By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
ST JOHNS — In the final tuneup for both teams before post-season competition, Creekside won the first four matches at home against Middleburg Wednesday night and never trailed, taking a 47-30 victory over the Broncos in a matchup of 2A-Region 1 rivals.
The St Johns Knights opened up a 21-0 behind falls at 113 and 120 from Colin Brown and Jake Summers, respectively, plus a 12-5 decision from Luke Davis at 106.
Middleburg got as close as nine points, 21-12, at one point on back-to-back falls from Bryce Williams at 132 and Dustin Tollison at 138, but Jacob Cooney’s 10-4 win at 145 turned momentum back Creekside’s way, and the Knights would keep a double-digit lead for the rest of the dual.
“We’re gearing up for districts now. We’ll make some adjustments and see how the chips fall,” Creekside coach Rick Marabell said. “It hurts losing Saul (Storey, the Knights’ starting 220 and a 2016 district champion), but I think the guys will step up to the challenge.”
After Cooney’s win at 145, the teams traded pins at 152 and 160, with Brendan Jones winning by fall for the Knights and Cody Eastwood for the Broncos, respectively.
Brandon Dickman then won by technical fall just five seconds into the third period, and the teams traded 12 points each after the tech, with Creekside’s two forfeit wins at 195 and 220 offset by Bronco falls at 182 and 285 from Bryan Heflin and Robert Barnard, respectively.
“Cooney was out for a week and wrestled really well. Luke was out for a bit and he wrestled well at the beginning. Dickman, he’s a machine. Our lighter weights did very well, even our middles did well. They’re just young,” Marabell said.
Although Middleburg never led in the dual, it did slightly outpoint Creekside in contested matches, 30-29, but coming in with 11 wrestlers put the Broncos at a decided disadvantage.
“It’s always a tough match for us and it’s a tough match for them. Our effort level has been high all year, but our effort tonight was as low as we’ve seen it this year,” Middleburg coach Richie Dusinberre said. “We’re not happy with the effort. It’s still fundamentals with our young guys. We’re getting beat with the same stuff. We’ll take what we learned tonight and apply it. We’re looking ahead to districts right now.”
Both teams have completed their regular seasons with Wednesday night’s duals. Creekside will begin the post-season run first, with 2A-District 4 scheduled on February 15 at Matanzas. Middleburg is now off until February 18, when it will compete in the 2A-District 3 meet at Terry Parker.