KISSIMMEE - Clay High senior 220 pound wrestler Garrett Tyre kind of knew his best match at the Class 1A championships in Kissimmee might be a familiar face and the premonition proved correct with …
KISSIMMEE - Clay High senior 220 pound wrestler Garrett Tyre kind of knew his best match at the Class 1A championships in Kissimmee might be a familiar face and the premonition proved correct with Tyre linking up with Raines High’s Jamari Watson for a third battle of the titans that ended in just-as-thrilling a finish as previous battles with Tyre punching out a last-second scoring opportunity to win the Class 1A title.
“It has always been a learning experience to wrestle him (Watson) because he’s such a great athlete,” said Tyre, after pinning Watson with just three seconds left in the third period for the region 1-1A title a week ago. “This will be the state title match in a week.”
In the girls state championships, a first-time event for the FHSAA, Clay High’s Madisyn Blackburn and Orange Park High’s Andrea Smith both repeated as state champions with both winning non-sanctioned state titles last year. Smith remained unbeaten through her season while defeated previously unbeaten ..Blackburn had to respond to a surprising region finish with a stomach ailment to refocus her overwhelming attack to get her gold medal.
In Class 2A, with Fleming Island dominating their region 1-2A meet and Ridgeview, Middleburg and Orange Park advancing a handful of wrestlers, the medal county was high for the quartet despite no gold medals.
“Think of this, 11 guys to state, 10 medals and they all come back,” said Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert. “We wrestled like we always do; no flinching, no showboating, just hard and tough. Our guys had some close matches with guys who were four, five time state meet guys. I’m proud of them.”
Fleming Island had two silver medalists; 113’s Jayce Paridon, who finished at 58-1, and 182’s Jhoel Robinson, 51-4, while Ridgeview’s 220 Derrick Mosley, 42-4, lost in his 220 final to his region final foe. Orange Park has one wrestler, Trevion Sermons at 160, who finished 0-2, lost his first match 15-0 to eventual champion Brendon Abdon of Lake Gibson (53-2). Middleburg had four wrestlers; Jackson Hornback, Grady Woodard, Wyatt Leduc and Riley Girgis with Hornback and Girgis winning one match each.
Clay wound up eighth in Class 1A with Jensen Beach top team at 178.0; Clay 77, with Fleming Island fourth in 2A behind Tampa Jesuit’s 189.0 team points; Fleming Island at 113.0 behind Charlotte and Lake Gibson, both past 2A state champions. Ridgeview was 23rd with Mosley the only wrestler with Middleburg 55th and Orange Park 70th.
In Class 3A, Oakleaf finished 24th behind South Dade winning yet another title with 171.5 points over rival Southwest Miami at 158.0.
“I chatted a couple of times with South Dade coach (Victor Balmeceda) and I think he missed our rivalry being here,” said Cobbert. “We are going to train some over the summer with the South Dade boys because they are the best; the gold standard, with 20 state titles.”
For Tyre, 49-2 for the season, who missed his state meet ticket last year due to an unsportsmanlike ding at the Fleming Island vs. Clay dual match that brought a suspension that included the district tournament, he has kept focus on his goal at hand throughout the season to avoid the same fate.
“I learned from that experience that wrestling hard and little things that happen are not personal and I had to think of the bigger picture to avoid that this season,” said Tyre. “The focus has been to wrestle hard and compete and not let things that happen get the better of me. My coaches have been super helpful in keeping my head on right this year and it paid off.”
One key moment of the season, at the riveting region championship match, was an errant out of bounds throw that put Watson and Tyre on the floor off the mat and on top of the mat boundaries.
“He was shaken up and I was scared that I might get stuck with a penalty, but I think the officials saw that it was just tough wrestling,” said Tyre. “Jamari came back on the mat and we wrestled hard to the finish and both looking forward to the state meet. I was more worried that they were going to call one of us for a concussion and that would have ended the match.”
In Kissimmee, Tyre advanced with pins of 1:36 and 3:33 with a 9-1 major decision in his semifinal to get to the final while Watson, 18-3, pinned all the way to the final; :28, 2:16 and 1:18.
“I watched his first match (an 18 second pin) and was not expecting him to beat him so fast,” said Tyre. “From there, I knew we were going to be in the final.”
In the championship match, Tyre scored first, but both wrestlers were hit with one-point stall penalties before Watson got a two point takedown. Tyre responded with an escape to end the second period tied at 2-2.
“He was coming hard and I was stressing a bit,” said Tyre. “I just kept thinking I worked too hard to not win this.”
In the third, Watson struck first with a one point escape with Tyre getting a takedown in the final seconds for the win.
“I shot in on him at about 21 seconds, grabbed an ankle then we bounced around until about three seconds to go before I got the points,” said Tyre. “It was amazing. He texted me later about it. He’s a classy guy.”
Fleming Island opened the championships with all but two of their 11 qualifiers winning to advance.
Round two, the quarterfinals, took its toll on the Golden Eagles hopes as just Paridon, Chris Chop and Robinson made the semifinals with Chop losing to Matanzas Tyler Mills a second time in two weeks to fall back into consolations. Chop would finish fifth; Mills wound up state runnerup.
“Chris being only a sophomore, I think, had a great tournament against a lot of tough people,” said Cobbert. “He stayed focused on the medal after he got beat and proved he belonged there.”
In the other consolations, 170 Joshua Sandoval took the most demanding route; three wins in four matches, to finish fourth. Sandoval lost his quarterfinal by pin to eventual champion Cory Cannan of Barrion Collier (59-1).
Freshmen twins Shane and Laird Duhaylungsod both medaled in their first state meet with Shane eighth at 106 and Laird sixth at 120. Kaden Schaefer finished seventh at 138, Matthew Kotler finished sixth at 145, Ronan Bozeman, who lost his opener then won three matches, finished sixth at 160, and Ethan Hoffstetter finished seventh at 285. Hoffstetter lost a 3-2 decision in quarterfinals to eventual champion Jeremiah Jackson of Kathleen (44-1).
“A bunch of freshman with state medals; a guy (Bozeman) who has wrestled for just two years and gets a state medal,” said Cobbert. “I think we just have to add a little more to our arsenal and come back with more options to win. These guys we wrestled were top skilled guys who were experienced enough to adjust on the fly. That’s our next phase. Maybe we learned a few solid moves, then rely a little too much. Wrestling at the top levels means taking some risks on the big moves. That’s where we are going.”
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