KISSIMMEE - Fleming Island High senior wrestler Chad Nix lost in the 220 pound final of the rugged Knockout Christmas Classic wrestling tournament at Osceola High School Saturday afternoon in Kissimmee.
Nix, 29-2 now and a senior who recently committed to Campbell University, lost to unbeaten (33-0) and defending Georgia Class 4A champion Chase Horne of West Laurens, Ga., as Fleming Island and Clay high schools both took diminished lineups to the annual grappling slugfest; Fleming Island with nine wrestlers, Clay with just five.
Knockout's team lineup featured a Who' Who among southeastern United States powerhouses from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Fleming Island produced two champions two years ago in Paul Detwiler and Jaquan English, both still wrestling at the college level.
Nix, who made the semifinal for 220 along with training partner and vastly improved Raul Gonzales at 285, advanced with two first period pins and decisions of 10-3 and 10-5 while Horne, 33-0, had three pins to the semifinal before moving to the final via an injury to Woodland County (GA) opponent Bryce Shedd.
For Gonzales, who has followed Nix into a handful of finals' matches in recent weeks, used two pins and an overtime win to get to the 285 semifinal before Tampa Jesuit's Mason Arnold, 2A runnerup at 220 last year, won 8-1 to put Gonzales into the consolation rounds.
Gonzales won his consolation semifinal 4-3 before taking third with a third period pin over Ethan Vergara of Mater Lakes Academy (FL). Arnold lost 5-1 in the final to Seminole's Curtis Ruff.
For team points, Lake Gibson, the defending Class 2A champion, out-dueled Georgia defending 5A champion Woodland Academy 218.5-204.5 with Tampa Jesuit, 2A runnerup last year, third with 203.0 and 3A defending champion South Dade fourth at 153.0. Fleming Island, second in 3A last year, finished 11th with 97.0 points with Clay 39th with 13 points.
For Clay, sophomore Cale Hoskinson (152) and junior Luke Davis (120) lost in their round three preliminary matches and then went 1-1 in the consolation rounds to finish out of the top six. Clay had Marvin Rainwater, Luke Boree and Garrett Tyre as their other three wrestlers.
Fleming Island had four wrestlers make their respective quarterfinals along with Nix and Gonzales; Gannon Janssen at 145, Tanner Hill at 152, Luke Chop at 160 and Gavin Smith at 170, with all four losing the quarterfinal. All four won their first consolation round match, but lost the second to place out of the top six.
Fleming Island also had Ryan Hobson, Riley Holton and Isaac Padgett on their roster.