North Florida Matmen staff report
GONZALES, LA — It is taking a state-champion level of talent to turn back the Wakulla team this year.
We saw that at Border Wars. We saw it at Capital City. We saw it in the War Eagles’ win at Beast on the Beach (Editor’s Note: Story WILL be coming on that one. Promise. Hopefully tonight.).
And we saw it this past weekend at the Deep South Bayou Duals, as only two state champion teams were able to turn back the War Eagles, which finished third in the 24-team, two-day tournament at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center Saturday.
Wakulla had just one loss in pool play, falling to long-time Georgia state power Jefferson, 37-25, in the second round of Pool A competition, with victories over four Louisiana teams: Sulphur (57-18), St Michael the Archangel (69-12), St Louis (50-13) and Catholic Brothers (36-33).
On Saturday, the War Eagles got to the semifinals, rolling past East Ascension (LA), 49-20, and pushing past South Paulding (GA), 37-36, before running into one of the two strongest teams in Louisiana, Holy Cross, taking a 54-12 loss there. Wakulla responded with a solid win over a very good long-time Louisiana program in Jesuit, 51-18, for third place.
Leading the charge for the War Eagles was Noah Wilson (145/152), who was the only Wakulla wrestler to survive the weekend unbeaten at 9-0, with four pins, a tech fall, a major and three decisions.
Three Wakulla starters were 8-1, including Matthew Owen (126, 3 pins/major/3 decisions), John Trevor Hinsey (195, 4 pins/2 decisions), and Darius Wilkins (285, 4 pins/2 decisions). Two War Eagles posted 6-2 weekend efforts: Charlie Owens (132, 3 pins/3 decisions) & Chase Roberts (138, 3 pins/major/decision).
Four wrestlers contributed five wins over the weekend, including: George Hernandez (106, 5 pins); Cole Baggett (160, 4 pins/decision), Andrew Annand (182, 4 pins/decision) and Slade Watkins (220, 2 pins/2 decisions).
Arnold also took its shot at competing in a multi-state, two-day tournament, and the Marlins did reach the championship bracket round on Saturday, with two pool victories.
The Marlins defeated two Louisiana teams, Acadiana (39-34) and Dunham (48-21), but also ran into three tough customers, falling to St Amant LA (68-9), Jesuit (57-21) and West Forsyth GA (57-12). And while the fourth-place pool effort got Arnold into the championship bracket, the Marlins couldn’t find a dual win in three attempts, falling to South Paulding in the first round (60-12), East Ascension in the consi quarters (51-22) and Sulphur LA in the 13th-place semis (57-9). With a short-handed group, Arnold did not wrestle in the 15th place match against Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Two Arnold wrestlers posted 6-2 records on the weekend. Nicholas Hejke (120/26) had two pins, a major and two decisions, while Griffin Hebert (138) picked up five pins and one decision. Tanner Brockman (106) contributed five victories, including three pins and one decision.
Below follows brief recaps on both teams’ round-by-round:
Friday Match 1:
Wakulla: Kicked things off with a solid start over Sulphur, rolling up eight pins and a decision. The War Eagles won six of seven — all with max points — betweeen 138 and 195. Pins from Hernandez, Owen, Roberts, Wilson, Baggett, Trevor Hart (170), Annand and Wilkins, with a 6-4 win for Raymond Hatchman (120).
Arnold: Struggled to find footing against St Amant, with just two weight class wins and giving up forfeits at six weights. Pin from Brockman and 9-7 win from Hebert.
Friday Match 2:
Wakulla: Had a slight advantage over Jefferson in the lowers, 4 wins to 3 but same points. Jefferson scored max points at five weights and that was just enough. Pins from Hatchman and Watkins, a 15-2 major from Wilson, and decisions from Owen (3-2), Owens (8-5), Hinsey (4-1) and Wilkins (7-0).
Arnold: Righted the ship against Acadiana, with six max-point wins, as the in-staters got just one contested win. Pins from Layton Tomasiewicz (132), Hebert, Nick Kendrick (152) and Max Gaylord (160), plus a 13-11 sudden-victory win from Heike.
Friday Match 3:
Wakulla: Roared past St Michael the Archangel, winning every contested match, with nine pins in all: Jumped out to a 30-0 lead, and closed out dual with six straight wins. Pins from Hatchman, Owen, Owens, Roberts, Wilson, Baggett, Annand, Hernandez and Jackson Merrick (113), plus a 2-1 win from Watkins.
Arnold: Jesuit’s full lineup meant taking advantage of eight Arnold forfeits, but in contested matches, the Marlins held the upper hand. Pins from Hejke, Hebert and Brockman, plus a 3-2 win from Will Ashby (113).
Friday Match 4:
Wakulla: Again started fast, leading 26-0 through 182 before St Louis got on the board, and winning four of five after the in-staters scored. Pins from Owens, Baggett, Hinsey, Wilkins, Hernandez and Merrick, an 18-2 tech from Wilson (up a weight at 152), and an 8-2 win from Roberts.
Arnold: Had their most decisive win of the weekend against Dunham, doubling up the in-staters behind three pins (Tomasiewicz, Kendrick and Brockman). Arnold lost just one competitive match, and that in sudden-victory.
Friday Match 5:
Wakulla: Had to work hard for this win over Catholic Brothers, overcoming an early deficit (21-9 through six weights) with four consecutive pins, then needing a close-out win from Owen to secure the dual. Pins from Annand, Hinsey, Watkins and Wilkins, decisions from Wilson (11-10) and Owen (9-3).
Arnold: West Forsyth proved to be too strong, rolling out to a 51-0 lead fueled largely by six forfeits, with a seventh comng at the end. Pin from Hejke, decisions from Brockman (7-0) and Ashby (7-1).
Saturday Round of 16:
Wakulla: Trailed early to East Ascension (14-9 through five weights), but then won six matches in a row and eight of the last nine to put the dual away. Pins from Roberts, Hinsey, Wilkins, Hernandez and Merrick, a 12-1 major from Owen, and decisions from Wilson (9-3), Annand (9-2) and Owens (9-4).
Arnold: Led South Paulding very early, 12-6 through three weights, but then the Georgians won each of the last 10 weights that had representation. Hebert and Kendrick pins represented the Marlins’ points.
Saturday Match 2:
Wakulla: In the quarters, South Paulding proved to be a tough out, leading by 12 (36-24) with three weights to go. Roberts’ key major in the final match sealed the deal in the War Eagles’ favor, as Wakulla had to win out and collect solid bonus to reach the semi. Pins from Wilson, Jackson Osteen (152), Baggett and Owen, Roberts’ 13-5 major and a 7-5 sudden-victory win from Owens, which might have been as key as Roberts’ major that followed it.
Arnold: In the consi quarters, East Ascension won all of the first eight matches that had representation, although the Marlins did take four of the last five. Pins from Ashby, Tomasiewicz and Hebert, with a 12-0 major from Hejke.
Saturday Match 3:
Wakulla: Holy Cross took wins at 11 weights, including the first four and six in a row from 106-138, going on to later win the tournament title. Pin from Wilson, decisions from Hinsey (9-5) and Wilkins (5-0).
Arnold: The Marlins’ final dual of the tournament saw Sulphur rip through wins in the first eight represented weight classes, and just two Arnold victories in all. Hebert won by a first-period fall and Hejke took a 14-8 decision.
Saturday Match 4:
Wakulla: Bounced back from the Holy Cross loss by allowing Jesuit just one contested win, with a five-match win streak from 106-132. Pins from Annand, Hinsey, Hernandez, Hatchman, Owens and Osteen, decisions from Baggett (5-4), Watkins (9-7 in double OT), Merrick (3-0) and Wilson (7-0).
Complete scorelists for this tournament, and full dual results for both Wakulla and Arnold, can be found here.
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