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November 25 Roundup Story

Mike Rickey and his Episcopal wrestlers wanted a taste of success before the Thanksgiving holiday.

They got it thanks largely to five pins Monday night in their home gym, taking down Stanton 48-24 for their first win of the 2013-14 in the only @NEFloridaMatmen area match of the evening.

The Eagles (1-7) rolled out to a 24-0 lead behind 3 forfeits and a fall at 220 from Conor Chepenik in the first four contested matches of the night. That lead extended to 42-0 behind a forfeit and pins from Connor Evans at 120, 7th-grader Curry Pajcic — wrestling his first match of the season — at 126, and Christian Rickey at 138.

Stanton, facing an even more severe short-handed situation than the Eagles, did rally behind their talented middles, as Nicholas Stiles (145) and Sothea Nou (152) both recorded pins, plus a forfeit win at 160, but the Eagles’ Mac Weldon slammed the door on the rally with a fall at 170.

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November 21 Roundup Story

Something had to give in Callahan Thursday night, and ultimately it was host West Nassau who did most of the taking.

In a matchup of two wrestling sides both searching for a first dual victory in 2013-14, the Warriors rode three consecutive pins from their middle weights to create an overwhelming early edge and, eventually, a 58-24 victory over visiting Episcopal.

“It was a much closer match than the score indicates, but I was very pleased with our aggressiveness tonight,” West Nassau coach Forrest Wheeler said via email regarding his side’s effort.

Middles John Forehand (145 pounds), Trevor Higginbotham (152) and cody Kral (160) all got falls for West Nassau (1-5), and those were followed up by a battle of state-ranked wrestlers, as Michael Dudzinski (#11 at 152 in 1A) worked several takedowns to outlast Mac Weldon (#16 at 152 in 1A), 19-7. The dual ended with a fourth Warrior middle pin from Jacob Savage at 138.

After spotting the Warriors a 22-0, Episcopal (0-7) mostly stayed even the rest of the way, with falls coming from Connor Evans (120), Hayes Oken (195) and a new 220-pounder, Conor Chepenik.

Carpenter sidelined still: Surgery for a torn meniscus continued to keep Coker College freshman Shane Carpenter (Creekside ’13) on the sidelines Thursday night, as his Cobra teammates won the first dual meet in the school’s history, defeating Limestone by a 21-19 count. The wrestler competing at Carpenter’s weight of 184 pounds fell by a 6-3 decision to Limestone.

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Bishop Kenny 51, Episcopal 7 — And We’re Underway!

By Shannon Heaton, Northeast Florida Matmen. All rights reserved.

Early in any wrestling season, effort and manpower can have significant impacts on the success or lack thereof in winning duals.

Bishop Kenny proved that again Wednesday night against Episcopal in the @NEFloridaMatmen season debut for both teams, as the HM-listed Crusaders utilized a deeper lineup and – for the most part – an ability to avoid giving up bonus points to cruise to a 51-7 dual victory over the Eagles in the BK gym, taking home the informal “Battle of Atlantic Boulevard.”

“The boys came out as hard as they could. I saw some toughness, and that’s what I look for at this stage,” Bishop Kenny coach Paul Schloth said. “Most are newer wrestlers, and they showed some good stuff, good fundamentals. The kids have bought into what we’re trying to accomplish.”

While it’s a good problem for the school to have a deep football-playoff run, losing the Crusader bigs to that run could have proved difficult for Kenny (1-0), but it turned out that Episcopal (0-1) was dealing with some manpower issues of its own. In addition to three double forfeits in the upper weights, the Eagles gave up 18 consecutive points to Kenny from 120 through 132, putting themselves into a hole in which they could not climb out.

“The thing is, we wrestled a 7th-grader out there tonight, an 8th-grader, three 9th-graders. A lot of inexperience. We had a senior who’d never wrestled before,” first-year Episcopal coach Mike Rickey said. “A lot of inexperience, but we also showed a lot of heart. Down the road, the kids will be all right.”

Episcopal did lead after the first match of the night, thanks to a 14-6 major decision from Hayes Oken at 195, but Kenny stormed right back with a pair of first-period falls at 106 and 113 from Ryan Timmons and Peter Richa, respectively, and never trailed again.

The Eagles were able to break up a six-match run of 6-point victories at 145, where Peter Pitochi staved off a late cradle to hold on for an 11-8 decision, but that would be Episcopal’s last victory of the night.

Two more falls gave Bishop Kenny a total of five on the night, and the exclamation point came in the night’s final and marquee match at 170, which involved two state-ranked wrestlers. Episcopal’s Mac Weldon, ranked 16th at 152, bumped up a weight after weighing in at 160 to face #10 Kuba Kaszuba for the Crusaders.

Kaszuba worked takedowns in each period, including two in the first and a blast double in the third to secure a 9-3 decision to close out the night and get the season fully kicked off in the five-county region.

“We have six guys out for football, and when we get them back, our goal is to hopefully really challenge for the (1A-4) district title,” Schloth said. “We’ve set our goals high…to challenge for districts, to contend for a top-5 place at the region tournament, and we feel we have potentially four kids that can go (to individual state).”

Bishop Kenny and Episcopal will compete next on Saturday in the first of two sets of North Florida duals hosted by Bishop Snyder. Start time is 10 a.m.