Fleming Island, Orange Park, Clay win wrestling duals titles

By Randy Lefko
Posted 1/16/19

FLAGLER PALM COAST – Fleming Island High School’s wrestling team executed a near-perfect game plan to the tune of a 79-0 thrashing of district 1-3A duals challenger Flagler Palm Coast on …

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Fleming Island, Orange Park, Clay win wrestling duals titles


FLAGLER PALM COAST – Fleming Island High School’s wrestling team executed a near-perfect game plan to the tune of a 79-0 thrashing of district 1-3A duals challenger Flagler Palm Coast on Wed., Jan. 10 as the Golden Eagles repeated their quest to meet again with defending duals champion South Dade High in three weeks.

Fleming Island pinned through the entire Flagler lineup except for Briar Jackson at 120 who won with an 18-2 tech fall.

The Fleming Island win comes after the Golden Eagles dominant win over 17 teams at the Keystone Invitational held Jan. 4-5 at the Clay County Fairgrounds. The Golden Eagles continued with their rugged schedule with three wins in duals matches at the Pirate Invitational in Palm Bay before taking second in the Saturday individual tournament behind defending 3A-champion South Dade.

“We wrestled tough in Palm Bay and gave South Dade a run,” said Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert, who has been 3A runnerup to South Dade the past two years and also 3A duals runnerup to South Dade last year. “We are executing the right moves in training and technique to do well against them and should see them at the duals championship. Winter Springs is up there too this year.”

At Palm Bay, Fleming Island scored 255 points to South Dade’s 282.5 with 2A-Riverdale in third with 215. The rest of the Palm Bay field was mostly 2A schools.

Winning individual titles at Palm Bay were Briar Jackson at 120 who beat Riverdale’s Tajh Clayton, third-ranked in 2A and Luke Chop at 152, who beat Port St. Lucie’s Montavious Yearby, eighth-ranked in 2A).

“Briar (defending 3A champion at 113) is coming into his championship form while Luke is becoming a silent force for us,” said Cobbert. “We had some good finals matches down there.”

Making the finals at Palm Bay were Hunter Herrington at 106; Riley Holton at 113, who lost and 8-2 decision to South Dade’s Jacob Delgado, fourth-ranked in 3A; Anthony Breeden at 182; Chad Nix at 195, who lost 10-5 to Riverdale’s second ranked in 2A Darius Parker, and Raul Gonzalez at 285, who lost to Riverdale’s eighth-ranked T.J Barfield.

In 2018, Fleming Island beat Flagler, Orlando Evans and Winter Springs (67-3) to advance to the 3A Duals Final Four where they beat Palm Harbor before losing 39-25 to South Dade.

For 2019, Fleming Island travels to West Orange High for the region duals matches with Windermere on Jan. 17. Buchholz will face West Orange with the winners facing off also on January 17. Timber Creek faces off against Winter Springs while Hagerty has Freedom in the opposite round one matches. The region championship is set for Fri., Jan. 25 at Osceola High School with the Final Four (state semifinal and final) set for Sat., Jan. 26 also at Osceola.

Orange Park beats Middleburg for district 3-2A duals title

By Randy Lefko

Sports Editor

JACKSONVILLE - In district 3-2A at Terry Parker High School, Orange Park got a strong rivalry match with Middleburg to take the district 3-2A duals title with Middleburg runner. Orange Park won 48-34 with the meat of the Raider lineup; 170 pounder Jacob Campbell, 24-1, pinning Middleburg’s Chris Conoway in just 18 seconds starting a slew of Raider wins that overcame and early 21-6 Bronco lead. Middleburg got early wins from Storm Mercado at 138, Chris Burch at 145, Bryce Williams at 152 and Michael Higginbotham at 160 to put Raider coach Justin Daniels at unease.

“We have a strong team in the individual tournaments, but we just don’t match up well with a team like Middleburg,” said Daniels, who doubled up after a 148-143.5 win last week at the Ron Bierbaum Invitational over Creekside last week at Episcopal High School. “The strength of our lineup showed out tonight to take the lead back for us. Jacob Campbell at 170 and Jacob Moore at 182 are both big, strong wrestlers and they train together every day. That makes both of them better.”

Moore came in after Campbell’s pin and won by injury default before the Raiders got three straight forfeit wins to take the lead.

“This is a good reminder that we are not where we need to be yet,” said Daniels. “Our hammers get pins, but we need to score in other weights.”

At 106, Middleburg’s Davon Gill snuck in a pin over Orange Park’s Davon Bailey to close the lead, but Keli Parks, Orange Park’s 113 pounder, pinned Middleburg’s Casey Crafton to end the match and earn her second pin of the night.

“They are wrestlers, not girls, when they hit the mat,” said Daniels.

Orange Park beat Terry Parker to advance.

“We’ve changed our style of practice to address our ability to push mentally,” said Daniels. “We only have one senior.”

At the Ron Bierbaum Invitational, The Raiders got individual titles from Campbell and Moore with runnerup finishes from Bailey and Cameron Broughton at 138. Also, Arlo Wilson at 145, Jaran Moore at 195 and Dean Ganci at 132 all finish third.

Ridgeview, the defending champion, was able to field just seven wrestlers with sophomore Matthew Rodriguez pushing his unbeaten record to 28-0 with a pin over Middleburg’s Davon Gill at 106. Rodriguez was third at 106 last year in 2A.

“We’ve been improving on stamina and technique this year,” said Rodriguez, who was joined on the mat by his dad, Bart, who took the head coach slot at Ridgeview this year. “I learned a lot about wrestling at the next level last year by going to state and have tried to improve what I know will help this year to win the state title.”

Also targeting a second state meet run is 113 pounder Gabriel Guzman, who has just two losses (both to out of state opponents from Alabama and Georgia), who came in to pin Middleburg’s Riley Girgis.

“Matt and Gabe train together and we take trips to Tennessee to get some higher level training about once a month,” said Bart Rodriguez. “My take is that the boys won’t be seeing the boys they will meet in the regions and states until those meets happen. That way we will be as unknown to them as they are to us and we just work on our own technique and conditioning. Sometimes, when wrestlers wrestle the same guys in the season, they tend to get lax or bored and don’t train as hard. I like to take the boys and get some fresh bodies to push us. We get beat up pretty good in Tennessee.”

Against Middleburg, Ridgeview also got a win from Clay Propes at 120.

In the 2017 Duals tournament, Ridgeview, the duals disttrict champion over Orange Park, lost to Matanzas while Orange Park lost to eventual 2A runnerup Creekside. Creekside lost to Lake Gibson the duals state championship.

For 2019, Orange Park will face off against Creekside while Middleburg faces Matanzas at Matanzas High School on Thurs., Jan. 17 with Columbia versus Pace and Gulf Breeze vs. Lincoln on the opposite side of the round one bracket. Round one winners will face off also on January 17 with the region final at Osceola on Fri., Jan. 25. Final Four matches will be staged Sat., Jan. 26 at Osceola.

Clay wins district 3-1A duals title

By Randy Lefko

Sports Editor

YULEE - In district 3-1A, Clay High won with a 54-21 win over Yulee in the first post-season foray for new head coach Hunter Hill.

“We graduated six state placers from last year and we are very young,” said Hill. “We have to trust the process to keep the Clay tradition going.”

Hill’s personnel losses from last year’s number two team in Class 1A include Daniel Porter, graduation, sixth at 113; Steve Chopek, transfer to 3A-Countryside, second at 120; Peyton Hughes, transfer to Fleming Island, 138 champion; Dylan Taylor, fourth at 152, chose football; Connor Green, third at 160, graduation; Carson Yost, graduation, 1-2 at 170; Abbott Taylor fifth at 182, football; Kurt Jackson, graduation, second at 195 and Ryan Rivers, graduation, 1-2 at 285.

Clay won a 66-6 match against host Baker County High School with a handful of forfeits and pins from Dalton Huckleberry, Justin Byler, Luke Davis, Cale Hoskinson, Grant Stanish, Luca Fiannaca and Jordan Bell. Hoskinson, Hill’s lone state returner, was second in region 1-1A last year as a freshman and went 1-2 in 1A at 126.

Against Yulee, Clay got pins from Maverick Rainwater, Stanish, Jered Mosley, Fiannaca and Will Dorvilus.

Both Clay and Yulee advanced to the region 1-1A duals quarterfinals on Thurs., Jan. 17.

In 2017, the first year of the duals tournament, Clay won their district title then lost to champ Lake Highland Prep in the state semifinals. The Blue Devils beat Bolles and Bishop Kenny to get to the state semifinals. Lake Highland Prep beat Cardinal Gibbons 72-0 in the championship match.

For 2019, Clay faces Bolles in round one with Yulee facing Bishop Kenny; both at Bishop Kenny on Thurs., Jan. 17 with winners facing off also on January 17. Florida High faces Arnold with South Walton facing Wakulla in the opposite end of the bracket. The region championship is set for Fri., Jan. 25 at Osceola with the Final Four (state semifinals/final) set for Sat., Jan. 26.


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