LONGWOOD – With seven finalists and two individual champions, including the best lightweight wrestler of the night, the Fleming Island High School wrestling team returned to …
LONGWOOD – With seven finalists and two individual champions, including the best lightweight wrestler of the night, the Fleming Island High School wrestling team returned to Clay County with a first-ever team title at the prestigious Bill Scott Memorial Invitational Wrestling tournament held Friday and Saturday at Lyman High School in Longwood.
“This is the meet that separates the men from the boys,” said Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert, who now has three tournament team titles in the first three weeks of the season; Fleming Island's own Keystone/Bob Jordan Invite, the Westside Kiwanis Invite at Bishop Snyder and, now, the Bill Scott Memorial invite. “With seven finalists in there with the likes of Riverdale, Winter Springs and Flagler, plus a team from Wisconsin, the team found a way to get to the finals. I think we should have had more champions, but the season is early. We'll see some of those guys in our district, region and state meets.”
Fleming Island finished with 259.5 points to hold off a late charge from Riverdale of Ft. Myers (fifth in Class 2A, 2015) who erased a 21 point lead by the Golden Eagles with a strong consolation round to tie the score twice during the finals' round, but fell short by just a point after Fleming Island's Jason Davis pinned at 195 pounds in just 46 seconds to secure the win. Region 1-3A rival Winter Springs (second in Class 3A in 2015) finished third at 204.5 with 1-3A's Flagler Palm Coast (fifth in 3A) fourth at 203.0. Miami of Columbus finished fifth at 143. Fleming Island finished 12th in Class 3A last year.
“Our numbers in the finals, plus some strong top eight finishes for the rest of the lineup kept us in the hunt despite the losses in the finals,” said Cobbert. “We were still missing two guys (at 145 and 152), but the guys who lost early wrestled strong to stay in the points matches in consolations.”
Top performer for the night for Fleming Island was freshman Deandre Demus, who had a state-meet caliber opponents list that would have shaken fear in most underclass wrestlers. Demus outpointed another freshman in his 113 finals match, Lake Mary's Jeremiah Costen, 13-9 after dispatching of Riverdale senior James Monos, a 2A state runnerup last year at 113, in the semifinals. In his prelims, Demus defeated Miami Columbus state qualifier Edgar Martinez, a senior. In his final, Demus scored six third period points to cushion his win.
“Deandre just goes out and wrestles tough all the time,” said Cobbert. “He doesn't get rattled when people tell him his guy is a state runnerup or a region finalist. He just wrestles hard.”
With his lineup of finalists; sophomore Albie Snedacker at 106, Demus, senior Tracy Davis at 126, senior Xaiver Sampsel at 132, senior John Martorana at 170, sophomore Ryan Smenda at 182 and Davis, a junior, Cobbert was wary of the firepower of the wrestlers in all the finals and that the points would be tough to earn.
“This meet puts us up against a good lineup in preparation for a run at the end of the year,” said Cobbert. “What we did today is good, but we have a lot of work to do. We need to be able to take these kind of first place matches.”
Snedacker lost to Cian Fischer of Weyauwega-Fremont of Wisconsin at 106 7-3 with Davis, a state qualifer at 126, taking Flagler Palm Coast sophomore Michael DeAugustino, fourth at 126 in 3A last year, to four overtime rounds before losing 2-1.
“Tracy and DeAugustino will meet again at regions and could make it to semifinals at the state meet,” said Cobbert.
In another possible region 1-3A finals' preview, Sampsel, a three-time state qualifier (sixth in 2015 at 120), lost by injury default at 132 against Winter Springs' sophomore Cole Mitchell. Sampsel had built up a 5-2 lead into the second period, but twice halted the match for a neck-related injury. Mitchell wound up tying the score at 5-5 then went ahead 7-5 before Sampsel relinquished the match with 28 seconds remaining.
In the next four finals, with no Fleming Island athletes, Winter Springs won at 138, Riverdale won at 145, Flagler Palm Coast won at 152 and Winter Springs won at 160 to set up Fleming Island's second round of finalists with Martorana losing 6-3 to Riverdale's Jared Galan off a final two-point move with just three seconds left in their 170 final match and Smenda also giving up a two-point takedown with six seconds left in his match to lose 8-6 to Riverdale's Gage Schield to set up a must-win situation for Davis at 195. Smenda fell behind 3-0 in the first period, but wrestled back to tie the score at 4-4 and 6-6 before the final scoring opportunity went to Shield.
Davis was last week's outstanding wrestler at the Westside Kiwanis Invite and had rifled through his Bill Scott prelims with three pins in a row. In his final, Davis put Kichener on his back with a strong single leg takedown, then executed an Easton roll move to flatten Kichener for the pin and the team title final points.
“I learned after my state meet that every match I wrestle I have to treat as a state championship,” said Davis, third at 182 last year in Class 2A with Oakleaf High School. “I made a critical mistake at the state meet last year and it cost me a title. I'm wrestling to get the job done this year.”
For Cobbert, Davis' addition to the lineup adds an element of motivation to his young squad.
“Two things with Jason; one, he wrestles against me in practice because he is so strong and fast so he's learning stuff that other wrestlers don't necessarily get everyday,” said Cobbert, a four-time state champion while at Clay High School and still a formidable mat presence. “Second, the young guys feed off of his intensity not only on the mat, but in preparation for his matches. He wants to improve last year's third place.”
Fleming Island got third at 138 from sophomore Paul Detwiler, seventh at 120 from sophomore Jacob Sandoval and fourth at 220 from sophomore Jose Concepcion who faced two-time state champion Dylan Meeks of Dr. Phillips in his semifinal and lost an 11-5 decision. Meeks defeated Riverdale's Cyrus Girtman to win the 220 title and stave off enough Riverdale points to keep the title in Fleming Island's hands. Concepcion did pin Flagler's Justin Haaf in prelims. Fleming Island junior Brandyne Mackey took fifth at 285 with a pin of Miami Columbus junior Robert Perez.
Fleming Island continues its rugged schedule with a duals tournament at Flagler Palm Coast on Tues., Dec. 22 and the Osceola Knockout Tournament at Kissimmee-Osceola High School in two weeks where Class 3A state champion South Dade is scheduled to compete.