By SHANNON HEATON & OLIVIA CERIO
Northeast Florida Matmen
(Editor’s Note: Olivia Cerio is a reporter for the Tomahawk Talk, Florida High’s student newspaper. Olivia provided us with quotes from the winning and runnerup coaches and took an action photo and 13 photos of weight-class champions. Olivia’s effort is Matmen’s first in encouraging student journalism and its publication in an ongoing media platform.)
TALLAHASSEE — Sometimes the price of winning a tournament is a long, long drive.
And it is a long way from Pembroke Pines to Tallahassee, but that was the task set before Somerset Academy, which won the 2015 Capital City Classic last year and successfully defended its crown this year.
A year ago, Somerset had a tight battle with Arnold for top honors; this year, it was Northwest Matmen preseason #1 Florida High that pressed most closely. At the end, Somerset outpointed the Seminoles, 249-214.5, for the title.
“I think it was a good team performance; the kids came together (very well),” Somerset coach Joe Blasucci said. “We had nine in the semifinals and five in the finals, so overall they wrestled well. Some of the younger kids were really young, and they wrestled above their ages.
“Every week, we want to win, wherever we go. In the end, it’s about being as high as we can be at the state tournament and having as many state placers and champions as possible. We’re traveling the whole state, trying to take on everybody and see who’s out there.”
Florida High felt somewhat better after not being able to hold down top honors last week at its own Seminole Wrestling Classic.
“We did a little better than we did last week; we weren’t very happy that Lincoln ended up ahead of us, but we wrestled pretty well this weekend,” Seminoles coach Clay Allen said. “Long-term, our goal is to try to be district champs, get a trophy at the region, and try to be top-five at the state.
“So we’ve just got to continue to come every week and commit to the process of work hard and improving every day, every minute, of every practice, and if we can do that, then we’ll be able to achieve that end result of those three goals.”
Florida High wrestlers Jake Richardson (lowers) and Will Haigler (uppers) were named as the tournament’s outstanding wrestlers.
Northwest #2 Lincoln was third in the team race with 199 points, followed closely by #4 (NW) Wakulla at 194 and #10 (Northeast) Suwannee fifth at 190. Columbia, with 126 points, was sixth, with #3 (NW) Arnold seventh at 122, Niceville making an impact with an eighth-place showing at 117 points, #6 (NE) Bishop Kenny at 105 for ninth and #5 (NW) Pace 10th at 94.
HM (NW) and host Chiles was 12th at 78, with Leon 13th (76), Choctaw 14th (73), HM (NW) Mosley 15th (67.5), Marianna 16th at 57 and University Christian 17th at 56.
Matanzas was 18th with 43 points, with Robert E. Lee and Milton tied for 19th at 40, Godby 21st at 32 and Raines 22nd at 30.
A breakdown of each individual weight-class follows:
106 — Suwannee’s Brandon Trask, a senior, was the Bulldogs’ first of two champions in the tournament, with a tech fall, a pin and two decisions, taking down Wakulla’s Matthew Owen, 7-1, in the semis and University Christian 8th-grader Matthew Rodriquez, 5-1, in the final. Rodriquez had punched his ticket to the final with three pins, including a fall over Florida High’s Brooks Dyer in 33 seconds in the semis. Owen pinned Dyer for third place in 2:31 and Niceville’s Lee Hamilton pinned Somerset’s Chase Gillis in 4:22 for fifth.
113 — University Christian junior Daniel Porter didn’t surrender a takedown all weekend, with two falls to get to the semis, where he decisioned Choctaw’s Jerson Cabiao, 8-2, and took an 8-3 victory over Lincoln sophomore Mark Munroe in the final. Munroe pinned his way to the final, including a fall in 3:35 over Niceville’s Dominic Cerillo in the semis. Cerillo majored Suwannee’s Tyler Ogles, 11-3, for third place and Cabiao pinned Florida High’s Tyler Reeve in 44 seconds for fifth.
120 — Somerset 8th grader Lucas Willis — who’d transferred from Imagine School in North Port to start this season — dominated this bracket, with a tech fall and three falls to win the championship. Willis pinned Bishop Kenny’s Jack Delaney in 1:08 in the semis and Wakulla senior Larry Smith in 3:30 to win the bracket. Likewise, Smith had pinned his way through to the final, falling Somerset’s Darian Estevez in 2:33 in the semis. Delaney decisioned Estevez, 6-4, for third place, while Lincoln’s Ikeon Myles edged Suwannee’s Chase Clark, 2-1, for fifth.
126 — Columbia junior Chace Curtis had two pins on Friday and two decisions on Saturday to win the championship, with a pair of close matches over Wakulla’s Max Owen, 4-3, in the semi and Arnold sophomore Ethan Pickren, 3-1, to win in the final. Pickren had reached the final behind three pins, including a fall in the semis over Florida High’s Max Metcalf, in 3:33. Owen downed Metcalf, 4-2, for third, and Logan Myer of Choctaw decisioned Lincoln’s Tyree Young, 10-8, for fifth.
132 — Arnold senior William Pickren bagged bonus points in every round of the tournament to win it, with two falls in the early rounds and a 15-5 major over Chiles’ Logan Mellor in the semis. In the final, against Florida High junior Bryan Metcalf, Pickren picked up a third pin in 3:23. Metcalf had gotten to the final with two pins of his own and an 11-6 semifinal win over Raines’ Jaquan English. English broke back with two falls on the back side, including a 56-second pin over Columbia’s Matt Ross for third, and Mellor pinned Suwannee’s Kenneth Foster in 2:39 for fifth.
138 — Somerset junior Daniel Valledor got to Saturday with a fall and decision, reaching the championship with wins over two different Florida High wrestlers, taking down Max Harris, 10-6, in the semis, and senior Duncan Weaver with a 12-3 major in the final. Weaver had a tech and two decisions earlier in the bracket, including a 6-2 win over Suwannee’s Julian Borrell in the semi. Borrell pinned Harris in 1:32 for third, and Columbia’s Daniel Mann majored Mosley’s Shane Ferry, 8-0, for third.
145 — In his first action of the season, Richardson, a junior, won five matches — all via bonus points — to earn gold and the lower-weight OW for the Seminoles. Prelim matches Friday netted a major, fall and tech, with Richardson majoring Wakulla’s Noah Wilson 11-1 in the semi and then falling Suwannee senior Joey Borrell — also seeing his first action of the season — in the second period of the finals. Borrell had four pins to get to the final, including a fall of Somerset’s Eric Temes in 1:26 in the semis. Temes rallied for third place, winning 7-3 over Chiles’ Austin Nolan, and Columbia’s Matt Raulerson won by forfeit over Wilson for fifth.
152 — Suwannee senior Tanner Clark picked up a fall and decision on both days of the tournament for the bracket, pinning Somerset’s Vinnie Blasucci in 3:53 in the semis and then turning back Marianna senior Max Martinez in a wild final, 10-9. Martinez reached the championship match with two falls and a 6-5 semifinal decision over Arnold’s Drew St. Amant. Blasucci took third place with a 1-0 win over Lincoln’s Jeremy Burke, with St. Amant winning by injury default over Florida High’s Jemel Fanfan.
160 — Lincoln junior Justin Grant won his second tournament in as many weekends, with four falls en route to the final (including a pin in 3:51 over Niceville’s Jack Johnson in the semi), where he decisioned Somerset freshman Nick Benton, 8-4, to win the championship. Benton had three pins on Friday and then decisioned Suwannee’s Billy Jenkins, 9-5, in the semi. Johnson turned back Jenkins, 5-3, for third place, while Godby’s Andrew Thaxton decisioned Columbia’s Zion James 15-8 for fifth.
170 — Somerset senior Raul Gierbolini came in without some of the accolades of those given to teammates Willis or Valledor, but Gierbolini was clearly in control of the bracket, with four falls — including a pin over Pace’s James Billhimer in 5:05 during the semi round — and a 16-4 major decision over Mosley senior Dalton Childs for the title. Childs had either pinned or teched his way through to the final himself, falling Bishop Kenny’s Nick Beenen in 1:50 in the semis. Billhimer edged Beenen, 4-3, for third place, with Lincoln’s Jared Newhall winning by an 11-1 major over Chad Sapp of Columbia for fifth.
182 — Upper-weight OW Haigler, a junior, had three falls on Friday, then majored Chiles’ Justin Lopeman 14-5 in the semis on Saturday to get to the final, where he took down Somerset senior Juan Vernaza, 3-2, to win the bracket. Vernaza had a fall and decision on Friday, but needed to go to overtime to win over Leon’s JT Grant, where he won by fall in 6:21. Arnold’s Cole Maddox pinned Grant in 4:51 for third place, with Lopeman downing Matt Cromer of Cairo GA, 5-2, for fifth.
195 — Leon’s Henry Segura also won his second tournament in as many weeks, with two pins on Friday, a 9-4 decision in the semis over Somerset’s Daniel Miranda and then a 10-4 decision over Cairo’s Jahsair Patterson in the championship match. Patterson had a decision and two falls to get to the final, including a fall in 58 seconds over Marianna’s Nick English in the semis. Pace’s Key Nettles won four matches in the consolation rounds to take third, edging Miranda 3-2 for that place, while English pinned Mosley’s Nick O’Brien in 42 seconds for fifth.
220 — Lincoln senior Josh Martin took the bracket with three pins and a decision, pinning Wakulla’s Chayton Bussey in 3:44 in the semis and then decisioning Chiles senior Bobby Williams, 10-3, for the champioship. Williams had had two falls and a forfeit in the semi to get there himself. Bussey pinned Niceville’s Darrius Pena in 4:56 for third place, with Bishop Kenny’s John Alexander taking fifth with a forfeit victory.
285 — For the second time in as many tournaments, Wakulla heavies Darius Wilkins and Jacob Marin met in battle. Last week, at Border Wars, it was Wilkins who gave way, but on Saturday it was Marin who returned the favor, as Wilkins — who’d edged Bishop Kenny’s Josiah McCallum 7-6 in the semis after two earlier falls — won the championship. Marin had three pins and a 3-1 decision over Lincoln’s Thomas Moss to get to the final. McCallum pinned Moss in 4:49 for third and Lee’s Jordan Bell downed Pace’s Murphy Bennett 4-2 for fifth.
Brackets for the tournament have already been posted on both platforms in the Local drop-down pages for both.