By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Nease needed just one of its bigs to come up with a W Wednesday night.
The St Johns Panthers had to sweat into extra time to get it.
In order to hold off visiting Atlantic Coast’s strength in the upper weights, Nease needed one win, and it came on 170-pound Grayson Suggs’ best shot of the night, with seconds left in sudden victory.
Suggs converted the takedown, got the 5-3 decision, and clinched the dual on behalf of his team, as Nease went on to take a 39-32 win over the Stingrays.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that were away, that are just now getting back, but movement-wise and execution-wise, our guys are getting better,” Nease coach Craig Muckle said. We’re pushing chain wrestling — the more you move, the more moves are open to you. The kids’ intensity has picked up and they’ve jumped to it.”
The Panthers (7-2) had an ideal starting weight for building up points early, with three wins by forfeits in the first four weights to go with pins by Brenden Teaman (126) and Aidan Pagana (138), opening a 30-0 lead.
Atlantic Coast (4-6) got two wins back, cutting that lead to 30-12 behind pins from Tywaine Rochebrun (145) and Thomas Jones (152). After a Nease forfeit at 160, that set up an even-looking match at 170 between Suggs and AC’s Seth McQuaig.
Ultimately, the first successful offensive move on the feet wound up winning the match — and with it, the dual.
“That locked the dual for us,” Muckle said of Suggs’ win. “He showed a lot of heart. Carried the team for us. A lot of our top guys won by forfeits tonight and he stepped up and took over.”
He needed to, because AC’s bigs were too much for the Panthers, as both Uriah Ford (182) and Jamari Broussard (195) both romped to easy major decisions.
“The takeaway will be for us to just keep working. Apply what we’re doing in practice to matches. And be more collective as a team,” Atlantic Coast coach Montavis Mack said. “Right now, we’ve got some talented heavies, but a lot of individuals out there. We need to come together as a unit.”
The dual ended on a muted note when Nease senior Jonathan Walter landed awkwardly in the second period of the final match of the night at 220, losing consciousness briefly before recovering and being taken from the gym on a stretcher with a shoulder injury. That led to a win by injury-default for his opponent, AC’s Darius Idlebird.
Nease will be off until Friday, when it competes in the two-day Flagler Duals in Palm Coast, while Atlantic Coast will take part in Ed White’s one-day Commander Duals event.