By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — For different reasons, Bartram Trail coach Chad Parker and Bolles coach Matt Morris know their teams are very much “works in progress” compared to what both expect to have later on this month.
For the 7th-ranked Bears, the issue is more about fine-tuning weights and getting a few kids that need to make their cuts, to complete them. For the Bulldogs, January has often been about the business of simply assembling a team after football players start coming to the wrestling room after a long playoff run.
Tuesday night, the works in progress faced off and, as almost always happens when a team with numbers faces a team without, the team with numbers rolls to victory, and that’s what happened at Bolles Tuesday night, as the Bears combined four contested-match wins with a slew of forfeits to take a 52-12 win over the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t get as much done over the break as we wanted,” Parker said. “It’s been a little rough. Not a lot of kids in the room, and we have to get them back. We’ve yet to put a full team on the mat.”
The Bears (13-5) did send out 12 wrestlers Tuesday night, but not everyone that went out did so at their post-season weight. Still, five forfeits provided a 30-point cushion, in effect, even before anyone executed a takedown.
And big points at key times were helpful, also, as Nicholas Vugman (120), Chris Kwarteng (182) and Kolton McDaniel (220) had falls for Bartram, with Ralph Hamilton adding a 12-3 major at 152.
“Vugman is getting better. He’s not just about headlocks any more, he’s taking shots and making leg attacks. To be at the state level, a headlock alone is not going to cut it. And Kolton is getting very solid. He’s going up in the right weight direction,” Parker said of his two Tuesday captains.
“Our guys have got to get to work. They could be really good. The only thing that limits them, is themselves.”
Bolles (2-4) only sent out seven wrestlers Tuesday night, with exams coming up, with lingering illnesses and vacations in play, and football players needing to wait a little longer to certify at weights.
“We’ve got 30 kids in the room right now: some were here the first half, the rest are footballers who didn’t really come out to the room until about a week ago,” Morris said.
Bolles won three contested matches to Bartram’s four, with KJ Fagan’s second-period fall at 145 headlining the Bulldog wins. CJ Grimes (170) picked up a 12-1 major, and Caleb Calhoun (160) survived a couple of near-scares, turning both into takedowns of his own in an 8-3 win.
Bolles hits the mat Wednesday night, making the short hop over to Episcopal, while Bartram Trail will be off until Saturday, when it will be one of the favorites to win the Commander Duals at Ed White.