North Florida Matmen staff report
KISSIMMEE — It’s progress, and at the highest levels of Florida high school wrestling, that takes on a very different meaning.
Last year, Fleming Island was a very distant fourth at the 2016 Knockout Christmas Classic, with one champion, and their Region 1 rivals right on their heels in the team classification.
Saturday, the top-ranked (NE) Golden Eagles were in the team race at least until the morning semifinals, brought home two brackets this year, and finished third — 44.5 points ahead of fourth-place Lake Gibson, 74.5 ahead of fifth-place Union Grove, GA, and 78.5 ahead of Southwest Miami, which finished above Fleming Island a year ago.
But Fleming Island’s goals aren’t measured by just progress. Chasing down South Dade is, and although the Buccaneers didn’t win the team title — thanks in some part to a Matmen-area competitor who bagged a Knockout bracket of his own — they were in the hunt to do so, falling just short to defending Georgia state champions Camden County, 226.5-223.5, when the smoke cleared Saturday evening.
Jaquan English was Fleming’s first champion on the night, bringing home the 132 bracket. English turned back Southwest Miami’s Julian Hernandez, 6-4, in the semis, setting up a finals match with top seed Bryson Neace of Union Grove in the final. There, English had enough offense to extend his season record to 36-1, with a 5-3 decision and the title.
Paul Detwiler won the Golden Eagles’ other title, competing at 170. Like English, Detwiler entered the tournament as the second seed, and, like English, he had a pair of decisions on Saturday, starting with a 4-2 win in the semis over Lincoln’s Justin Grant. That put Detwiler into the finals against Lake Gibson’s Ashton Habeil, a 2A state champion in 2017. Unfazed, Detwiler put together enough combinations to stave off Habeil, winning by a 10-6 count.
Briar Jackson (113) was the first finalist for the Golden Eagles, but his bid for a Knockout title was just one point short. After winning 8-3 over top-seeded Devin Sweeney of Potomac, VA, in the semis, Jackson found his offense shut down by Camden County’s Nick Krug, who took a 1-0 decision in the championship match.
Fleming Island had three additional semifinalists that placed on Saturday.
At 106, Louis Gagliardo fell in the semis, 6-4, to eventual champ Luis Peraza of South Dade, rallying for two wins on the back side to take third, setting the pace in a 9-2 decision over Camden’s Nathan Orum in the third-place match. Albie Snedaker (120) lost to eventual champ Bretli Reyna of South Dade, 16-4, in the semis, came back with a win in the consi semis, but took a 6-1 loss to Hagerty’s Dylan Kohn in the third-place match. Finally, Jose Concepcion (285) lost by fall in the semis to South Dade’s Trayvonne Jackson, dropping a consi-semi match, but then edging Osceola’s Dion Bergan, 3-2, in the ultimate tiebreaker.
Four Fleming Island wrestlers in the consis — Jacob Sandoval (126), Dalton Williams (138), Jeffrey Lascano (182) and Jalyn Robinson (195) — all were 1-1 on Saturday, losing in the blood round. Trace Insalaco (160) lost his only Saturday match in the wrestlebacks.
Bishop Kenny finished tied for 20th in the 38-team field with 51 points, but came back to Jacksonville with a Knockout bracket, as fourth-seeded Josiah McCallum had a pair of 2-1 victories to take the championship. McCallum stopped top seed Joshua Isaac of Potomac, VA, in the semis, to set up a final against second seed Jackson in the final. There, too, McCallum did enough for a 2-1 win in the final, and in accomplishing the feat, allowed Camden County to preserve defense of its team championship.
The Crusaders’ Jack Delaney (120) was 1-1 on Saturday, falling just short of a Knockout medal, while Joey Cusick (152) was 0-1 in the consis.
The Tallahassee area finished the day with two medalists, as top-ranked (NW) Lincoln was tied for 25th at 38 points and third-ranked (NW) Florida High was 33rd with 24. Both teams had one Knockout medalist.
For the Trojans, Grant at 170 finished third, with a pair of falls following his loss to Detwiler in the semis. The second of those came in 3:21 in the third-place match over Hagerty’s Justin Segarra. Likewise at 182, Florida High’s Will Haigler was fourth after an 11-3 semifinal loss to eventual champ Cole Mitchell of Cocoa Beach. Haigler came back with a major in the consi semis, but then lost 17-5 in the third-place match to South Dade’s Mikael Fundora.
Two Tallahassee wrestlers in the 113 consis — Lincoln’s Mark Munroe and Florida High’s Brooks Dyer — lost their initial matches on Saturday.
Complete brackets, with team scores, can be found here.