Bucci got a penalty point and a quick turn, holding McLean down for a 6-0 decision.

Needing his individual-championship points just for a best chance to tie with Hernando, Clay senior Dominic Martin delivered as so many Blue Devil seniors have before him, winning the 170 title under tight circumstances. Martin (2A-12th) had pinned his way into the final, with Friday pins over Bay, Terry Parker and Ed White to reach the semis, adding a fourth pin there over Sandalwood to face off against McKeel’s Owen McNabb (1A-4th). Martin scored first with a takedown, adding another late in the second to go up 5-1, and then held off McNabb long enough to make that lead stand up, winning by a 5-4 count.

Ethan Vugman (3A-1st) scored the Bears’ first title, pinning his way through the 126 draw. Friday saw Vugman take pins over Baker County’s Jonathon Walker (1A-15th) and Clay, but he hardly slowed down on Saturday, with pins in both the semi and final over ranked wrestlers, falling Matanzas’ Toryion Stallings (2A-10th) in 3:59 at the semifinal round and then Clay’s Brady Glavin (2A-9th) in 1:54 for the bracket win. Vugman needed just one takedown, 20 seconds in, and then rode Glavin for nearly the remainder of the first before getting the turn and pin.

John McNames (3A-8th) picked up Bartram’s other title at 182; after a pin (St Augustine) and 10-2 major (over 1A-#17 Alexander Cortese of Union County) on Friday, NcNames pushed past West Nassau’s Nolan McKelvy (1A-7th) by 8-4 decision to reach the final and Clearwater CC’s Carson Schiavello (1A-3rd). It took McNames just one takedown to assert control, as McNames used it to establish control, getting the pin in 1:20.

Wrestlers from eight different teams were solo champions on Saturday.

Top-ranked Derrick Williams (1A-1st) of Bay bonus-pointed through the weekend, with four pins and a 12-4 major in the semis over Matanzas’ Kaden Golder (2A-4th). Williams had three first-period pins (Clearwater CC, McKeel Academy and St Augustine) on Friday, pinning Clay’s Drew Holmquist in 2:35 in the final. Williams scored a pair of takedowns in the first period, but showed he could get out from bottom in the second, with a reversal that led to the pin.

Grady Woodard (2A-18th) went over the 100-wins mark on Saturday en route to his championship at 120, as he bonus-pointed through the tournament, with pins over Buchholz, Ponte Vedra and Hernando on Friday, with a fourth pin over Forest’s Aydan Ruano (3A-11th) in 3:10 in the semis, followed by a 15-0 tech (4:58) in the championship round over Hernando’s Jordyn Valle (1A-6th). Woodward raced out to a 7-0 first-period lead on a takedown and two nearfalls; after being ridden out in the second, he returned to turns in the third, with three more nearfalls for the tech.

Buchholz’s Cavarius Liddie (3A-6th) rolled through the 132 bracket, with two pins (Sandalwood and North Bay Haven) and a tech fall (Bartram Trail) on Friday. On Saturday, Liddie didn’t give up a point, with a 6-0 semifinal win over Hernando’s Kenneth Pritz (1A-8th), followed by a 12-0 major in the championship over Middleburg’s Wyatt Leduc (2A-3rd). Liddie had takedowns in both the first and second periods, with three nearfall situations as well.

Palatka’s Mikade Harvey (1A-2nd) took care of business in the 138 bracket, with two bonus-point wins on Friday (pin over Oakleaf, 17-4 major over Matanzas), returning Saturday to post a pair of identical 9-5 results in the semis and final, first over Key West’s Jason Flynn (1A-15th) in the semi, then over Hernando’s TJ Rodier (1A-11th) in the title round. Harvey had four takedowns, at least one in each period, in taking the win, giving up one late in the match.

At 152, Matanzas’ Dylan Parkinson made a strong case for getting back into the statewide rankings, wrecking the bracket with two pins in 42 seconds and a second-period shutout tech (16-0 in 2:54) on Friday. He came back Saturday with a 13-2 major in the semis over Hernando, then had his second shutout tech in the final against Bartram Trail’s Preston Pena (3A-12th). Parkinson needed just two takedowns, one in each period, picking up five nearfall situations from there to secure the 16-0 tech fall in 3:02.

Josh Daltro (3A-10th) was Fletcher’s lone champion, winning the 160 bracket. Daltro pinned his way into Saturday, with falls over South Walton, Tocoi Creek and Mosley, then had a walkover forfeit into the final, where he faced off with Villages’ Kevin Coon (1A-5th). After a scoreless first period, Daltro was able to get out in the second, adding a takedown for a 3-0 lead; likewise, Coon got out fairly quickly in the third, but Daltro picked up another takedown and rode Coon out for a 5-1 victory.

At 195, North Bay Haven’s David Mercado (1A-3rd) bonus-pointed his way into the final, with Friday pins over Villages (pinned 1A-17th Nicholas Caudill of Villages), Bishop Snyder and South Walton, and a 12-3 major over 3A-#8 Duffy Mista of Sandalwood in the semis, before facing 3A-3rd Kason Nichols of Buchholz in the final. Nichols’ escape broke a scoreless tie in the second period, but Mercado was able to secure a takedown with 22 seconds left to go up 2-1. Nichols rode Mercado out all third period, but couldn’t work a turn, as Mercado took the victory.

Riverside’s Thomas Jones (2A-10th) controlled the 220 bracket in staying unbeaten (35-0) with two first-period pins over Oakleaf & Bay, then edged Key West’s Ralph Riche (1A-11th), 6-5, in the quarters. On Saturday, Jones added two more wins over ranked opponents, with a 9-3 semifinal win over Clay’s Kedtric Wilbourn (2A-5th) and then a 19-8 major in the championship match against Middleburg’s Tucker Cody (2A-14th). Jones had four takedowns and a reversal in the match, with a pair of 3-point nearfalls as well.

The coverage area had one additional finalist at 145, as Middleburg’s Logan Moore (2A-8th) reached the final behind three pins Friday and a tech fall in the semis, but then lost by fall (2:34) in the championship match to Hernando’s James Gadson (1A-9th).

Brackets from the weekend can be found HERE.

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