MIDDLEBURG - With a strong cadre of sophomore returners for the girl's wrestling team, the Middleburg High girl's wrestling team, led by junior defending heavyweight state champion Cheyenne Cruce, is …
MIDDLEBURG - With a strong cadre of sophomore returners for the girl's wrestling team, the Middleburg High girl's wrestling team, led by junior defending heavyweight state champion Cheyenne Cruce, is primed to make some noise on the state circuit in 2023. Middleburg was fifth in Florida last year behind state wrestling strongholds like Matanzas, Freedom, Apopka and Osceola.
"We all came together after wrestling together at Wilkinson Junior High and we want to make a statement here at Middleburg," said Sarah Walsh, who with sophomore teammates Skyla Fisher, Memphis Moses and Lilly Bradshaw have formed a coalition of feisty grapplers that intend to make a dent in Florida's rankings in 2023. "Skyla lost to the state champion in her second match at state and Memphis is a little bigger and stronger after her first state meet last year. She's learned a lot about the sport at the highest level and is hungry."
Walsh was a regional qualifier but lost in her second match before missing her shot at state.
"I qualified for Fargo but had to have some surgery on my shoulder, but I'm strong now," said Walsh. "With more girls coming out for the team, we're building a bigger team all around which will help our team scores."
With senior third place medalist Gracie Bradshaw the lone non-returner, Cruce, the team leader as a sophomore undefeated state champion (35-0), has the rest of her squad coming in with a year's of state wrestling experiences that bode well to coach Coll Robertson's knack of stringing consecutive titles on his resume; for example six or seven straight middle school titles while at Lake Asbury.
"We think we have a chance of being at least top three in the state if not a state champion team," said Cruce, second in region 1-1A to eventual state champion Matanzas last year. "We have more girls in the room, can practice one-on-one every day and with an attitude that we came a long way last year."
Bradshaw comes to the team with enough matches against her older sister that she will be expected to score the same points as big sis.
"She's really good and a fast learner," said Walsh. "We learn from her because she learned from her sister."
Middleburg hosted their first in a long-time Red and Black Team Duals on Friday with Robertson able to field numerous matches.
"We have a lot more guys in the room than we have ever had," said senior Tucker Cody, noting key returners will be Wyatt Leduc and Grady Woodard, both state qualifiers last year. "It's great to see the guys from other teams coming out and being a part of wrestling."