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Ponte Vedra — The Season, 2013-14

The Sharks close out my Class 2A season summaries. Like Bartram Trail, I was missing two duals for PV from the Bartram event due to not having them reported otherwise, so everybody has a gap in the records. I went with what was reported to FHSAA as a result. Had good contact all season with the PV staff. Another team that should make increases next year.

PONTE VEDRA

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District Picks, Part 2A-4: The Voyage Creekside

No rest for the somewhat-weary, we jump over to the south side of the coverage area for a look at 2A-4. Honestly, I should do much better here than I did with 2A-3. Only six teams with a LOT of looks at one another, almost all of which I had in the form of results and records. If I didn’t do well here, it’s my own fault.

(Editor’s Note: Whose fault would it be if not yours? You write all the content!)

Argument with myself aside, let’s take a look at the Creekside District.

106 — My picks: Wynn 1, Samples 2, Martinson 3, Smith 4. How it turned out: I picked the wrong Nease 106. It was Mago instead, and Smith took care of business for third over him. Wynn-Samples came through as expected. Rocked on the top end, kind of sucked on the back end.

113 — My picks: Vara 1, Lucessi 2, Goodman 3, tossup between Bachman/Cordle/Giordano for 4. How it turned out: Not the way I picked it. Goodman beat Lucessi in OT and then Vara in a wild 15-12 final. Could he have read the picks and gotten motivated? All signs point to definitely maybe. Cordle fought his way out of the mix for fourth. It looked like he wanted it the most. That’s usually the biggest key in tossups. Kind of a sucky pick.

120 — My picks: Nease 1 (so Heinrich 1), Matanzas 2 (so Samples 2), Allala 3, Ponte Vedra/R. Hicks 4. How it turned out: Matanzas wound up taking it to Nease, Hicks took it to Allala with perhaps his finest match of the season in the consi semis, and my picks were pretty much left in a shambles by Race Track Road. Sucking major wind there.

126 — My picks: I waffled all over the place on this one. I noted Tyer majored Norton during the season. That wound up being the final, but much closer this go-round, as is to be expected. Norton beat Scott, as I noted he had also at Terry Parker, in the semis, and so came back for third. So I was pretty much in the hunt. The one thing I was certain about, I should have been the least certain about, as Malik Hicks didn’t wrestle at all. This was a meh pick due to the waffling.

132 — I mentioned Gilbert and Magnuson first, and both wound up winning titles. That rocked. But Magnuson won his at 138, not here. Can I just say that a lot of coaches in this district seemed to have very fluid lineups this year? Not all. But a lot. As it turned out, Gilbert 1, McMillan 2, Womack 3, Koike 4. Gilbert and McMillan were the surest to be at 32. Kind of a meh-ish to sucky pick, but if I’d been pinned down I would have said Gilbert and he won. So that’s good.

138 — This district was so fluid, I couldn’t count on one of the five state-ranked kids to even appear at the event. But I had the right school winning with Matanzas over Baker, who I did get right for second. Thought Nease would have Koike or Perez here, Koike was at 32 and Perez didn’t compete. That opened the door for my 4 pick, Miller, to jump up to 3. Kind of ballparkish rocking, ballparkish sucking at this one.

145 — Hey! I can get a district champion right in 2A-4! Thanks Jared! It was pretty murky after that. My “slight edge” for 2 wound up 4th, and guys I thought were in the 3-6 mix wound up 2 and 3. So while the title pick was right, it was a mixed bag the rest of the way.

152 — Hot streak guys. That’s two in a row now, as my picks were Peaks 1, de la Cruz 2, and then I thought Creekside and Bartram going for 3-4. Zach Tillman had other ideas, and made the final. That slid de la Cruz down to 3, and the fourth was Conor Griffin, who — if he hadn’t been out most of January — would have factored heavier into my plans. Good pick at the top, messy from 2-4. Kind of a theme for this district’s projections.

160 — Oh golly, I started getting hot at the top, with my third straight correct pick. I called a strong battle between Swain and Wilson for 2, and it was, with Wilson winning 8-6. St. Augustine’s Stacy Murray also suited up here, which was a bit unexpected, and overcame Swain for third. Good pick at the top, messy from 2-4. Maybe if I repeat this often enough, it will stop becoming true.

170 — See? A writer’s repetition of a conclusion will inevitably render it becoming false. Nailed the top three picks and had Geiger, the fourth, in the mix for fourth. Rocked this one. Bout time.

182 — My picks were Beaulieu 1, Castanheira 2, Alexanian 3 and Not Exactly Sure About St. Augustine 4. That’s how it turned out exactly, as Xavier Jones weighed in 82 for the Yellow Jackets and took fourth. Rocked that one.

195 — I hoped that Fischer would find his solid early-season form, but wasn’t sure. I could have been surer, as he did rally for the title, with Dennis 2 and Good 3 — had the right guys in the top 3. I had Bennar and Johnson battling it out for fourth, and that got settled in the quarters with Johnson’s quick fall. Didn’t expect to see Courtney Johnson all the way up at 195, though. Pick mostly rocked. Maybe I’m salvaging something at the top.

220 — My picks were Lopez 1 and an even battle for 2-4. Instead of Steinhour, Bartram Trail’s Matt Mechley joined the fray, but that wouldn’t have changed my decision. Torres forged his way. Somewhat rocked this pick, at least Lopez took care of his business.

285 — My picks were Eubanks 1, Bartram Trail 2, Moseley 3, Montroy 4. That is how it turned out, with Lynch returning to the lineup ahead of Stetson football-bound Travis Keller (props to him on that). So that pick rocked. If I were writing another unsung heroes column, I would have to add St. Augustine’s Brandon Ruiz to that column. You have to hand it to the guy. I have tracked Yellow Jacket results all season, and every loss he has had has been by fall. And yet he stuck it out through districts. That’s dedication. That’s wrestling for you.

To sum up:

Picks that rocked: 7 1/2

Picks that sucked: 5

Picks that…meh:  1 1/2

New heroes: 1

We’ll move into 1A next. Just 90 minutes until go time at 12 regionals around the state!

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Late Run Catapults Creekside To Tie For 2A-4 DIstrict Title

Northeast Florida Matmen staff report

ST JOHNS — Richard Marabell will take a tie, given what his Creekside wrestling team had to overcome Saturday.

With team members trying to push through to next week’s 2A-Region 1 tournament at Tallahassee Chiles while battling the flu, the short-handed Knights found themselves behind the eight-ball even before getting a strong push from Matanzas.

But after closing out the final four weight classes with back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships from 182 through 285, Creekside was able to forge a tie for the District 4 championship with the Pirates in the Knights’ home gym, as both teams finished with 182 points.

“I’m very proud of my kids,” Marabell said of the effort, which resulted in the school’s first district title for wrestling. “We had two that fell out early, both trying to compete while battling the flu, but the rest of the team stepped up.

“We had a 15-point deficit in the championship round, and my boys closed the gap.”

The Knights picked up titles in half of the weight classes, advancing 10 wrestlers to region, which begins Friday afternoon.

Austin Wynn got the ball rolling for the Knights with a one-sided 15-3 major decision over Matanzas’ Rocky Samples after winning his first match by fall.

At 126, David Tyer continued a stunning second-half run for Creekside, decisioning Ponte Vedra’s Matt Norton 8-7 for the title there. At 145, Jared Langdo returned to the mats for the first time in more than a month, decisioning Justin Gross of St. Augustine, 3-1, for the Knights’ third title.

But Creekside’s run to a tie only was possible by the Knights’ sweep of the four most upper-weights, three of those wins coming over Matanzas wrestlers.

Kicking off that run was Jeremy Beaulieu at 182, decisioning the Pirates’ Jordin Castanheira by a 3-2 score after an earlier decision got him to the finals.

Gus Fischer then topped top seed Maverick Dennis, 8-4, to win at 195. Like Beaulieu, Fischer won an earlier match to reach the title. At 220, Rafael Lopez used two first-period falls to bring home his championship.

At 285, Cole Eubanks moved the Knights into a tie for the title, with a first-period fall over Bartram Trail’s William Lynch.

The Pirates had four titles on the day from Carter Goodman (113), Chad Samples (120), Troy Magnuson (138) and Clayton Dennis (170) to earn their tie, as Matanzas qualified 13 of its wrestlers — all of those it brought to Creekside Saturday — for region.

Behind a title from Dayton Gilbert at 132, St. Augustine finished third in the six-team meet with 126 points. Gilbert decisioned Bartram Trail’s Matt McMillan, 5-3, for the Yellow Jackets’ lone victory. St. Augustine qualified 10 out.

The Bears finished fourth, with 97 points and eight qualifiers, while Nease was fifth with eight qualifiers, 90 points and one champion in 160-pound Tristan Barth. Barth pinned John Wilson of Bartram Trail in 3:51.

Ponte Vedra was sixth with 77 points, six qualifiers and one champion, as Colin Peaks was the 152-pound champion, decisioning Bartram Trail’s Zach Tillman, 4-2.

A complete list of region qualifiers has been published elsewhere on the home page of the site. Region pairings will be published when they become available.

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2A – District 4 Preview

2A-4 meet preview
(Editor’s Note: Switched 138 and 145 slightly, keeping the text the same but moving Creekside wrestlers into correct spots; Second Editor’s Note: Updated to reflect new Scout rankings released today).

When & where: Per FHSAA website, wrestling starts at Creekside Saturday at 11 a.m., with finals expected to start immediately after preliminary competition is completed (probably after the gym is cleared).

If you go: From either the south or north, take US-1 to Race Track Road and turn there (left if coming from the south, right if coming from the north). Follow Race Track for 5.1 miles to Veterans Parkway, turn left (it’s a sneaky one, particularly after dark). Go 1.8 miles to Longleaf Pine Parkway and turn left, the school will be just up and ahead on the right. From the parking lots, walk straight east toward the gym doors.

Teams in the field: Surprisingly, local #5 Creekside and Matanzas (which will be a @NEFloridaMatmen area team in 2014-15) haven’t dueled each other this season, so it is tricky to declare an out-and-out favorite. The Knights and Pirates have been in two tournaments together, both times with Creekside finishing slightly ahead. Creekside was 6th at Clay and Matanzas was 8th, while at Palm Coast the Knights were 21st and Pirates 26th. I’m going to go edge Creekside, since they’re at home and they have shown a slightly-better tournament side while being a really good dual team. But, hey, , anything can happen. When Pirate faced Knight on Deadliest Warrior a few years ago, the computer simulation gave it to Pirate. My three younger sons and I are still mad about that one (but oldest was not, however; I digress). I would have thought Nease might have been the third, but it will depend on which Panther team shows up. The one that showed for Terry Parker, yes. The one at Orange Park, no. Bartram Trail, Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine should all get several through to regionals, what with (at most) only two wrestlers in each weight class having their seasons come to an end.

106 – Creekside junior Austin Wynn is one of just five wrestlers in this tournament who has a state ranking per Scout (#3 in last local poll, 10th statewide), and he’s got to be considered the favorite. He has seven losses, but none are 2A wrestlers at 106, and only one to a 2A wrestler at all. I’d probably put, based on the results, Matanzas’ Rocky Samples second. Wynn and Samples haven’t faced each other yet this year, and that could be an interesting final that sets the tone for the last round of the team race. The waters get murky at this point, mainly because Nease can run out one of three kids at 106. I am thinking the Panthers will send out Dylan Martinson here. Martinson has a win by fall over St. Augustine’s Kristopher Smith, who is the clear 4 in this scenario. Should Nease have Martinson come out at 113, then the likely 106 would be Aaron Mago, based on who’s wrestled more recently, and Smith has a win over Mago in hand. So the order could come down to which Nease 106 is entered. I see Smith as definitely ahead of Ponte Vedra’s John Fox, and Bartram Trail has had no 106 all year.

113 – Life officially becomes really interesting for a person interested in doing projections for this district, starting at this weight. No fewer than three of the six teams can run multiple options here. However, if the rule that every wrestler wants to wrestle down as far as possible is applied, then the favorite is going to be the one state-ranked wrestler in the weight class, St. Augustine sophomore Dustin Vara (last local ranking 4th, 15th statewide). Staying in the lineup during the regular season has been a little bit of an issue, but this is February we’re talking about. I’d put Vara at the top. If everybody plays it straight, I would look at Nease’s Tristen Lucessi (last local ranking 5th) as the runnerup. Vara and Lucessi haven’t met this year, as Lucessi’s three meetings were all against Ralph Hicks (more on him at 120). But. It is possible that Nease could throw out the 106 who isn’t slotted there (either Martinson or Mago) and move Lucessi up to 120. If that happens, I would be looking at Matanzas’ Carter Goodman as the runnerup, or third if Lucessi stays. Any of the rest of the bracket – Bartram Trail’s Kyle Bachman, Creekside’s Josh Cordle, Ponte Vedra’s Tony Giordano or the Nease 106 if Lucessi moves up – could be the fourth. I like Bachman best out of that group, today.

120 – OK, let’s start with what we know. We know Bartram Trail hasn’t had a 120 all season (at least not since late November), so that takes us down to five. Who might be a favorite here? I will take Nease at this weight, leaving aside the question of which Nease will actually be here. It’ll either be Lucessi, mentioned earlier, or Jared Heinrich (last local ranked 5th). They stand out above everyone else in the weight class, either one of them, so pencil in “Nease” as my choice at the top. 2-3 and 4-5 sort of slot together in a group. Right now, I would put in Matanzas and Creekside’s Timothy Allala in the 2-3 group. The Pirates will have either Blane Stefancik or (as they did early in the year) Chad Samples at this weight. No meeting there. I think those two are a step above Ponte Vedra and Ralph Hicks of St. Augustine (assuming that Vara stays at 113; if not, then adjust everybody else at 113 a step up and pencil in “St. Augustine” as my choice at the top here – see what I mean about life being interesting for a guy doing projections?). Ponte Vedra could have James Stanton, Risabh Bhandari or Jairo Hernandez here – all three have seen time at this weight.

126 – Does the uncertainty madness end? No. No, it doesn’t. There’s three wrestlers I like here to move on. That much, I think, I can count on – that those schools will move on at 26. I think the slightest of edges right now probably belongs to Tristan Kraus of Matanzas. Kraus hasn’t faced either Matt Norton of PV or Heinrich/Austin Scott of Nease. Norton has beaten Scott, did so at Terry Parker, and I would have probably looked at Norton as a possible champion if he hadn’t been majored last week by Creekside’s David Tyer. I would have looked at Tyer as a move-on probable; maybe he should be thought of in the finalist conversation as well. Heinrich hasn’t wrestled most of the 26s, but it’s possible he might need to on Saturday depending on that decision at 106/113. Norton should be here, but could also be at 132, with Marshall Frye here at this weight. I’d say that Malik Hicks of St. Augustine faces the most uphill battle getting out on Saturday. That might be the most certain I can be at this weight.

132 – This should be a pretty hard-fought draw. If Scott winds up here at 132, it’ll be a five-to-make-four situation; if not, the four who’ll make it out are pretty set, but not entirely certain as to order just as of yet. As of this minute, I have St. Augustine’s Dayton Gilbert and Matanzas’ Troy Magnuson a cut above Creekside’s Cesar Camacho and Bartram Trail’s Matt McMillan. Scott would really throw a wrinkle in here, but if it winds up with Henry Velasquez, I think Nease struggles to get out. I also think Ponte Vedra, whether it’s Frye or possibly Jackson McIntyre, would struggle. A worst-case scenario for two solid kids – great for the fans though – would be Gilbert, Magnuson, Camacho, McMillan, Scott and Norton all at this weight. All six of them should get to move on. Gilbert and Magnuson are 2-2 against each other and could face off a fifth time Saturday. Camacho barely hung on against McMillan at Bartram Trail duals, winning 3-2. Such a deep weight class.

138 — As of this writing, the third of the five ranked wrestlers is here — Matanzas’ Pedro Nieves — is here, and a solid favorite at the top here (9th statewide). I would look at Creekside’s Ryan Baker as the leading pick for second behind Nieves. Baker had a fantastic December and hit a bit of a lull in early January, but seems to have righted the ship and is back in December form now. This could be another good finals match between Matanzas and Creekside. Nease could put together a solid competitor here, too, between Dalton Koike and Johnny Perez, but Perez wasn’t in the lineup of late and Koike has been. He’s figured some things out since the season began, and now stands a solid chance of getting out. That leaves, with St. Augustine not having a 138 at the moment, either Ponte Vedra (either Frye or more likely McIntyre) or Bartram Trail’s Charlie Miller as the likely fourth. Conor Griffin, who had a nice start to the season at 145, could have helped the Yellow Jackets here (or at 45) but has been out of the lineup since early January.

145 — Even though he’s been out for more than a month, I have no issues with adding Creekside’s Jared Langdo — who was cleared late last week after a broken hand — into the top spot and certainly as a finalist. Langdo started the season ranked early in the year and might have stayed there but for the injury.With one exception (Nease, again), each team has one set wrestler in the lineup, and  I see Langdo taking the top spot in a field with no state-ranked wrestlers. On points, I’ll go with Matanzas’ Nathan Pooler as having a slight edge over the rest of the group, with no clear cut 3 and no clear cut 6. It should make for very entertaining first-round and back-end matches, as evenly-matched wrestlers fight to keep their seasons going. St. Augustine’s Justin Gross, Ponte Vedra’s Zach Gregory, the Nease combo of Perez/Bruce Thigpen/Steven Angle and Bartram Trail’s Andy Plish. Gregory also got off to a slow start, as did Koike at 132/138, but has closed with much better form, and Gross has been solid in the middle for the Yellow Jackets.

152 — You might hope as the weights creep upward that the adjusting would settle itself out, but in 2A-4 that would not be the case, as fully three teams have a pair of guys that they could throw in and go. Though he wasn’t in the lineup for the Sharks at the Orange Park 10-Way Duals, I would look at Ponte Vedra’s Colin Peaks as the favorite at this weight. Peaks, the local #3, has been state-ranked during the course of the year and been solid throughout the season — with a couple of missed appearances. He should be there Saturday. Peaks had a late fall over Matanzas’ Eddy De La Cruz early in the season, and it would be De La Cruz who — I think — is most likely to reach the final with Peaks. Like at 145, I could definitely see the entire group fighting for the remaining two spots. Creekside could throw in either Steven Stanton or Mateo Villa at this weight, with Bartram Trail’s Zach Tillman the likely Bears’ choice. The combo of Stacy Murray and Travis Toole should fill this weight for St. Augustine, with Angle or Thigpen going here for Nease. Truly a tossup when it comes to third and fourth.

160 — Nease’s Tristan Barth gets his first and only shot at a Florida postseason tournament starting this weekend, and the Panther senior (5th locally as of now, 10th statewide) would be considered a iikely if not overwhelming favorite to win here, were it not for one thing. St. Augustine’s Will Rinchiusa — perhaps in an effort to find some good competition — did have one match at this weight at Orange Park, and if Rinchiusa is here he might be more than a match for Barth. I tend to think he won’t be here, but at 170 instead, but one never knows. So if that’s the case, then look for Toole to suit up at 160 for the Yellow Jackets. The runnerup spot might be a strong battle between Ponte Vedra’s Michael Swain and Bartram Trail’s John Wilson — I’d know more about how that would play out if I had their dual, but alas… at any rate, Creekside isn’t going away here, either, as either Willy Lulias or David Cline are also more than capable of making a top-four run as well. It’s possible De La Cruz could be up here, but if not, I’m not sure who will go for Matanzas.

170 — It’d be worth being here for this final, as I would expect, between Rinchiusa, who has been state-ranked during the course of the year, and Matanzas’ Clayton Dennis, who is ranked 6th statewide. The pair have seen each other three times already this season, with Dennis winning the first and third and Rinchiusa winning the middle match. This should be a heckuva final, should both stay as (this writer) believes they probably will. Should everybody play 170 straight, I would expect Creekside’s Dakota Cody to be the third here over Bartram’s Joseph Guthrie, Ponte Vedra’s Frankie Norton and Nease’s Jason Geiger, although if either Swain or Barth is up here (not likely for the latter, possible for the former) that could complicate things. Surely things will start to settle out with just four weights to go. Right?

182 — Somewhat right. Both St. Augustine and Nease could go one of two ways at 182 and 195, as they have a pair of wrestlers (Hunter Collis & Xavier Jones for the Yellow Jackets, Cristian Bennar and Christopher Anderson for the Panthers) who could go at either weight. The other three teams fielding 182s — Ponte Vedra has not had a 182 this year — should be fairly set. I’m thinking that Creekside’s Jeremy Beaulieu should be the favorite at this weight, ahead of both Matanzas’ Jordin Castanheira and Bartram Trail’s Brandon Alexanian, who have been established starters all season. I think you’ll see Beaulieu and Castanheira battling for the title. I’m not exactly sure how St. Augustine and Nease will play these two weights. It will be some interesting strategy, that’s for sure.

195 — Expect the St. Augustine and Nease combos (the other half not at 182) to be here and fighting for one spot to make it out, as Ponte Vedra does not have a 195 and the other three spots look to be well-filled between favorite Maverick Dennis of Matanzas and solid challengers Hayden Good of Bartram Trail and Gus Fischer of Creekside. I would expect Dennis, Good and Fischer to go 1-3, with St. Augustine and Nease battling it out for the fourth spot. I am curious to see if Good — who joined the team late after being part of the Bears’ stellar football run in the fall — can make it to the finals and then perhaps give Dennis a challenge there. He’s been impressive for only getting half a season. Fischer was very solid early on, and hopefully can find that form for the post-season.

220 — At long last, some certainty — maybe. Mostly. As of this writing, there are only four certain competitors that should be competing on Saturday. Bartram Trail hasn’t had a 220 for awhile after only competing in a couple of dual meets earlier in December and January, and St. Augustine hasn’t had a 220 for quite some time, either. Should those situations continue to be the case, the four known wrestlers — Creekside’s Rafael Lopez, Matanzas’ Gregorio Torres, Nease’s Michael Steinhour and Ponte Vedra’s Matt Arnett — won’t have to worry about making it out, but only for seeding purposes. I would see Lopez as the heavy favorite in that event, whether there are four wrestlers or six during the course of the year, with the other three pitching an evenly-matched battle for the remaining seeds.

285 — No combos or uncertainties. Mostly. I would put Creekside’s Cole Eubanks as the heavy favorite to win the weight class. Bartram Trail’s Travis Keller should be the #2 after also joining the team late due to football needs, though the season starter at 285, William Lynch, did make an appearance at the Bears’ duals tournament. Matanzas’ Jessy Moseley looks to be ahead of Ponte Vedra’s Taylor Montroy for third, from the look of the late results.

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A Little Kiwanis Preview

Teams have already assembled or are assembling at Bishop Snyder. Here’s a quick little summary:

Teams in the field: Atlantic Coast, Bartram Trail, Bishop Snyder, Bolles, Brunswick GA, Buchholz, Creekside, First Coast, Fleming Island, Fletcher, Mandarin, Menendez, Middleburg, Ponte Vedra, Ridgeview, Yulee.

Ranked wrestlers in the field: There are 30 ranked wrestlers just in the @NEFloridaMatmen poll, plus several others from Brunswick and Buchholz that are of that level of quality. There are an additional 30 wrestlers who are honorable mention listers.

By weight class…

106 — #4 Austin Wynn, Creekside; #5 Joseph Cooper, Fleming Island.

113 — #1 Chase Robison, Fleming Island; #2 Jeremiah Watson, Ridgeview; #5 Joshua Harris, Mandarin.

120 — #1 Xaiver Sampsel, Fleming Island; #5 Brandon Bemister, Atlantic Coast; HM Justin Trinh, Ridgeview.

126 — #1 Evan McCall, Fleming Island; #2 Michael Brown, Menendez; HM Nacierre Williams, Atlantic Coast; HM Trevor Belden, Ridgeview; HM Matt Norton, Ponte Vedra.

132 — #1 Charles Cuthbert, Fleming Island; #4 Joey Epstein, Ridgeview; #5 Josh Calhoun, Bolles; HM Ollie Dixon, Atlantic Coast; HM Cal Rodgers, Fletcher (the de facto 6 and 7, if rankings went that deep).

138 — #1 David Detwiler, Fleming Island; #4 Joshua Sweeten, Fletcher; #5 Ryan Baker, Creekside; HM Jonathan Radomski, Bishop Snyder; HM Mark Coaxum, Ridgeview.

145 — #3 John Martorano, Fleming Island; #4 Jared Langdo, Creekside; HM Connor Cronk, Bolles; HM Ectrus Barber, Atlantic Coast.

152 — #2 Colin Peaks, Ponte Vedra; #3 Rodney Padgett, Menendez; #4 Bradshaw Steele, Bolles; HM Dillon May, Atlantic Coast; HM Jason Davis, Fleming Island; HM Kody Kellum, Bishop Snyder; HM Noah Perez, Mandarin.

160 — HM Jerome Abbott, Fleming Island; HM David Cline, Creekside; HM Nathaniel Cleland, Bishop Snyder; HM Marcus Gomez, Ridgeview; HM John Perrone, Mandarin.

170 — #2 Heath Whiddon, Fleming Island; #4 Richard Gagnon, Mandarin; #5 Brandon Dattoli, Bolles; HM Triston Ulrich, Atlantic Coast; HM Skylor Coxon, Fletcher.

182 — #1 Samuel Hernandez, Mandarin; #2 Brandon Marshall, Bishop Snyder; #3 Austin Smenda, Fleming Island; #4 Jeremy Beaulieu, Creekside.

195 — #1 Peter Martorano, Fleming Island; #2 Nathan Morales, Bishop Snyder; #3 Garrett Fairbanks, Menendez; HM Mike Gant, Atlantic Coast (might be at 182); HM Gus Fischer, Creekside; HM Brandon Alexanian, Bartram Trail; HM Tanner Hagerty, Fletcher; HM Stefano Devoto, Fletcher.

220 — HM Nicholas Cleland, Bishop Snyder; HM Rafael Lopez, Creekside.

285 — #2 Malcolm Kirce, Ridgeview; HM Codie Miller, Mandarin; HM Christian DeLosSantos, Bishop Snyder.

Four potential 1-2 matchups at a tournament not having the word “Clay” in the title…that’s pretty killer. I myself will be watching these semis very closely on Saturday. I hope to be able to post first-day brackets later tonight!

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December 11 Roundup Story

For the time being, Yulee is the king of Nassau County prep wrestling.

The Hornets staked their claim to the throne in a pair of duals Wednesday night at home against fellow county rivals Fernandina Beach and West Nassau, defeating the Pirates 42-36 and Warriors 39-33, in their first dual meets in the area for 2013-14.

In the third dual, West Nassau edged Fernandina by a 39-37 count.

Against West Nassau, Yulee got falls from Dylan Youmans (106), John Parker (113), Timothy Worthen (138), RJ Adams (170), Duna Polard (195) and Nick Parker (220) to secure the win, plus an overtime decision from Ty Youmans at 120.

West Nassau received a pair of victories on the night from Jacob Savage (132, two pins), John Forehand (145, two pins), #1 Michael Dudzinski at 160 (pin & decision) and Jackson Moyle (285, 2 pins).

In results reported for Fernandina, Rafael Charriez (106), Jesse Henn (152), Matthew Schuyler (170) and Wyatt Roach (195) had falls for the Pirates over West Nassau.

In other dual meets Wednesday night:

#8 Ridgeview 59, Ponte Vedra 6: The Panthers dominated affairs at home, with five pins in the middle weights from Justin Trinh (120), #4 Joey Epstein (132), Mark Coaxum (138), Chase Gold (145) and Marcus Gomez (160), plus a tech fall at 113 from #2 Jeremiah Watson. Jack Fox (106) won by fall for the Sharks’ lone points.

Palm Coast 50, #10 Creekside 22: 3A regional power Palm Coast had seven pins over Knight wrestlers in securing the home dual victory. For Creekside, Rafael Lopez (220) and Cole Eubanks (285) each had falls, with #4 (at 106) Austin Wynn (wrestling Wednesday at 113) taking a major decision.

Providence double dual: Episcopal continued its winning ways after a slow start to the season, adding two more wins at its in-town rival, as the Eagles defeated the host Stallions 42-30 and Andrew Jackson 48-30.

The third dual saw the matchups go the Tigers’ way in a 36-6 victory, Jackson’s first of the season, as reported by Jackson coach Joe Warren.

Episcopal had four double winners in Connor Evans (120), Christian Rickey (138), Peter Pitochi (145) and Hunter Selton (152), while Andrew Jackson equaled the feat with Daisan Biffle (126), Demonta Bell (160), Tracy Russell (170) and Kenyon Johnson (182) all winning twice. Max Cobb (220/285) was Providence’s lone double winner.

Pedro Menendez 39, Bartram Trail 27: The Falcons’ third-ranked wrestler at 152, Rodney Padgett, secured the victory for Menendez with a third-period fall in the last match of the nigh, wrapping up the road dual victory. #2 (at 126) Michael Brown (wrestling at 132), Jonathan Samples (160), #3 Garrett Fairbanks (195) and William Gwin (285) all had falls for Menendez. Bartram got pins from Kyle Bachman (113) and Andy Plish (145).

Bishop Kenny 54, Bolles 15: Pins from Jonathan Chiotti (132) and #1 Kuba Kaszuba (170), plus a host of forfeits against a still short-handed Bolles side, pushed the Crusaders to the road dual victory. #5 (at 132) Josh Calhoun (wrestling at 138) and Michael Surenyan (152) had pins for the Bulldogs.

FSDB 60, Interlachen 15: The Dragons improved to 2-0 in duals behind pins from Wesley Homewood (182) and Imed Touahri (220), plus eight forfeit victories. Homewood needed just 51 seconds for his fall, while Touahri finished his off in 1:47. The dual was unique in that it was a mid-afternoon contest at Interlachen, with the entire student body in attendance.

Other results: Unofficially, @NEFloridaMatmen received word that St. Augustine and Nease were tied at 42-all, with the Yellow Jackets getting the victory, presumably in criteria. Neither of the Yellow Jackets’ or Panthers’ head coaches confirmed the result at press time. There was no report from Wednesday’s dual at Baker County matching the Wildcats against #7 Ed White.

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Ed White Commands Field for Optimist Title

By Shannon Heaton, Northeast Florida Matmen

It might be easy for a younger coach like Ed White’s Jaylen Lee to simply point to his own high school wrestling accomplishments and say to his charges, “Do it like I did it.”

That is the last thing on Lee’s mind, and that might be the first reason why the Commanders are quickly establishing themselves as a Gateway Conference team to worry about in 2013-14.

They were certainly a team to worry about this weekend, as Ed White brought home two individual titles and 10 medals to carry away top honors at Terry Parker’s annual two-day Optimist Invitational, outpointing #6 Ridgeview 228.5-196.

“Now that I’m coaching, I don’t go back on my past,” Lee said of his career, which included a state runnerup effort for Ed White in 2010. “We’re only focusing on how to get them better, how to make them better each and every day. As they progress, they will win more matches. I came in trying hard to have that mindset in them first. You can’t be weak. You’ve got to come out, dominate, and just bring it every day. They’ve listened, and done everything I’ve said.”

Although there were only three Commander wins in the final round of wrestling, two of them were for titles, as Roderick Evans (106) and Armond Holmes (126) walked away with Optimist Invitational brackets representing a team that was dead last out of eight teams a year ago in post-season competition.

“We are like a family; we keep each others’ heads in the game,” Holmes said of the team atmosphere that Lee has built in his first season coaching the Commanders. “When we first came here (to the tournament), We knew it would be a tough competition, and it was. But Coach has things under control, and each one of the guys on our team picks the spirits up of everyone else. It really helps us out. We have a lot of freshmen on this team, and they have picked things up right away. We’re good learners and we have a good coach.”

Ridgeview wasn’t the only challenger the Commanders faced in the team chase, but the Panthers were the most successful one. With titles from Jeremiah Watson (113) and Joey Epstein (126), Ridgeview was able to edge out Sandalwood 196-183.5 for the runnerup spot.

“At the moment, we’re exceeding our expectations,” Panthers assistant coach Zeth Nolda said. “As a whole, though, we’re not satisfied. We’re a very young team, on the whole, but we’re trying to get everyone on the rise. THe kids wrestled well today, and we did a great job. It’s a great start to our season (combined with Ridgeview’s third-place duals effort at Fleming Island on November 23).”

10 different schools had at least one champion on the weekend, with fourth-place Atlantic Coast collecting the most titles (three, en route to 173.5 points). Baker County was fifth at 133, with the tournament-host Braves sixth at 118 and West Nassau seventh at 116.

Ponte Vedra finished with eighth with 83 points, followed by Englewood (63.5), Duval Charter (61), Wolfson (59), Paxon (50) and Providence (45), respectively.

Here’s an individual weight-class title snapshot:

106 — Ed White’s Evans had three pins, all in the first period, including one in 1 minute, 58 seconds over Duval Charter’s Andrew Slade in the final.

113 — After two pins got Watson to the final, he shut down Sandalwood’s Alex Barie completely, controlling tempo and offense en route to a 5-0 decision for the championship.

120 — Atlantic Coast’s Brandon Bemister needed a little time to get his sea legs against Ed White’s Chase Calloway, but wound up with a quick fall just 17 seconds into the second period. Bemister had two pins and a technical fall on his way to the title.

126 — Holmes jumped out to an early lead and held on to turn back Ridgeview’s Trevor Belden, 10-6, in the final, after collecting two pins to get there.

132 — Best match of the tournament between Epstein and Atlantic Coast’s Ollie Dixon, both of whom briefly looked like they might end it via fall much earlier. It took overtime, and an Epstein takedown, to secure the win, which left him spent and gasping for air on the Terry Parker floor after the match.

138 — Englewood’s Kevin Herrera was a couple of tenths over at 132, so moved up and and dominated at 138, with two pins and a very easy-looking technical fall over Ed White’s Darien Tucker, which ended just a few seconds into the third period with Herrera up, 19-2.

145 — Nikeem Burns of Sandalwood brought home the Saints’ lone title with a second-period fall over Chase Gold of Ridgeview after trailing early. Burns had two falls earlier in the tournament as well.

152 — Second sudden-victory final, this time between Ponte Vedra’s Colin Peaks and Dillon May of Atlantic Coast. In the extra time, Peaks took advantage of a poor shot by May to secure the takedown and title.

160 — West Nassau’s Michael Dudzinski wasn’t seriously tested this weekend, bagging two pins and forcing the action in the final, an 11-3 major-decision win over Ridgeview’s Marcus Gomez.

170 — Atlantic Coast’s Triston Ulrich had two quick pins to bring home the Stingrays’ second title, needing just 1:29 to deck Sergio Jordan of Ed White in the final.

182 — Baker County’s Sean Mulkey took it to Dominick Maldonado right from the first whistle, picking up the fall in 52 seconds. Mulkey had two pins and a forfeit victory on the weekend.

195 — The Stingrays got title #3 from Mike Gant, who only needed 28 seconds to deck Ed White’s Atyrus McDowell in the title match. Gant had three first-period falls on the weekend.

220 — The hosts got their lone individual championship here, as the Braves’ Kerry Hardine — who earlier had the fastest pin of the season anywhere in the @NEFloridaMatmen area (6 seconds, in the quarterfinals) — pinned Baker County’s James Carter in 1:26. Hardine had three falls, all in the first period.

285 — With overwhelming favorite Malcolm Kirce of Ridgeview away for a football scholarship interview Saturday, the field opened up for Wolfson’s DeAngeles Harris, and he didn’t hesitate, taking advantage of the forfeit he received in the semis with a fall over Baker County’s Collyn Green in 1:56.

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December 4 Roundup Story

Fletcher has been the top program in the Gateway Conference for quite some time now.

And, while Senators coach Roy Fallon has sought out, right from the start of the 2013-14 season, some of the area’s best competition to toughen up his team, the rest of the Gateway seems to want to be on the move for the top, too.

Take Wednesday night’s quadrangular meet at Forrest — scheduled to be a five-team event, but Paxon arrived with a team but no weigh-in sheet.

THe #10 Rebels, themselves coming off a solid fourth-place finish at Fleming Island’s Keystone Duals, were poised to run the table at home, but another Gateway squad also wanted a slice of the pie that made for a 3-way tie Wednesday night.

In the second of three rounds of wrestling, Atlantic Coast — which had been off for nearly 3 weeks after a sluggish 0-3 start at Fletcher back in mid-November — took down the Rebels, 38-33, after falling earlier to Baker County, 42-32.

Then, in the final round, Forrest rallied, breaking a 24-24 tie with three pins and two forfeits to defeat Baker County, 54-30.

With all three of the round-robin winners taking wins over Englewood, that meant all three teams finished 2-1 on the night.

Triple winners for Forrest were Isaiah Golson (170/82), Malik Brown (195) and Kahlil Welsh (285). For Baker County, Logan Kish (138) and James Carter (220) each won three times.

Atlantic Coast was energized by the first appearance this season from Ollie Dixon, who began the season ranked in Class 3A. Dixon (132) was 3-0 for the Stingrays, as was Brandon Bemister (120), Nacierre Williams (126), Ectrus Barber (145) and Dillon May (152).

Englewood had just one triple winner in 113-pound Archie Brown.

#8 Creekside 48, Bishop Kenny 18: Behind falls from Joshua Cordle (113), Ryan Baker (138), Jared Langdo (145), David Cline (160) and Gus Fischer (195), the Knights won their home opener against a short-handed Crusader team, which had four weights open.

Middleburg 44, #9 St. Augustine 31: The hosts showed the form that had them listed as a preseason honorable mention pick, with falls from Tristan Tollison (138), Travis Neubeck (145), J.T. Davie (160), Jonathan Shoen (195) and Ammon Meeks (285) fueling the victory.

Wolfson opens season 2-0: The Warriors got double wins from Richard Tran (113), Charles Kessinger (126), Joshua Cade (132) and Rafeal Leon (195) in taking wins over Lee (42-30) and Stanton (48-24).

Ponte Vedra 42, Bartram Trail 39: The Sharks were able to pick up three pins to the Bears’ two in the six contested matches, with Zach Gregory (145), Colin Peaks (152) and Michael Swain (170) providing the difference for Ponte Vedra with their falls.

Florida Deaf & Blind 59, Providence 18: Five falls and a technical fall got FSDB out to a strong start in its home and season-opener, as Diego Garcia (106), John Tessar (113), Marcus Maldonado (138), Kyle McCreath (152) and Wesley Homewood (182) had pins and Chasien Taylor (145) picked up a tech fall.

Thursday action cancelled: The scheduled dual between Raines and First Coast was cancelled, according to Raines school personnel Thursday evening. No make-up date was known at press time.

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November 20 Roundup Story

First-year coaches can often struggle to create a good fit with their new charges in any sport.

But after building a Stanton wrestling team that was solid enough to finish second in Class 2A District 2 a year ago, John Evans has taken his plan to Mandarin, and the results are paying off for the Mustangs.

Wednesday night, Northeast Florida Matmen honorable mention listed-Mandarin swept to convincing victories in its home opener, turning the spotlight on Lee and Englewood with 66-12 and 63-12 dual wins, respectively.

Eight Mustang wrestlers were double winners on the night, with Joshua Harris (113), Chase Mattox (120), Ian Winton (126), John Perrone (160), Samuel Hernandez (182) and Codie Miller (285) all recording two falls. Richard Gagnon (170) had one pin and one technical fall, while Camilo Calderon (138, in his first varsity matches) had one pin and one forfeit for Mandarin (7-3).

Englewood (3-2) opened the night with a 48-24 victory over Lee before running into the Mustang buzzsaw later. The Rams had two double winners on the evening, as Kevin Herrera (132) and Eric Hill (220) each had two pins.

Lee got its season underway Wednesday night, with Tony Belle (152) as the Generals’ lone unbeaten wrestler. Belle had a pair of pins on the night.

Bishop Kenny 54, Ponte Vedra 12: A second dose of home cooking proved as good as the first for the NEFLM HM-listed Crusaders, who improved to 7-1 with the victory.

Ryan Timmons (106), Christian Barakat (120), Nick Toney (132), Logan Bote (145) and Kuba Kaszuba (170) all recorded pins for Bishop Kenny, which also secured four additional forfeit victories against a shorter-handed Sharks side.

Ponte Vedra (1-7) did pick up falls from Anthony Giordano (113) and Colin Peaks (152) for its dual points.

Next Level note: Speaking of Ponte Vedra, Sharks coach Mike Ostlund noted earlier this week that Class of 2013 team member Frank Giordano is still practicing with Bacone College (Okla.) after getting hurt during wrestleoffs.

Also, Iowa Western CC first-year wrestler Jamarius Jackson (Ridgeview ’13) has yet to appear for the Reivers after not cracking the lineup in Iowa Western’s 25-15 victory over Iowa Lakes CC Wednesday night.

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Next Level Note 10/29

The @NEFloridaMatmen area will have at least two wrestlers starting at the collegiate level later on this fall.

We learned a few days back about Washington & Lee senior Daniel Igel (Bolles ’10), who’ll be a co-captain for the Generals in his senior season at W&L. That was our first area college starter news.

However, on Monday, I received a message via Twitter that 2013 Creekside state champion Shane Carpenter will be Coker University’s starting 184-pounder when the Cobras travel to Charleston for The Citadel’s open tournament on Saturday. Carpenter defeated Joseph Holland, a freshman from South Carolina, for the spot.

A few other notes from around the area:

  • Robert Parland (University Christian ’13) is 1-1 in his wrestleoff at 197 pounds for Coker, going up against junior transfer Alex Green, who dropped down from 285 to contend for the spot at 197. I expect a tiebreaker match soon, given Coker’s first competition on Saturday. I have reached out to Coker’s SID (sports information director) for more information from last weekend’s Blue & Gold meet.
  • Kyle McClinton (Middleburg ’13) will be the backup at 141 pounds for Hannibal-LaGrange University, an NAIA program in Missouri. McClinton will be the #2 behind HLGU sophomore Caleb Shuck. The Trojans will face Illinois State University’s club program for their season opener on Saturday.
  • Freshmen Coll Robertson (Ridgeview ’13) and Frank Giordano (Ponte Vedra ’13) will go through wrestleoffs this week. Robertson let me know on Twitter that his wrestleoff at North Central College (IL), a Division III program, is scheduled for Saturday, while the website for Giordano’s school, Bacone (Okla.), also an NAIA program, indicated that intrasquad competition is set for Wednesday evening. Bacone’s competitive season begins on Sunday at the Baker/OCU Open.
  • Indiana Tech freshman Ben Galloway (Fleming Island ’13) went through an intrasquad meet Thursday night according to that wrestling team’s Twitter account; I do know that NAIA-level program will begin competition Saturday at the Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio) Open, so Galloway should see some mat time.
  • Also, no new word on either Edinboro freshman Victor Espana (Fleming Island ’13) or Ohio State sophomore Josh Fox (University Christian ’12) at the Division I level. I would expect Fox to get some mat time on Sunday at the Clarion (PA) Open.
  • Lastly, I have no updates on either Jamarius Jackson (Ridgeview ’13) or Cody Hankerson (University Christian ’13) competing in Iowa. Jackson is at Iowa Western, which opens competition on November 9, and Hankerson had signed with Morningside, which begins on November 15, but as of now does not appear on its roster.