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

By Randy Lefko
Posted 1/16/19

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 …

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


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.


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