Northeast/Northwest Florida Matmen staff report
TALLAHASSEE — The respite was only for two seasons, but it might have seemed like 20 for Clay and perhaps like two weeks for Clay’s Region 1 opponents.
In the Blue Devils’ return to Region 1 this past weekend at Florida High, Clay — the District 3 champion — dominated the scene, winning six individual titles and qualifying 12 wrestlers for state, enjoying a 285-201 gap over runnerup Arnold, the District 1 champ.
District 2 champ and defending region champion Wakulla was third with 146.5 points, with the host Seminoles fourth (131) and Suwannee fifth (99).
Marianna was sixth with 84.5 points, Bolles seventh (80), District 4 champion Bishop Kenny eighth (71.5), Episcopal ninth (67) and Raines 10th (45).
Teams 11-20 in the field were Wewahitchka (40 points), West Nassau (38.5), Pedro Menendez (35), Godby & Yulee (33 each), Westside (31), Baker County & Mosley (29), Bozeman (27) and University Christian (24).
Teams 21-29 in the tournament were North Florida Christian (23.5), Bradford (14.5), Rutherford (14), South Walton (12), Bishop Snyder (11), Bay (8), Rickards (5), Fernandina Beach (4), Wolfson (3) and North Bay Haven (zero).
Here’s a look at the 14 weight classes, and the 56 Matmen-area kids that qualified for states:
The skinny — Championship: Arnold freshman Ethan Pickren (3rd statewide) got to the finals with a forfeit victory and a pair of falls, in the quarters over Florida High’s Ikeon Myles in 1:53 on Friday and 53-second fall in the semis Saturday morning over Bishop Kenny sophomore Jack Delaney. On the bottom half of the bracket, Clay freshman Louie Gagliardo (4th statewide) also had a first-round forfeit win, 9-4 quarterfinal win over Episcopal’s Kyle Hopkins (8th), and 10-0 semifinal major over Suwannee junior Brandon Trask (9th). In the championship match, Pickren took the rematch win as he had in their first encounter at Clay three weeks earlier, decisioning Gagliardo by a 7-2 count.
The skinny — 3rd place: Trask rallied from the semifinal loss with a 14-0 major in the blood round over Myles in a District 2 title rematch, and then decisioned Delaney 8-6 for third place. Delaney also had a rematch in his consi semi, taking on District 4 rival Hopkins and winning, 7-6.
The skinny — Championship: Clay junior Chris Merring (2nd statewide) pinned his way through to the finals, with a second-period fall over Suwannee’s Chase Clark Friday afternoon in the quarters and then a pin in 1:37 over Bozeman’s DJ Hanson. Likewise in the bottom half, Wakulla junior Larry Smith (3rd) pinned his way into the final, with a first-period fall over West Nassau sophomore Jake Blount (8th) and fall in 2:42 in the semis over University Christian sophomore Daniel Porter (9th). The final didn’t result in another pin, but instead was a nailbiter, with Merring able to outlast Smith for an 8-6 decision.
The skinny — 3rd place: While Blount had won in their meeting in the regular season, this time it was Porter’s turn after losing in the semi. Porter first earned his second state-qualifier berth with a 7-1 decision over Clark in the consi semis, and then took an injury-default victory over Blount for third place. Blount had needed three victories to get to the placing round, with a tech fall and fall, then decisioned Hanson, 10-7, to make it out.
The skinny — Championship: Arnold junior William Pickren (4th statewide) had a pair of falls on Friday, but the road to the title required extra time twice, as Pickren edged Raines junior Joseph Haynes, 5-3 in overtime, in the semis. Meanwhile, in the bottom half, Clay freshman Dylan Taylor (7th) pinned his way to the final, with a 56-second fall in the quarters over Bozeman’s Delton Griffin and a semifinal pin in 2:48 over Florida High freshman Max Metcalf (13th). Pickren found a way in extra time to collect a takedown for the championship match, decisioning Taylor, 3-1.
The skinny — 3rd place: After losing to Pickren in the semis, Haynes had a pair of tightly-fought battles on the backside, but was able to push through both of them, first past Griffin, 9-7, in the consi semis, and then turning back Metcalf, 3-1 in overtime, for third place. Metcalf had punched his ticket for states with an overtime victory in what served as a rematch of the District 2 title matchup, overcoming Wakulla’s Rolin Malik, 8-6, to move on.
The skinny — Championship: Clay senior Dale Browning (2nd statewide) scored bonus points at each phase of the runup to the final, with pins on Friday in both rounds and then a 12-0 major over Arnold’s Alex Cao (15th) in the semifinals. In the bottom half of the bracket, Bishop Kenny’s Kyle Black had a fall and tech fall on Friday, then overcame Raines sophomore Jaquan English (6th), 10-8, in the semis. Browning picked up his second region title with an 8-1 victory in the championship match.
The skinny — 3rd place: English rallied immediately from the semifinal loss, first with a consi-semi fall over Bradford’s Jason Griffis, and then taking an injury-default victory over Florida High’s Bryan Metcalf (5th), whom English had decisioned in the quarters on Friday. Metcalf had won three times to make it into the state field after that loss, with two falls and then a 10-9 decision over Cao in the blood round.
The skinny — Championship: Clay senior Derek Miller (3rd statewide) pinned his way into the final, with a pair of first-period pins on Friday and then a third-period fall, in 5:01, over Suwannee freshman Julian Borrell in the semis. In the top half, Arnold junior Richie McClanahan (1st) had a forfeit win in the first round, then a fall in the quarters and tech fall in 3:30 over Wakulla junior Max Owen (13th). In the title match, again a rematch of the Clay Rotary final, this time the tables were turned in extra time, as Miller scored a takedown for a 4-2 victory over the defending state champion.
The skinny — 3rd place: Owen rallied from the loss to McClanahan with two majors (in which he didn’t give up a single point) to take third, qualifying for states with a major over Bolles’ KJ Fagan and then picking up a 10-0 major over Borrell in the placing match. Borrell had a tougher fight for his state berth, punching his ticket with a 3-2 decision over Bishop Kenny’s Andrew Slade (16th).
The skinny — Championship: Clay senior Julian Summa (1st statewide) made it 3 Blue Devil titles in a row with his victory. Summa got to the finals behid a forfeit, 13-3 major over Marianna senior Marquez Patterson-Rhodes in the quarters and a fall in 4:22 over Florida High junior Max Harris (9th) in the semi. The top half saw Arnold sophomore Andrew St. Amant (14th) advance to the final with all bonus-point wins, falls on Friday and an 11-3 major decision over West Nassau’s William Tharpe in the semis. Summa added another fall in the title match, pinning St. Amant in 2:45 for his title.
The skinny — 3rd place: Harris dusted himself off quickly enough to punch his ticket for states, first pinning Bolles’ Gray Creed in the third period of the blood-round match, and then decisioning Patterson-Rhodes, 10-3, for third place. Patterson-Rhodes had won three times to get to the placing round, with a decision and forfet before decisioning Tharpe, 9-7, in the consi semis.
The skinny — Championship: Clay senior Keath Sawdo (6th statewide) had bonus points on each step along the way to the final, with two falls (the second in the quarters over Marianna’s Max Martinez) on Friday and then a 14-1 major over Florida High sophomore Jake Richardson in the semis. The top half of the bracket saw Arnold senior Dylan Tuttle (9th) sandwich a 6-4 quarterfinal decision against Wakulla’s Hunter Royce (7th) with a pair of falls, the second against Bolles senior Conner Cronk (16th) in 1:55 during the semis. The title match was tightly-contested, with Sawdo overcoming Tuttle for a 3-2 victory.
The skinny — 3rd place: Cronk rallied from the loss to Tuttle with two bonus-point victories, the first a fall in the consi semis over Martinez and then a 13-2 major over Richardson for third place. Richardson repeated his District 2 title victory in the consi semis, decisioning Royce, 8-6, in the blood round to get out to state.
The skinny — Championship: Arnold senior Paul Patterson (4th statewide) nearly achieved maximum points for the Marlins, but didn’t have a single match go the full six minutes. Patterson had a fall and tech fall on Friday, then picked up a second-period fall in 3:21 over Suwannee’s Joey Borrell in the semis. On the bottom half of the bracket, Marianna senior Christian McIntire defeated two state-ranked opponents to get to the title, with a fall and 18-5 major over Clay sophomore Connor Green (6th) in the quarters, then an 8-4 victory over Pedro Menendez’s Avery Samples (8th) in the semi. However, Patterson needed just 22 seconds to earn a second victory in two weeks over McIntire, taking a fall for the title.
The skinny — 3rd place: After the one-sided loss in the quarters, Green gave four different opponents on the back side equally one-sided losses, as he picked up four pins. Green pinned Borrell in the consi semis, and then followed that up in the third-place match with a fall in 1:56 over Bolles senior Michael Surenyan, who’d lost by fall to Borrell in the quarters. Surenyan rallied from that with two falls and a 7-5 decision over Samples in the blood round to punch his ticket.
The skinny — Championship: Suwannee junior Billy Jenkins (7th statewide) didn’t win a district title, but put himself into the region finals with three falls, none of which required him to go into the third period. Jenkins pinned Bishop Snyder’s Azim Hameed in the quarters and then followed that up with a fall against Mosley’s Jarkeis Bass in the semis — both district champs. On the bottom side, Florida High’s Drew Hostetter (9th), who was fourth in District 2 due to resting an injury, proved himself ready to go by making finals through two majors and then a 4-3 decision victory over District 2 champ Cornelius Brown (11th) of Godby. Jenkins avenged a regular-season loss to Hostetter, though, with a fall in 4:47 for the title.
The skinny — 3rd place: Westside senior Caleb Gibbs, who’d lost to Brown by disqualification in the quarters on Friday, won four matches to take third, with two falls and two decisions. Gibbs pinned Bass in the second period in the consi semis, then decisioned Brown, 5-1, for third place. Brown earned his way into the field with a 10-9 blood-round win over Hameed.
The skinny — Championship: Florida High sophomore Will Haigler (6th statewide) became his school’s first region champion, with a fall and three decisions. En route to the final, Haigler decisioned Rutherford junior Yakeif Duncan 13-9 in the quarters on Friday and then Clay’s Caleb Steinmetz (7th) 9-3 in the semis. In the top half of the bracket, Wakulla’s Chris Surace (5th) ensured another District 2 rematch in the final, with three pins to get there, including a quarterfinal pin over Marianna sophomore Cole Maddox (12th) and fall in 5:46 in the semis over Episcopal’s Christian Rickey. The District 2 title rematch went the same way it had at districts, however, but it required extra time for Haigler to secure it, winning 10-8 in overtime.
The skinny — 3rd place: After falling to Surace in the quarters, Maddox had to win four matches to come all the way back for third, with a pin and three decisions. Maddox decisioned Steinmetz, 5-2, to escape the blood round, then defeated Duncan, 11-7, for third. Duncan earned his way through to state with a 6-5 victory over Rickey in the consi semis.
The skinny — Championship: Arnold senior Brian Girard (3rd statewide) pinned his way to the finals without having to go past the second period, falling Bolles’ Caleb Calhoun in 2:27 in the semis. Likewise, Clay freshman Abbott Taylor pinned his way to the final, with a first-round fall over Rickards’ Jaden Merritt and a semifinal pin in 3:14 against Wakulla senior Josh Strickland (8th). Girard, though, was too much for Taylor in the final, taking a 9-2 victory for the championship.
The skinny — 3rd place: Yulee senior RJ Adams (10th) lost in the first round, 9-8, but then didn’t lose again for the rest of the tournament, taking five victories for third on three falls and a pair of decisions. Adams pinned Calhoun in the third period of the blood round, and then decisioned Strickland for third place, 7-4. Strickland earned his place at state next week with a second-period fall over Merritt in the consi semis, following his loss to Taylor.
The skinny — Championship: Clay junior Kaleb Collins (2nd statewide) pinned his way into the final without going past the second period, falling Wakulla’s Andrew Annand in the quarters and then Bozeman’s Ryan Kruger in 3:33 in the semis. In the bottom half of the bracket, Florida High junior Cam Brown (3rd statewide) likewise pinned his way through without going past the second, falling Marianna sophomore Nick English in the quarters and then Wewahitchka freshman Alex Edwards in 1:12 for his semifinal win. Collins was able to outlast Brown in double-overtime, however, escaping with a 6-5 decision and the region title.
The skinny — 3rd place: After winning his first two matches by fall and then losing by fall to Brown in the semis, Edwards bagged two more pins to take third. First to fall was Annand in the blood round, but Edwards wasn’t done yet, winning with a pin over English in 4:04, good for third place. English got out with three wins — all by fall — with the third one a 33-second pin over Kruger to advance to states.
The skinny — Championship: Arnold senior Randy Koscak (6th statewide) pinned his way through the draw without going past the second period at any point, including a fall in 1:59 over Pedro Menendez’s Joseph Phelts in the semifinals. In the bottom half of the bracket, Episcopal’s Scott Dollison (3rd) also pinned his way through, falling Baker County’s Corey Paine (14th) in 51 seconds to get to the final. Koscak gained the title with a second-period fall over Dollison.
The skinny — 3rd place: Clay senior Jeremy Beaulieu (9th) rallied from a quarterfinal loss by fall to Phelts with four victories to come back all the way to third, decisioning Paine 10-4 in the blood round and then pinning Wakulla senior Austin Beaulieu in 24 seconds to take third. Austin Beaulieu had lost to Payne in the quarters, but rallied with three wins to get out to state, the last a forfeit victory over Phelts.
The skinny — Championship: Episcopal senior Conor Chepenik (3rd statewide) reached the final with two falls on Friday (the second over Suwannee’s Rossie Williams) and then decisioned Clay senior Roland Samec (9th), 4-1, to get to the title match. In the top of the bracket, Wakulla sophomore Jacob Marin (7th) had two falls sandwiched around a 7-2 decision over Bishop Kenny’s Josiah McCallum, with the second pin in 3:15 over Godby’s Devaughn Stephens in the semis. Chepenik needed two overtimes to win the title, his first region championship, 2-1 over Marin in the finals.
The skinny — 3rd place: After losing to Chepenik in the semis, Samec had an overtime consi-semi victory over McCallum, 7-5, and then pinned Stephens in 55 seconds to finish third. Stephens reached the placing round with an overtime victory of his own over Williams (8th) in the blood round, 3-2.