Knockout Recap: 4 Area Wrestlers Reach Blood Round

North Florida Matmen staff report

KISSIMMEE — The Knockout Christmas Classic has been, for several years now, the pre-eminent regular-season tournament in Florida.

This year, it had the goal of taking over the top spot in the Southeast, and so it has done. Consider that Florida large-school state champion South Dade was 6th in the 39-team field (when was the last tournament South Dade finished sixth in?), long-time Alabama state power Thompson was seventh and Georgia small-school powerhouse Woodward Academy finished 12th.

When the tournament concluded Saturday night, there were no local placewinners. Fleming Island finished tied for 26th, scoring 52 points, while Fletcher tied for 35th with 26 points and Florida High was 38th at 16.5.

Camden was the overall champion, holding off state rival Woodland, Cartersville and Florida’s returning 2A state champion, Lake Gibson, by a 191-185 count (the opponents had tied for second), with Cleveland TN fourth at 149 and Charlotte fifth at 144.5.

Below follows a brief recap of each weight class, along with local representation:

106 — Cleveland TN’s Trae McDaniel had one pin, two majors and two decisions to take the championship, with a 9-0 victory in the final over Jensen Beach’s Dylan Layton (2 pins/2 decisions prior to final). Fleming Island’s Hunter Herrington won a pigtail match by fall over Woodland Academy’s Michael Rinker (2:57), but then lost by disqualification in the round of 32 to Camden’s DeMarquis Hall (eventually placed 6th) and that loss carried over into the consi round.

113 — Thompson AL’s Dylan Lesueur battled through five decisions en route to the title, where he stopped Cleveland’s Jackson Bradford (tech & 3 decisions prior to final), 9-8, for the championship. Florida High’s Brooks Dyer was the top local performer, going 3-2 on the day after an 8-2 loss in the round of 32 to Lesueur early in the event. Dyer pinned Charlotte’s Patrick Nolan (3:13) in consi round 3, SW Miami’s Joshua Fonseca (2:13) in consi round 4 and teched Colquitt GA’s Ethan Sellers (15-0 in 4:51) in consi round 5 before falling to Camden’s John Myers (eventual fifth-place finisher), 3-1. Fleming Island’s Riley Holton was 1-2 in the tournament. Holton lost to Camden’s Nathan Orum (eventual semifinalist, third placer) by fall in 5:52 in the round of 32, decisioning George Duncan of Osceola, 4-2, in consi round 3. Holton then lost to Brennan Watkins of Dobyns Bennett TN, 7-5, in consi round 4. Florida High’s Emil Ganim was 0-2 in the tournament, opening with a 9-6 loss to Valdosta’s Kaleb Davis; after a bye, Ganim then lost by fall to defending 2A state champ Chase Ayers (eventual sixth-place finisher) of Lake Gibson in 1:50 in consi round 3.

120 — Woodland, Cartersville’s Kyle Gollhofer bonus-pointed his way through the tournament, with four pins and a major decision. His fourth pin came in the finals against Charlotte’s Donovan Cataldi (pin, 2 majors and decision prior to final), in 3:11. Fleming Island’s Briar Jackson was just one of three local quarterfinalists in the tournament. Jackson falled Dallastown Area PA’s Carter MacDonald in 3:01 in the round of 32, then decisioned Riverdale’s Tajh Clayton, 9-2, in the round of 16. That set up a meet up with Camden’s Tyler Crew (eventual third-place finisher) in Saturday’s quarterfinal round, with Jackson falling, 2-0. Jackson turned back Valdosta’s Jordan Hampton, 10-7, in consi round 4, but then lost to Collins Hill GA’s Joey Felix (eventual fourth-place finisher), 2-1 in sudden-victory, one match short of a place finish.

126 — Woodland, Cartersville’s Caleb Henson pinned his way into the final, with four in all, then held off Woodward Academy’s Nick Masters, 7-5, in a matchup of unbeaten wrestlers. Fleming Island’s Ryan Hobson was 1-2 in the tournament, with a fall over Freedom’s Brennon Reid in the round of 32. Hobson then lost by fall to Henson in 1:18 in the round of 16, and then took a 5-3 loss to Brookwood GA’s Vaughn Williams in consi round 4.

132 — Woodland, Cartersville’s Caden McCrary had a fall, tech and pair of decisions, then knocked off multiple-time Florida state champion Bretli Reyna (pin, 2 techs, decision prior to final) of South Dade in the ultimate tiebreaker, 2-1. Fleming Island’s Garrett Cole was 2-2 in the tournament, with a round-of-32 opening loss (13-1) to Lake Gibson’s Evan Butler (eventual fifth-place finisher), but rallied with two wins at the back: a 6-2 decision over Valdosta’s Cameron Bradley in consi round 3 and a fall over Winter Springs’ Tony Stribling in 3:26 in consi round 4 before falling to Hernando’s Michael Brown, 10-6. Fletcher’s Christopher Strong was 1-2 in the tournament, opening with a loss by fall (2:24) to McCrary in the round of 32. After a bye, Strong pinned Jensen Beach’s Jacobi Genn in 2:20 in consi round 3, but then lost to multiple-time Florida placewinner Alan Morano of Tampa Prep, by fall in 2:13 in consi round 4.

138 — Osceola’s Malyke Hines became the first four-time Knockout champion in the event’s history, with four pins and two decisions, the second of those a 6-3 win over Woodward Academy’s Matthew Singleton (2 pins, major and 2 decisions prior to final). Like Jackson at 120, Florida High’s Max Metcalf was one match short of placing, but his path was significantly different. Metcalf’s first match in the tournament was Hines in the round of 32, which ended by fall in 49 seconds. Metcalf then won four matches on the back side to give himself a chance at a medal: 18-3 tech in 2:37 over Fletcher’s Tyler Dalldorf in consi round 3; pin of Woodland Cartersville’s Cole Cochran in 1:15 in consi round 4; pin over SW Miami’s Andy Dematas in 2:43 in consi round 5, then a win by ID over Chariho RI’s Kyle Merritt in consi round 6. In the “blood round,” Metcalf lost by fall to eventual sixth-place finisher Matt Phillips of Winter Springs, in 3:56. Fleming Island’s Dalton Williams was 2-2 in the tournament, with a pair of techs over Thompson’s Judah Campbell (15-0 in 2:43) and Hillcrest SC’s Lucas Conti (16-1 in 4:36), but then injury-defaulted in the second period to Union Grove GA’s Bryson Neace (eventual fifth-place finisher), and took no further part in the tournament. Dalldorf was 0-2 in the tournament, losing by fall in the round of 32 to Charlotte’s Richard Lawyer.

145 — Woodland, Cartersville’s Jaxon Smith pulled together a tech and four decisions, the last two of those needing sudden victory, including the final, where he got the takedown against Camden’s Tyler Dahlgren (2 pins, major and decision prior to final). Fletcher’s Douglas Tappin and Florida High’s Dennis Ganim were both 1-2 in the tournament. Tappin majored Dobyns Bennett’s Shane Lemons, 17-5, in the round of 32, but then lost by fall in 1:11 to SW Miami’s Julian Hernandez (eventual fourth-place finisher). Tappin then took a second loss by fall in consi round 2, in 3:53 to Collins Hill’s Jerimiah Pierre. Ganim lost by fall in the round of 32 to Charlotte’s Cody Rice (1:49), but rallied for a 4-1 win over Chariho’s Jeremy Ryan in consi round 1. Ganim then was knocked out in consi round 2 by fall in 41 seconds to Dallastown’ Sam Druck.

152 — Southridge’s Johnny Lovett had a fall and four decisions to win Florida’s second title, decisioning Hagerty’s Ethan Woods (2 pins & 2 decisions prior to final), 14-8, in the first of back-to-back all-Florida finals in the tournament. Fleming Island’s Luke Chop was 3-2 in the tournament, starting with a fall in the round of 32 over Countryside’s Chase Niles in 5:41. He then lost to Lovett in the round of 16, 7-3, where he would win two back-side matches. Chop majored Riverdale’s Victor Perez, 11-1, in consi round 4, and stopped Miami Palmetto’s Charlie Veliz, 3-0, in consi round 5. However, it would take former state champion Lucas Willis, of Charlotte, and extra time, to derail Chop’s run, as Willis won 3-1 in sudden victory in consi round 6. Fletcher’s Tyson Petrie was 0-2 in the tournament, with a loss by fall in the round of 32 to Columbus’ Ryan Gonzalez, in 3:40. Petrie then injury-defaulted in the second period of his consi round 3 match with Colquitt GA’s Ny’Quavian McBurrows.

160 — South Dade’s Brevin Balmeceda had three first-minute pins and a first-period tech in getting to the final, then held down Lake Gibson’s Miguel Hernandez (pin, major, 2 decisions prior to final), 1-0, in the championship match. Fleming Island’s Tanner Hill was the second of three area quarterfinalists in the tournament, advancing that far behind two decisions: 12-10 over Jensen Beach’s Hayden Zehe in the round of 32 and 7-5 over Camden’s Omega Clark in the round of 16. On Saturday, Hill fell to Osceola’s Nolin Eaddy (eventual sixth-place finisher), 4-0, in the quarters, and took a 3-2 loss in consi round 6 to eventual fifth-place finisher Derek Hussey of Thompson, 3-2. Fletcher’s Stone Rockhill and Florida High’s Noah Perdue were both 0-2 in the tournament. Rockhill lost by fall (5:25) in the round of 32 to Southridge’s Jalen Durham, and injury-defaulted to Woodland, Cartersville’s Tommy Duke in consi round 3. Perdue lost to Zehe in the pigtail round, 13-0, and then took a 3-2 loss in consi round 2 to North Gwinnett GA’s Lucas Haller.

170 — Tampa Prep’s Colin Nation rolled up a pin, tech and two decisions, with a third one coming in the championship match against Hillcrest’s Walker Stephenson (3 pins & decision prior to final), as Nation won by a 6-3 count. Florida High’s Chauncy Riggsby had the best area effort in the weight class, going 2-2. He lost by fall (1:05) in the round of 32 to Union Grove’s Torrence Dumas, but then won twice on the back side. He pinned Dobyns Bennett’s Daniel Martinez in consi round 1 and teched Columbus’ Brian Walsh (18-3 in 4 minutes) in consi round 2, but then lost by fall in 18 seconds to Riverdale’s Nick Rodriguez. Riggsby’s teammate, Syre Ganim, and Fletcher’s Joel Rodriguez were both 1-2 in the tournament. Ganim lost by fall in 23 seconds in the first round to Stephenson, but rallied with a fall over Hernando’s Johnathan Ahne (:53) in consi round 1 before taking a loss by fall in consi round 2 to Dumas, in 3:16. Joel Rodriguez lost by fall (1:47) in the first round to Cleveland’s Ashton Davis, but came back to pin North Gwinnett’s Cameron Crumpton in 4:06 in consi round 1. He then was knocked out in consi round 2 by Lake Gibson’s Kameron McCall in 1:59. Fleming Island’s Gavin Smith was 0-2 in the tournament. After a bye, Smith lost by fall to Camden’s Hunter Malson in the round of 16, in 1:43, with a second loss by fall in consi round 2 to Nick Rodriguez, in 1:43.

182 — In a third all-Florida final, Lake Gibson’s Ashton Habeil rolled up two pins and two decisions, then won by injury default in the finals over a potential state-final matchup in Riverdale’s Jesse Martinez (3 pins & decision prior to final). Fletcher’s Michael Strong was 2-2 in the tournament, with a front side fall in 2:48 over Jensen Beach’s James Sisson in the round of 32. Strong then lost in the round of 16 to Winter Springs’ Jessiah Contreras (eventual fourth-place finisher), in 1:59. On the back side, Strong pinned Jensen Beach’s Andrew Burnette in 56 seconds in consi round 2, but then lost by fall in consi round 3, in 3:53, to Woodland, Cartersville’s Bryce Shedd.

195 — Countryside’s Anthony Burburija racked up two pins and two decisions to get to the finals, where he majored Woodward Academy’s Malcolm Wiley (2 pins & ID prior to final), 12-4. Fleming Island’s Chad Nix was the third area wrestler to get within a match of medaling. Nix pinned Dobyns Bennett’s Jesse Greer in 1:11 in the round of 32, but then fell, 3-2, to Charlotte’s Anthony Andou (eventual third-place finisher) in the round of 16. On the back side, Nix won three times to reach the blood round: injury default over Hillcrest’s Cameron Spence; 7-1 decision over Miami Palmetto’s Chris Green in consi round 3; and by forfeit over Valdosta’s Noah Pettigrew in consi round 4. In the blood round, Camden’s Myles Starke (eventual sixth-place finisher) pinned Nix in 18 seconds. Fletcher’s Matthew Strong was 0-2 in the tournament. Strong fell in the round of 32, 10-4, to Riverdale’s Ethan McLean, and then lost by fall in consi round 1 to Collins Hill’s Anthony Vinson in 2:19.

220 — Charlotte’s Jose Valdez had two first-period falls on Friday, with a major and decision to reach the final and Brookwood’s Justin Oldknow (3 pins & ID prior to final). Fleming Island’s Raul Gonzalez and Fletcher’s Ethan Hollenbach were both 0-2 in the tournament. Gonzalez lost by fall in the first round to Thompson’s Isaac McAdams (3:52) and then medical-forfeited out of the tournament, while Hollenbach lost by fall in the first round to Collins Hill’s Cody Hutchison in 1:21. In consi round 1, Hollenbach lost to Camden’s Garrett Gaston, 3-0.

285 — Dallastown Area’s Raymond Christas rolled up two pins, a decision and then won by injury-default in the third period over Collins Hill’s Tomari Fox (4 pins prior to final). Fletcher’s Stanley Hollenbach was the area’s third quarterfinalist and fourth wrestler to be one match short of a medal, reaching that part of the bracket after two quick falls over Dobyns Bennett’s Justin Lemons (:24 in the round of 32) and Union Grove’s Brian Shaw (:25 in the round of 16). Hollenbach fell to Brentwood Academy’s Thomas Gore in sudden victory, 9-7, in the quarters, but put himself into the blood round by riding out Hernando’s Sam Fleming in the ultimate tiebreaker, 6-6, in consi round 4. In the blood round, Hollenbach fell to Valdosta’s Demetrius Allen, 8-2.

Complete brackets for this tournament can be found here.

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in both 1992 and again in 2011. But I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. We combined those sites into North Florida Matmen in the summer of 2018. And, we've started South Georgia Matmen in November of 2018. Our work is never paywalled, our content is searchable for all time. We're here because the kids keep lacing 'em up, so we'll keep writing 'em up.

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