Northeast Florida Matmen staff report
COCOA — December was not an easy month for the Episcopal wrestling team. Three wrestlers, lots of dual losses, reasonable individual success…but always back to just the three kids in the varsity lineup.
This past week, that number has more than doubled, and that in and of itself is a positive for the Eagles even before they recorded their first dual victory of the 2016-17 season on Saturday at the two-day Viper Duals event hosted by Space Coast HS.
Freshmen Cooper Helton and Robert Jackson, along with 7th grader Kaiman Clark, made their first varsity appearances of the season this week for the Eagles, but the most notable new face — for this year — was the return of freshman Kyle Hopkins.
And Hopkins, competing at either 113 or 120 depending on the dual, made an immediate impact, going 7-1 on the weekend with a fall against Oasis on Friday night, three major decisions (Atlantic & Viera on Friday, Cocoa Beach on Saturday), plus a decision against Merritt Island Saturday. His only loss was a 3-0 decision in the final dual of the weekend to The Master’s Academy’s Dylan Kohn, who is state-ranked in 1A.
The best performance of the weekend came from senior Christian Rickey (170/182) who was 8-0 with two pins (Viera and Lyman) and two decisions (Atlantic & Oasis) on Friday, and two pins (Cocoa Beach and Space Coast), a tech (Master’s Academy) and major against Merritt Island.
Reid Hampton (126/132) was 6-2 with five pins, while Freddie Dollison (220) was 5-3, with four pins. Clark (Oasis) and Helton (Master’s Academy) each recorded their first varsity falls.
In duals, the story was mostly the same — although Episcopal was close in all but one of its duals on Friday — but the Eagles did break through on the win column in the final dual of the event, a 36-27 victory over The Master’s Academy.
Episcopal is now off until Tuesday, when it hosts Bishop Kenny.