RICHMOND HILL, Ga. – Fleming Island High wrestling ventured north for a first-time visit to Richmond Hill High School near Savannah and came home with a dominant tournament win at the St. Nick Invitational that pitted the Golden Eagles against a less-than-friendly gym filled with wrestlers from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
“We want to see other guys and learn from different styles,” said Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert. “We are okay with being the only Florida school here and having the gym cheering against us. We just focus on the job at hand and leave with the trophy.”
In team points, Fleming Island pulled away from a close chase from Richmond Hill during the championship rounds to put up 305.5 points to Richmond Hill’s 275.0. Toombs County was third with a distant 156.5. With the addition of football players Jalyn Robinson, Ryan Smenda and Jose Concepcion, Cobbert shored up his heavier weight classes with seasoned veterans while, in the lower weights, at 106, Lou Gagliardo stayed unbeaten (19-0) with a pin over teammate Hunter Herrington who advanced opposite Gagliardo in their bracket to get to the championship round together.
Fleming Island’s second of three previously unbeaten wrestlers, Jaquan English at 132, lost by pin to unbeaten Toombs County 120 pound state champion Ricardo Santana (33-0, 49-2 last year) with just three seconds left in his match.
At 170, still unbeaten senior Paul Detwiler, named the most outstanding wrestler of the tournament, rifled through his prelims with pins, but found Billy Christie of Hilton Head High School a bit more feisty and had to settle for a 9-1 major decision. Detwiler (23-0) had pinned all of his previous opponents in the first period. Christie, twice a South Carolina state champion at 182 and 170, was 25-1 prior to the match.
Also winning individual titles were Briar Jackson at 113; Jacob Sandoval at 126 and Smenda at 220 over Effingham County state qualifier Zekeil Walls..
Runner-up medals went to Jose Concepcion at 285 who faced off with Toombs County state placer Rolando Tinoco (28-0, 30-17 last year) and got pinned.
At 182, Jeffrey Lascano won a four-overtime semifinal match to advance, before losing 8-7 to Kevin Murry of Richmond Hill in the final. Murry was fifth at 170 last year in Georgia.
At 152 and 160, Luke Chop and Trace Insalaco both lost to Richmond Hill wrestlers; brother Jakeem and Akeem Littles who were state placers last year. Tyler Williams, at 138, executing the best move of the day with a Granby escape roll with 2.5 seconds remaining to tie Rakeem Littles of Richmond Hills, but was unable to hold the score before losing 6-5 in overtime.
Robinson finished third losing a 4-0 semifinal decision to Effingham County’s Zebrandon Gant, the state runner-up last year.