Overcast, 57°
Weather sponsored by:

Spartans newest sport could reap gold

By Sasha Wallace SJCDS student
Posted 1/11/23

ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School athletics is known for its ability to find state champion gold with girls weightlifting the most recent “new” gold in the Spartan trophy cabinet.

A …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Spartans newest sport could reap gold


Posted

ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School athletics is known for its ability to find state champion gold with girls weightlifting the most recent “new” gold in the Spartan trophy cabinet.

A new name, eighth grader Matthew Braddock, is making some noise on the wrestling circuit as the latest first-time sport on the Spartan campus.

One coach that knows a bit about winning gold medals is St. Johns girls soccer coach Mike Pickett, who has seen Braddock in his physical education classes.

“Matthew Braddock is sewing his legacy right now, he is really good and finding success this first year,” said Pickett, who only has 14 team state titles; 11 in a row presently with a 12th on the line in 2023.

In one of the more unique challenges to the athletic staff at St. Johns, Braddock has become the solo wrestler to ever swag the hallways of the gold-medal rich campus. His season record is near 29 wins, 17 losses with the stock-built 132 pounder facing off against athletes up to five years older than him.

Braddock, who has been wrestling as an age grouper since about five years old under the tutelage of dad Dr. Todd and the North Florida Wrestling Academy in Fleming Island, has been storming the gate in the Florida wrestling scene with recent tournament wins against high school athletes; some with regional finishes from prior years.

Braddock, though just an eighth grader displayed a bit of his gamesmanship on this reporter when asked about his favorite moves on the matt.

Braddock noted his favorite move is a double leg takedown and his favorite pinning combination is a Tulsa. When asking Braddock why that is his favorite pinning combination he says “because it just works and it is effective.”

Braddock detailed his move; a double leg takedown where you take both arms and wrap them around your opponents legs and keep close to them which ultimately forces them to the ground. Braddocks favorite pinning combination is a Tulsa which is when you go to chop and the opponent braces and you put your arm under and brace the opponents leg and you tuck your head in close and you start to spin around the opponent.

When asking Braddock why that is his favorite pinning combination he says “because it just works and it is effective.â€

Braddock later revealed that his choices for favorite move were a bit of misdirection for his opponents should they read the Clay Today sports pages.

“Why would I want my competition to know what my favorites moves are,” he coyishly revealed.â€

Right now, Braddock just keeps wrestling against high schoolers as he awaits a decision by the FHSAA to his inquiry to wrestling in the upcoming individual districts with a shot at a region spot and ultimately a state championship path.

According to coach Rocky Bantag, who has chauffered Braddocks young career thus far, the likelihood of him being able to compete at the district level is in question because FHSAA rule states that a team must be in competition for a minimum of one year before a wrestler can compete at the district level.

“Exceptions have been made for other schools this year so Matthew has a shot,” said Bantag, who has also coached Braddock as a sixth grader football player.”If Matthew is given the opportunity to compete at the district level, he has the potential to make it to regionals and potentially make it to state†.