(UPDATE: Nease manager Cayse Clouse sent us photos of each 2A-District 3 individual champion. For…what I’ll just say are obvious reasons to me, I couldn’t use one of them, but the others all appear here)
By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
JACKSONVILLE — Like every wrestling program does every year, Orange Park had to deal with graduation loss in 2016. But the Raiders had serious firepower returning as well. Or so they thought.
Losing a three-time state qualifier (and two-time placer) and a 2016 state qualifier via transfer, however, was not on the Raiders’ agenda to go into the summer months or the 2016-17 school year, so that was something unexpected.
So, too, was injury and lineup change that had Orange Park fielding a half-varsity, half-JV team at the Parker Duals — last time the Raiders had been at Terry Parker HS — and still finish second in that event.
That Orange Park — still a capable team despite all that — would, under those conditions, be able to call themselves district champions upon the conclusion of Saturday afternoon’s wrestling at Parker, and the 2A-District 3 tournament, would be nothing short of a minor miracle.
Yet the Raiders pulled it off, defeating 2016 district champion Middleburg, 185-179, for the team title. Ridgeview, which got several shots of talent from the 2016 OPHS transfers plus an influx of several freshmen, was third with 150. Englewood was the top Duval County team in the seven-team field, taking fourth with 91 points, while the host Braves were fifth with 85 and Stanton sixth with 38. Ed White brought up the rear, with eight points.
Below follows a summary of each of the 14 weight classes contested on Saturday:
106: Orange Park freshman and second seed Cameron Broughton had to survive a pair of close decisions in order to take the title. Broughton pinned Ed White sophomore Bruce Harting in 2:29 in the quarters, but then had to run a gamut past Ridgeview freshman Gabe Guzman in the semis, 4-2, and had to survive a wild match with Middleburg freshman Tazz Hampton, the top seed, before winning, 13-10. Guzman rallied with two pins to take third for the Panthers, needing 20 seconds in the consi semis to pin Terry Parker’s Amber Goodbread, then falling Harting in 2:55 in the third-place match.
113: After missing a good chunk of January, Orange Park junior and top seed Frank Sawyer needed just one win to take the bracket. After a bye into the final of a 3-man bracket, Sawyer majored Ridgeview freshman Jonathan Kaylor, 12-1, for the title. Middleburg sophomore Logan Kline, who’d lost by fall (2:25) to Kaylor in the semis, received a bye into third place.
120: Ridgeview senior and top seed Marcus Reid won his fourth district title and first with the Panthers (previous titles were with Orange Park), with two wins en route to the championship. Reid received a bye into the semis, then pinned Englewood sophomore Dairo Guerra in 1:11 there. Reid then won the title with a victory by injury default over Orange Park sophomore Dean Ganci. Guerra would come back from the loss in the semis to take third, falling Middleburg’s Dalton Falana (2:34) in the consi semis and then majoring Stanton junior Miles Every, 13-2, for third place.
126: Middleburg sophomore and second seed Christopher Burch had two bonus-point wins in taking first place in a 3-man bracket. Burch pinned Englewood junior Tyler Crawford in 4:31 in the semifinal round, then majored Ridgeview sophomore and top seed Tanner Belden, 11-2, for the title. Crawford received a bye into third place.
132: Middleburg sophomore and top seed Bryce Williams was the first wrestler in the tournament to pin his way through, with two falls after a bye in the quarterfinals. Williams pinned Ridgeview freshman Jacob McGowan in 1:46 in the semis, then decked Orange Park sophomore Robert McGlynn in 2:19 for the title. McGowan came back to take third, falling Stanton freshman Gabriel Navearro in 1:50 in that match.
138: Ridgeview junior and top seed Saeid Ejmali earned his second district title and first with the Panthers (he, too, had won in 2016 with Orange Park), getting a bye into the semis, pinning Stanton sophomore Tymofiy Hryhorchuk in 46 seconds there, and then receiving a victory by medical forfeit over Middleburg freshman Dustin Tollison in the final. Orange Park senior Dashner St. Vilus, who’d lost by fall to Tollison (5:13) in the semis, came back to finish third, receiving a bye in the consi semi to punch his ticket for the Region 1 meet at Chiles on Friday, then downing Hryhorchuk, 8-5, in the third-place match.
145: Ridgeview freshman and top seed Malachi Martin became the second competitor in the district to pin his way through the bracket, needing just 68 seconds to complete the task. Martin got a bye in the quarters, then falled Stanton’s Bryce Battle in 23 seconds in the semi. In the final against Middleburg freshman Trenton Carroll, Martin was able to complete that fall in 45 ticks for his championship. Englewood senior Tanner Kern, who’d lost 14-2 to Carroll in the semis, came back for third with a consi-semi fall in 5:41 over Terry Parker’s China Sneed, then went overtime to turn back Orange Park sophomore Abraham Sunworbah, 14-12.
152: Orange Park freshman and top seed Jacob Campbell had two bonus-point victories to claim the title. After a bye in the quarters, Campbell majored Terry Parker’s Jason Reed, 14-2, in the semis, and then needed just 27 seconds to fall Ridgeview sophomore Reed Propes for the title. Englewood senior Deion Marshall, after losing 13-6 to Propes in the semis, received a bye into the third-place match, where he downed Middleburg senior Joe Manfredi, 6-3.
160: Terry Parker senior and top seed D’Angelo Johnson was the third wrestler to pin his way through his bracket. After a bye in the quarters, Johnson pinned Stanton junior Mitchell Mika (1:47) in the semis, then repeated his Gateway Conference opening-round fall over Englewood senior Tavian Whitehead, this time in a time of 4:22 for the district title. Middleburg senior Cody Eastwood, who’d lost 9-8 to Whitehead in the semis, had two bonus-point wins on the back side, falling Ridgeview’s John Tiedeman in 2:29 in the consi semis and majoring Mika, 12-2, for third place.
170: Orange Park senior and top seed Nartorian Lee picked up two bonus-point wins. After a bye into the semis, Lee needed 1:41 to pin Ridgeview sophomore Keine Avery in the semis, and then majored Middleburg senior Dylan Hanna, 15-2, for the championship. Terry Parker sophomore Landon Dains, who’d lost 6-0 to Hanna in the semis, received a bye into the third-place match, where he won by technical fall, 15-0, over Avery.
182: Orange Park junior and second seed Reed Danielson forged his way to the championship behind a bye in the quarters, fall in 5:46 over Middleburg junior Bryan Heflin in the semis, and then overcoming top-seeded Englewood senior Michel Augustin, 5-3, in the finals. Heflin had two pins on the back side to take third, pinning Ridgeview’s Craig Zacker in 1:36 in the consi semis, and then pinning Terry Parker junior Boakai Kanneh in 52 seconds for third.
195: In a two-man bracket, Terry Parker sophomore and second seed Ben Sabella won by fall in 5:06 over Orange Park freshman Noah St. Vilus to take the title.
220: Orange Park senior and top seed Tyler Dehart became the fourth to pin his way through a bracket, with a pair of first-period falls. Dehart pinned Stanton senior Michael Montalbo in 1:17 in the semis, then took just 1:04 in the final to win over Terry Parker senior Zachary Smith. Montalbo came back to take third place with a 3-0 decision over Englewood sophomore Christopher Lands.
285: Middleburg senior Bailey Barnard pinned his way through the bracket, the fifth to do so in the tournament and first to collect three pins in so doing. Barnard pinned Ed White’s Jordan Wilson in 47 seconds in the quarters, pinned Orange Park’s Jordan Cooper in 1:30 in the semi, and then falled Englewood junior Karam Hill in 1:45 for the title. Ridgeview junior Kenneth Tresvant, who’d lost by fall in 1:59 in the semis to Hill, won two tight decisions to take third, going OT to defeat Wilson, 4-2, in the consi semis, and then winning 5-4 in the third-place match over Terry Parker sophomore Evan Jefferson.