By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — Sometimes it’s possible to win a tournament title with enough points in the early rounds to salt the thing away.
That doesn’t make the final round any less anxious, however.
Bishop Kenny (team HM in the final regular-season rankings) had put together a substantial lead through the semis and wrestleback matches during Saturday’s 1A-District 4 tournament at Episcopal School of Jacksonville.
However, it almost wasn’t substantial enough, as the Crusaders — who’d put nine into the finals to Bolles’ eight — got titles at just two of those nine weight classes, while the Bulldogs bagged five bracket titles, turning substantial into razor-thin.
But when it was over with, the rush Bolles put on wasn’t quite enough, as the Crusaders held on to win their consecutive district title, 198-192.5.
“That was a little too close for comfort,” Kenny coach Paul Schloth said. “We had some kids come through that maybe had been kids that won just a couple matches during the regular season, and they made a difference for us.
“We’re still so young…all these young guys that were freshmen and sophomores, that lost in the finals, when they get another year under their belts they’re going to be champions.”
Both Bishop Kenny and Bolles advanced 13 wrestlers to Friday’s Region 1 tournament at Florida High in Tallahassee.
“It’ll just be regular practice all week this week,” Schloth said. “We’ll just focus on improving each match and see how far each kid can go.”
Pedro Menendez was the only other team in the district to qualify a double-digit total of wrestlers, taking third with 127.5 points and moving 10 on to regions, including two champions.
Host Episcopal bagged the second-most individual titles in taking fourth place, qualifying five wrestlers for regions and scoring 105.5 points, 35 ahead of University Christian, who had six qualifiers and one champion.
Bradford edged Wolfson for fifth place, 50-45, with the Tornadoes qualifying out five for regions and Wolfpack advancing four. FSDB brought two wrestlers Saturday, but the Dragons finished with no points.
Below follows a summary of the weight classes:
106 — Bishop Kenny sophomore Jack Delaney (Matmen #5) won the title behind a fall in the semis and then a 6-4 decision in the championship match over Episcopal’s Kyle Hopkins (Matmen #7, statewide 8th), who’d reached the title match with a tech fall in the semis. On the consi side, Pedro Menendez’s Limuel Mallari — who’d lost to Hopkins in the semis — came back with two pins to take third, pinning University Christian’s Christian Wiley in 2:16 in that match.
113 — The Christians secured their one title at this weight, as sophomore Daniel Porter (Matmen #6, statewide 9th) had a fall in the semis and then teched Bishop Kenny’s Garrett Tirado, who’d had a fall of his own in getting to the final, by a 22-7 score to win his second district championship. Third place went to Pedro Menendez’s RJ Iglesias, who’d lost by fall to Tirado in the semi but came back to pin Bolles’ Dalton Posick in 3:46 in that match.
120 — Episcopal 8th-grader Reid Hampton pinned his way through the bracket, with a 21-second fall in the semis and second-period pin in the title match against Bishop Kenny’s Reid Venner, who’d himself won by fall in the semis. Bolles’ Julian Morris, who lost to Venner in that semi, came back to take third with a fall over UC’s Phillip Wright in 2:09.
126 — Bishop Kenny senior Kyle Black (Matmen HM) earned his second district title after pinning his way through the bracket with two pins, first in the semis and then again, in 4:47 over Matmen #8 Jason Griffis of Bradford, who’d reached the final with a pin of his own in the semis. Third place went to Bolles’ Bennett Zimmerman, who’d lost to Black in the semis, but came back to decision Pedro Menendez’s Alex Wanner, 12-7.
132 — Bolles freshman KJ Fagan put together an impressive performance in winning the weight class, with a fall in the semis and then a technical fall in the championship match over Matmen #4 (16th statewide) Andrew Slade of Bishop Kenny, winning 18-2. Third place went to WOlfson’s Sai Hassalla, who’d lost to Fagan in the semi but came back to pin Bradford’s Adam Wilson in 2:29.
138 — Bulldog senior Gray Creed (Matmen HM) put together a scoring flurry late, augmented by two penalty points, to rally past fellow honorable-mention Sid Madison of Bishop Kenny, 7-5, for the championship after winning by fall in 59 seconds in the semi. Madison, too, had a fall to his credit before the final. Third place went to Bradford’s Dylan Drow, who’d lost to Madison in the semis but came back to pin Pedro Menendez’s Collin Tanner in 2:21.
145 — Bolles senior Conner Cronk (Matmen #4, 16th statewide) had two strong performances to win the championship, with a 16-6 major in the semis and then a 47-second fall in the final over Pedro Menendez’s David Soule, who had a fall of his own in the semis. In the consi rounds, Bishop Kenny’s Joey Cusick, who went six with Cronk in the semis, won by fall for the second time of the day against Bradford’s Andrew Hetler, this time in 2:27, to take third place.
152 — Pedro Menendez senior Avery Samples (Matmen #6, 8th statewide) pinned his way through the bracket in impressive fashion, with a fall in 1:24 in the semis and then again in the final, this time in 4:35, over Matmen #5 Michael Surenyan of Bolles, for the title. UC’s Derrick Stumph, who’d lost by fall to Surenyan in the semis, came back for third with a fall in 2:19 over Jacob Williams of Bishop Kenny.
160 — Falcons junior Max Worthington (Matmen #9, 16th statewide) made it back-to-back Menendez titles without even having to leave the first period, with a 12-second pin in the semis and fall in 1:32 in the final over Bishop Kenny’s Nick Beenen, who had a fall of his own in the semis. On the back side, Bolles’ CJ Grimes — who lost to Beenen in the semis — needed just 38 seconds to take third, with a pin over UC’s Zach Oakley.
170 — Episcopal junior Christian Rickey (Matmen #7) pinned his way through the bracket, with two second-period falls, the second one coming in 3:08 against Bolles’ Forrest Andrews, who had advanced to the finals with a major decision. Andrews’ semifinal opponent, Bishop Kenny’s Chris Freiha, rallied for third place, with a fall over Pedro Menendez’s Alex Cathcart in 2:09.
182 — Bolles junior Caleb Calhoun (Matmen HM) had missed a good chunk of the season, but it didn’t seem to faze him Saturday, as Calhoun had a 50-second fall in the semis and then won in the finals by injury default over University Christian’s Michael Marshall, who had two pins to reach the final. Those opponents Marshall pinned wound up meeting for third place, with Bishop Kenny’s Paxton Driscoll decisioning Wolfson’s Keethan Seay, 2-1.
195 — Bulldogs sophomore Rushton Roberts needed barely more than two minutes to win the bracket, with a 23-second fall in the semi and then a pin in 1:39 in the finals against Bishop Kenny’s Addison Glisson, who’d had a quick fall himself in the semi. In the consi rounds, Pedro Menendez’s Austyn Holsolmback, who’d lost in the semis to Roberts, came back with a pin and tech fall (17-1) over Wolfson’s Lance Schlecter for third.
220 — Episcopal senior Scott Dollison (Matmen #1, statewide #3) pinned his way through the bracket for his third district championship, needing just 48 seconds to deck Bolles’ Justin Mitchell, who’d won in the semis by injury-default. Pedro Menendez’s Joseph Phelts took third place after the ID loss, with two pins, including a fall in 1:34 over Eddie McCormick (Matmen #8) of Bradford for third place.
285 — Eagles senior Conor Chepenik (Matmen #1, 3rd statewide) had a fall in the semis and then decisioned Matmen #10 Josiah McCallum of Bishop Kenny (won by fall in the semis) by a 3-0 score for his second district title. Third place went to Wolfson’s Ronald Brunson, who lost to Chepenik in the semis but rallied for two pins on the back side, including a third-place fall in 1:40 over Bolles’ Mason Yost.