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STATE DUALS

#1Astateduals: Pirates Hijack War Eagle Bid For Finals

Wakulla’s Julian Harvey (106) was the War Eagles’ lone bright light in the 1A state semifinals against Palm Bay on Saturday at Osceola HS, shown here winning by fall (Photo by Shannon Heaton; more Wakulla action photos are accessible on the Matmen Instagram page, nflamatmen).

KISSIMMEE — Each of the previous two seasons, it took the juggernaut of the US Southeast, Lake Highland Prep, to end Wakulla’s runs at the FHSAA 1A state dual tournament.

Saturday, in the FHSAA 1A state semifinals at Osceola, it was Palm Bay, and not the Highlanders, that represented Region 2, but the Pirates sure seemed equally formidable from the War Eagles were standing.

Palm Bay allowed just one Wakulla victory, a third-period fall from Julian Harvey at 106, in suffocating the War Eagles’ hope for a third straight 1A finals appearance with a 57-6 semifinal win.

“He’s opening up. Being super offensive, and he’s really embraced it,” Wakulla coach William Pafford said. “His dad was a state champ, and it’s tough to follow in those kinds of footsteps.

“But he’s done a really good job.”

The Pirates delivered big hits and small blows in otherwise mostly throttling the War Eagle attacks Saturday morning. Palm Bay had four pins, three of them coming early as the Pirates built a 28-0 lead.

Wakulla (26-3) had hopes that Harvey’s fall would jumpstart a restart, but Palm Bay did to the War Eagles what they do to most teams, closing out the dual with seven straight victories, four of them ending by decision.

That gave a sense that Wakulla was in it, competitively, against the Pirates, but at the same time the War Eagles were swimming in cement.

“For me, life’s about moments, and these kids got this moment, and I’m thankful for that, because many states out there aren’t wrestling right now,” Pafford said of his team, which is scheduled to host the MyHOUSE Big Bend one-day IBT on January 30.

“In terms of the matches, we had about four swing matches there. Of course, I want them to do better, and of course we have things to work on, but I’m just glad we were here.”

As good as Palm Bay was, Somerset Academy was just a little bit better on Saturday. The Panthers opened with a rout of Lemon Bay, 67-9, in the semis, racking up 10 pins and an 11th bonus-point win with a major. Somerset won by fall at nine weights in a row, from 285 through 152.

In the championship dual, the Panthers became the first 1A school other than Lake Highland Prep, which won the title each of the previous three seasons, to win a state duals title, after taking a 33-28 victory over Palm Bay. Four straight wins from 132 through 152 helped the Panthers rally back for the win, as Skyler Caban (132) won by fall, Darian Estevez (152) took a 12-2 major and Chase Gillis (7-3 at 138) and Bas Diaz (4-3 at 145) both won by decisions.

Box scores for all of the 1A matches from Friday and Saturday can be found HERE.

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STATE DUALS

#3Astateduals: Riverdale Pins Take Down FIHS

Fleming Island wrestlers gather for a team photo Saturday afternoon at Osceola HS in Kissimmee (Photo by Meridyth Smith; action photos from Saturday can be found on the Matmen Instagram account, nflamatmen).

KISSIMMEE — If you’re feeling faint in the heart, perhaps just stay away from the North Florida Wrestling Academy facility, locally just known as “the warehouse,” over the next couple of days.

There’ll be a keyed-up group of Fleming Island kids rallying back behind a set of hard practices after Saturday’s 39-27 3A state semifinal loss to Riverdale at Osceola HS.

“Not now,” said Golden Eagles coach PJ Cobbert, asked if it would be difficult for his group to regain motivation after the loss.

“Not now. Sometimes you don’t learn much from a win. There’s some hurt boys over there, but that hurt’s got to be short-lived. We’ll get back to work tomorrow, get right back in the mix. They’re going to have to learn how to overcome adversity.”

Cobbert had noted Friday night after the Golden Eagles’ Region 1 title win over Timber Creek that defending against turns and nearfall situations was going to be critical on Saturday.

It was.

While several Fleming wrestlers had success setting the pace on top, with seven wins and turns for back points in all but one of them, Riverdale proved equally adept, if not even a little more so, racking up six pins, five of them coming in a six-match run that ultimately doomed the Golden Eagles’ chances of reaching the state final for the third time in the four-year history of the FHSAA duals tournament.

“Gotta wrestle six minutes, and I told them you’ve got to get bonus (points),” Cobbert said. “They’re a big-move type of team that likes to swing for the fences, while we want to wear people down. Sometimes you’ve got to take body blows, and we didn’t take them well.”

The Golden Eagles had a solid run between 170 and 106, dropping just one match in that stretch — and in overtime on a 50-50 call to boot. Joseph Forte (106) won by fall in the second period, with Jhoel Robinson (13-1 at 170) and Hunter Williams (18-6) having their way with turns for major decisions. Gavin Smith (6-5 at 182) and Raul Gonzalez (3-0 at 220) added decisions during that stretch.

After that, though, Fleming Island (14-1) took just two victories, giving up five pins in the closeout of the dual. David Parkes (152) ended the dual with a 14-4 major and Riley Holton (126) took a 9-2 win.

“I have so much respect for Fleming Island. We knew we had to match their intensity; if we didn’t come out and meet them punch-for-punch, we would be in trouble,” Riverdale coach Kris Hayward said. “Every single match was tough. We wrestle that dual 10 times, we probably get five and they probably get five.”

In the other semifinal, Ft Pierce Central took the opening lead against defending three-time champion South Dade, but the Buccaneers took win streaks of four, four and three weight classes to roll to a 55-13 victory.

In the championship, South Dade trailed again early, but back-to-back-to-back wins from Joshua Swan (182), Sawyer Bartelt (195) and Craig Silimon (220), and again from Luis Acevedo (106), Adrian Morales (113) and Joshua Aviles (120) allowed the Buccaneers to nearly double up Riverdale, 45-24, for their fourth FHSAA duals title, a feat no other Florida school has accomplished.

Box scores for all of the 3A matches from Friday and Saturday can be found HERE.

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STATE DUALS

#2Astateduals: Champion Braves Roll Past NSB In Semi

New Smyrna Beach’s Jamey Bruner (right) attempts to fend off a single-leg shot by Lake Gibson’s Hayden Whidden during the 2A state semis Saturday morning at Osceola HS in Kissimmee (Photo by Shannon Heaton; more New Smyrna Beach action photos are posted on the Matmen Instagram page, nflamatmen).

KISSIMMEE — In the world of wrestling, David doesn’t always take down Goliath.

Saturday, in the semifinals of the 2A state duals tournament at Osceola HS, the scrappy Davids of New Smyrna Beach had few answers for the juggernaut Lake Gibson program, which had won the 2020 state traditional title and won state duals in 2019.

The Braves jumped out to a 17-0 lead; after the ‘Cudas got on the board with Doug Dittmer’s second-period fall at 195, Lake Gibson then tacked another eight wins in a row to cruise to a 60-18 win over New Smyrna Beach.

In the final, the Braves held off Palmetto Ridge, 39-32, to win their third 2A state duals championship. New Smyrna Beach (16-2) goes back to the drawing board with an appearance at Flagler Palm Coast’s Flagler Rotary on Friday and Saturday.

“We knew it would be a tough go, and we had some chances to score some points, but you make a mistake, they will put you on your back, and that happened to us,” ‘Cudas coach Kevin Kehoe said.

“We ran into a buzzsaw, but we’ll be back and we’ll see some of those guys at states. We’re looking forward to it.”

Lake Gibson got out to the 17-point gap behind pins at 170 and 182, plus a tech fall at 160, before Dittmer won by fall in 2:40 at 195.

Things went from bad to mostly worse over the next eight weights, as the Braves took bonus points in seven of those, with pins at 220, 113, 132 and 138, tech falls at 120 and 126 and a 6-4 win at 106.

The ‘Cudas got some positive momentum in closing out the dual, with pins from Michael Shannon (145) and Hunter Childress (152), both in the first period.

In the other semifinal, Palmetto Ridge spotted Southridge a 12-0 lead and the Region 4 champs were able to maintain it through the 285 weight clas, but the Bears came back to win seven of the next eight matches, all of them with max-points (six by pin) to take a 52-22 win.

The championship dual saw the Braves trail just once, 22-18, following a Bernardo Barnhart pin at 113 in favor of the Bears. After that, Lake Gibson took wins in five of the final seven weight classes, with pins from Alex Walker (120) and Hayden Whidden (126), plus decisions from Blake Walker (8-6 at 132), Brendon Abdon (152) and Jason Lemmond (160) to secure the Braves’ third state duals win.

Box scores for all of the 2A matches from Friday and Saturday can be found HERE.

JOIN us on Facebook at North Florida Matmen (you can also friend me on my personal page) or on Twitter at @NorthFLAMatmen, or on Instagram at nflamatmen.
The GHSA tournaments are in Week 2, with state dual prelims! Check out the latest on our affiliated site at  http://sgamatmen.wordpress.com
Please support our independent journalism!
We’re on Venmo now: Shannon-Heaton-6
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