Northeast Florida Matmen staff report
SANTA ROSA BEACH — The first weekend of December is often a feeling-out period for most wrestling teams, getting younger kids much-needed mat time and simply getting wrestlers taking on opponents rather than teammates.
That’s not what Border Wars is all about.
Winning this tournament, with some of the best teams from Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia as well as in-state, might be just as difficult as winning state — if not more so.
For area wrestlers Marcus Reid of Ridgeview (120), Flagler Palm Coast’s Avery Holder (132) and Jacob Marin of Wakulla (285), all three passed that difficult first test this past weekend, as all brought home gold from the two-day tournament, which has both a round-robin component on Friday and a 16-man IBT bracket in each weight class.
Reid had a first-round bye in the 120 bracket, then picked up pins over Thompson ALA’s Emmanuel Oliver (1:35) and Holy Cross LA’s Jacob Spahn (5:26) to reach the final against Blake Mateu of Archbishop Rummel, where he took a 6-2 decision.
Holder won four matches on Saturday, with a first-round fall over Chiles’ Logan Mellor (3:15), a 13-3 major in the quarters over Ridgeview’s Saeid Ejmali and then an 11-6 decision in the semis over the top seed in the IBT, Holy Cross’ Cole Clement. Holder made it four wins with a 6-2 decision over Arnold’s William Pickren in the final.
Marin had pins in the first round over Arnold’s Jared Hammer (1:41) and in the quarters over Flagler’s Vincent Ebanks (3:59), then got a walkover against teammate Darius Wilkins to reach the final against Vestavia Hills ALA’s Jacob Edwards. There, Marin took a 5-2 decision for the championship.
FPC’s John Johnson (113), Michael DeAugustino (126), Michael Martins (145) and Steve Canidate (182), as well as Arnold’s Pickren and Marianna’s Nick English (195), all were runners-up in the tournament.
Johnson had a fall, major and decision before falling, 8-3, to Thompson ALA’s Chandler Akins in the final. DeAugustino had a bye, major and decision in the 126 bracket, and went into double-OT with Thompson’s Gabe Hixenbaugh before taking a 2-1 loss in the final. Martins had a major, a forfeit, and a decision before Jesuit LA’s Eli Larriviere shut him out, 4-0, in the 145 final, and Canidate had a fall, decision and major before taking a 13-2 loss against Holy Cross’ Michael Benton.
The Holder bracket and quartet of finalists led Flagler (#T-2 in the Northeast Matmen preseason poll) to a third-place finish with 196 points, far outdistancing all other Florida teams in the tournament, won by Holy Cross with 292.5 points. Jesuit was second at 247 and Thompson fourth with 193.5, with Vestavia Hills fifth at 155.
Pickren had three falls to get to the finals and Holder at 132, while English won twice by fall before losing by a fall of his own to Holy Cross’ Spencer Rayes, in 1:15.
Area wrestlers taking thirds were Wakulla’s Larry Smith (120), Columbia’s Chace Curtis (126) and Daniel Mann (138), Niceville’s Jack Johnson (160), Chiles’ Gavin Hoard (170) and Bobby Williams (220), and Wakulla’s Wilkins at 285.
Fourths went to: Niceville’s Lee Hamilton (106), Pace’s Leland Knoch (113), Flagler’s Trace Insalaco (138), Arnold’s Drew St. Amant (152), Columbia’s Zion James (160), Ft Walton Beach’s Chase Cleveland (170) and Joseph Pearson (285), Chiles’ Justin Lopeman (182), Wakulla’s John Trevor Hinsey (195) and Marlon Ng (220).
Wrestlers taking fifth and sixth were Dominic Cerillo of Niceville (sixth at 113), Alex Porter of Tate (sixth at 120), Ethan Pickren of Arnold (fifth at 126), Kendall Townley of Tate (fifth at 138), Curtis Brock of Flagler Palm Coast (sixth at 160), Cole Maddox of Arnold (fifth at 182), Key Nettles of Pace (fifth at 195) and Alex Edwards of Wewahitchka (sixth at 195).
Team-wise, Wakulla (#4 in the Northwest preseason rankings) was sixth with 145 points, while #3 Arnold was eighth with 132.5 and HM-listed (NW) Chiles was 10th at 92.5. Columbia was 12th with 86 points, while #5 (NW) Pace was 13th at 74.5 and HM-listed (NE) Ridgeview 14th with 70.
Niceville and Ft Walton Beach tied for 16th with 63.5 points, with Tate 20th at 48.5, Marianna 21st at 48, Wewahitchka 22nd at 39, Mosley 23rd at 26.5 and South Walton 24th at 24.
Complete results have been posted to both Matmen platforms today.