By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — The last time that Fletcher won the Gateway Conference championship, the Senator seniors were freshmen.
And they’re wanting to get back on top. For them, and for both the honorable-mention listed (in the preseason team poll listed here) Senators and #6 Bishop Kenny, the journey began Wednesday night, with Fletcher taking seven bonus-point wins en route to a 40-33 victory in the season-opener not only for both teams, but for the Northeast coverage area as a whole.
“This year, we’ve got a lot of seniors; a couple of them were sick and out, but this is their year to do something,” Senators coach David Harrison said. “We want other people to know that we’re here. We are no longer satisfied with just one kid going to state. Minimum, we can get three kids there.
“We’re not here to play second fiddle to anybody.”
After spotting the Crusaders an early 3-0 lead, the Senators won three of the next four contested matches, with an additional forfeit, to generate a 23-9 cushion behind falls from Bryce Bednarski (220), Bradley Lonergan (113) and a tech fall for Trent Dalldorf (120). Ivante White (132) added another pin two matches later.
Bishop Kenny would rally behind a bit of a run of its own in the middle weights, with four falls between 126 and 152 coming from Jack Delaney (126), Andrew Slade (138), Joey Cusick (145) and Sid Madison (152). Madison’s fall gave the Crusaders a 33-29 lead with two weights to go.
“Give (Kenny coach) Paul (Schloth) credit, he had some good kids coming in,” Harrison said of the Crusader middles. “We were just trying to fill holes and wrestle some kids up.”
A pair of Senator seniors closed down the dual for good, however, as Owen Beining (160) won by tech fall in the third period and Julion Fix (170) clinched the victory with a first-period pin.
“This was good, it was what they needed,” Schloth said of his team. “We need to be woken up by another team. We have kids that have got to make weight, but no excuses — they were tough, and it was a good match.
“Like I told the kids, there were some guys who did what we expected, some I felt good about and some I wasn’t so impressed by. But it will all even out in the end.”
Match-by-match results from the dual can be found on our Duals page here and, in a first this year, on the Orlando Sentinel’s dual results page here. Because of the late start of the dual, results could not be sent in time to make print deadlines for the Florida Times-Union, and they will be sent Thursday with expected publication in Friday’s paper.
Both teams will compete next on Saturday at the North Florida Duals, hosted by Bishop Snyder. Rounds for that event are expected to be announced on Friday here.