By: Shannon Heaton (@QChawkeyeinFL)
Most wrestling teams stayed home last week, drilling and preparing for this one, the first week in December and – for a couple of teams – the season-opening week as well.
"Edge of the Mat" takes most of its space looking ahead, as the two final holdouts from the Northeast Florida Matmen local high school wrestling poll finally hit the mats against another team this week.
Tuesday night kicks things off at #5 Bolles, where the Bulldogs open their season against Episcopal, which picked up its first dual win a week ago at home vs. Stanton. Bolles is ranked T-22nd in Class 1A per Scout.com’s statewide rankings.
Wednesday night is a big duals night around the five-county area, with seven events scheduled on the docket locally. Highlighting those events is Gateway Conference defending champion and local honorable mention lister Fletcher traveling to #3 Orange Park. The Raiders are currently 7th in Class 2A on the Scout state team rankings list.
Another highlight Wednesday is a five-team “quadrangular” meet hosted by #10 Forrest. HM lister Baker County will also be in attendance, along with Duval County teams Englewood, Atlantic Coast and Paxon, which opens its season that night.
On Thursday night, a natural football rivalry extends to the wrestling mats, as First Coast will invade Raines in the only dual scheduled for that evening.
This weekend will be chock-full of wrestling action locally and statewide, with 9 of the top 10 local teams and all five honorable mentions competing. The highlight tournaments in town will be at Episcopal, where #4 University Christian takes the mats for the first time in 2013-14, and at Terry Parker. Both events start on Friday evening and continue Saturday morning.
Top-ranked Fleming Island, #3 Orange Park and #9 St. Augustine will be at the St. Johns River Conference tournament in Matanzas, while #8 Creekside and #10 Forrest will be at Fletcher’s dual-format tournament. Both of those events are single-day affairs on Saturday only.
#2 Clay will head south to Florida’s Treasure Coast region for a two-day duals tournament at Jensen Beach, while #7 Bishop Snyder will compete at Buchholz’s two-day duals tournament in Gainesville. Local teams will also be competing in nearby Lake City at Columbia’s Tiger Invitational.
With the holiday, last week was a quiet one for high school teams. On Saturday, Sandalwood took 14th out of 16 teams at the Ocala Forest Invitational, and Pedro Menendez struggled to a 1-4 day at the Palm Coast duals on Wednesday, dropping the Falcons out of the Northeast Florida Matmen poll.
By Shannon Heaton (@QChawkeyeinFL)
While Americans of every stripe give thanks by feasting on heaps of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, wrestlers around the nation -- and here in Northeast Florida -- will look at the goodies with longing and, with regret, take a pass on the second plate or even what we would consider healthy helpings on the first one. That's the nature of high school wrestling. Like no other high school-sanctioned sport in America, it is a 24-7 sport, because of the need to control weight, and to do so responsibly. Even away from the mat, the commitment to wrestling is part of every participants's essence every second, of every day, in-season.
This week's "Edge of the Mat" installment is light on the upcoming competition, with just six local teams in the five-county area hitting the mats, leading off with Stanton at Episcopal tonight.
Andrew Jackson opens its season Tuesday night with a trek to Baker County, and area schools Middleburg from Clay County and Pedro Menendez from St. Johns will compete in the Palm Coast duals on Wednesday morning. On Saturday, Sandalwood will hit the road for the Ocala Forrest Invitational, a 16-team bracketed event.
Most teams are off from interscholastic competition this week, and it's a welcome respite after an amazing Saturday of powerhouse events at Bishop Snyder and Fleming Island last weekend.
At Snyder, the hosts -- ranked 7th in this week's Northeast Florida Matmen poll -- were able to go 5-0 for a second straight Saturday, but against stiffer competition. In the final dual of the day, Bishop Snyder needed to go to the 8th criterion -- most first points scored -- to turn back Brunswick (GA) for a 40-39 win.
Clay, ranked second among all teams locally and also statewide for Class 1A, needs no introduction to wrestling fans. Despite several new names in the lineup, and fresh off a second-place performance at the Border Wars in South Walton Beach a week before, the Blue Devils looked strong in rolling to 5-0.
#8 Creekside opened the season's competition on Saturday at Bishop Snyder with a solid 4-1 body of work, losing only to Clay along the way.
At Fleming Island, the top-ranked Golden Eagles -- shorthanded with two state-ranked seniors and a state-ranked junior out of the lineup -- still steamrolled through four rounds of pool opposition, including one-sided wins over #6 Ridgeview and #9 St. Augustine. But 2012 Georgia dual champions Camden County proved too strong for Fleming, taking a 42-18 victory in the title round.
Ridgeview rallied from the loss to Fleming to finish third, defeating Forrest -- which gave a solid performance in its first duals Saturday -- in the third-place match.
#3 Orange Park struggled to find two wins in a very-tough duals competition hosted by Tallahassee Lincoln, while Yulee opened with a 1-4 slate at Deltona.
Lastly, former University Christian 2012 state champion Josh Fox suited up for Ohio State as a varsity starter this weekend. Still only a redshirt freshman competing at 184 pounds for the Buckeyes, Fox bumped up a weight to 197 and secured a major decision on Sunday against Davidson College, helping OSU head coach Tom Ryan secure his 200th career victory.
This week, please give thanks for family, dear friends and liberty. And take a couple of extra bites for the wrestlers who cannot. I would not recommend, however, that you do it in front of them. Making weight is a season-long, grump-inducing process. Give thanks that it's not your burden to bear.
By: Shannon Heaton (@QChawkeyeinFL)
Welcome to this week’s installment of Edge of the Mat, your weekly glimpse into Northeast Florida high school and collegiate wrestling.
Saturday promises to be a huge day for half of the 39 schools in the five-county area, with 18 schools competing in two large duals events locally.
Bishop Snyder will host the second of two North Florida duals events at 10 a.m. The forthcoming installment of the duals will have a couple fewer local teams in the mix than did last weekend’s first event, but five ranked teams (per today’s latest local list found at the Northeast Florida Matmen website) -- #2 Clay (ranked 3rd statewide in Class 1A for the preseason), #7 Fletcher, #8 Fernandina Beach and #10 Creekside, not to mention the newly-minted #9 host Cardinals – will be in the mix, along with honorable mention list member Middleburg, plus First Coast, Bartram Trail and Nease.
Meanwhile, #1 Fleming Island will kick off its 2013-14 season by hosting the Keystone Duals, also set for 10 a.m. in the Golden Eagles’ gym. Clay County rival and sixth-ranked Ridgeview will be in attendance along with two honorable mention teams in St. Augustine and Bishop Kenny. Forrest, Sandalwood, Duval Charter, Pedro Menendez and Oakleaf will also be in attendance among local teams.
Two teams hit the road on Saturday and leave the five-county area, as #3 Orange Park will go to Tallahassee Lincoln for a duals event there, and honorable mention list member Yulee opens competition at the Deltona Duals.
Baker County and Bradford have a home-and-home scheduled for this week, with the Wildcats hosting Bradford tonight and traveling to Bradford Thursday. Terry Parker hosts Stanton, Duval Charter and Englewood in a 6 p.m. quadrangular meet on Tuesday night.
Two firm dates are on the calendar for Wednesday, as Englewood & Robert E. Lee travel to Mandarin for a triangular event at 6 p.m., while Bishop Kenny hosts Ponte Vedra at 7. Episcopal makes the long trek to Callahan for a road dual at West Nassau on Thursday night at 7.
A quick review of last weekend saw some strong performances, most notably (at least in town) from Bishop Snyder, which opened its season in strong fashion with an unbeaten day at the North Florida Duals I it hosted. The Cardinals had an average margin of victory of 35.4 points per dual in taking out five fellow Class 1A competitors. Only Class 3A Gainesville Buchholz was able to run the table in similar fashion by going 5-0 on the day.
Mandarin had an impressive weekend, with a solid 4-1 day at Bishop Snyder just hours after going 1-2 at Fletcher’s quadrangular meet Friday night, and Bishop Kenny is out to a 5-1 start after losing just once at Bishop Snyder.
Speaking of Fletcher, the defending Gateway Conference-champion Senators had a couple of scares at home Friday night, but pulled it together with close wins over the Mustangs and Fernandina Beach to open the season 3-0.
Out-of-town teams found success as well. Clay brought home 2nd place out of 23 teams in the Border Wars at Santa Rosa Beach last weekend, as Blue Devil junior Adam Breindel knocked off a 3x Louisiana state champion to win the weight class at 145 pounds. Orange Park dominated the Matanzas Duals on Saturday, shutting out two opponents and going 7-0 on the day.
At the collegiate level, North Central (IL) freshman Coll Robertson (Ridgeview ’13) picked up his first intercollegiate wins of the season at Trine (IN) University’s open competition Saturday, while Robert Parland (University Christian ’13) went 1-2 – all against Division I opponents – at the North Carolina State Open on Sunday.
Barney joins Joe Cowart and Ryan "Hacker" Green for the first coast high school football preview to discuss teams to watch in the playoffs.
By Shannon Heaton (@QChawkeyeinFL/@NEFloridaMatmen)
Happy Veterans’/Armistice Day. If you can read this, thank a veteran. And a teacher.
Each Monday through the end of the college wrestling season, we’ll check in with a weekly preview/review of the doings on the wrestling mats. Practices began about a month ago, and the competitive season begins today, although Northeast Florida teams won’t be starting until Wednesday.
On Wednesday night, the local season kicks off with Bishop Kenny hosting Episcopal. It will be interesting to see how the Crusaders will be affected by what looks to be a deep BK run into the football playoffs, and how many of the Crusaders’ upper-weight competitors will therefore be held out of action. Bishop Kenny had to give up a few forfeits in preseason duals last week, and that could be the case again Wednesday night. Episcopal’s long-time middle-school coach, Mike Rickey, is taking over from long-time Eagles coach Lew Ritter, and Wednesday night will be his first dual at the helm. In contrast to Bishop Kenny, Episcopal should have a full lineup at its disposal.
On Friday night, the focus shifts from two Duval private schools to Neptune Beach, where Fletcher – kings of the Gateway Conference – hosts a five-team meet it is calling a quadrangular dual meet. Fellow Duval programs Atlantic Coast, Mandarin and Stanton, along with Fernandina Beach, will join up with the Senators in this 6 p.m. tilt. Meanwhile, the program that has been at the top of the heap in the area longer than any other – Clay – will travel to the Florida Panhandle to compete in Border Wars, a two-day tournament hosted by Santa Rosa Beach. Teams from Georgia and Louisiana, as well as several teams in northern and western Florida, will also be at that event.
The first larger events taking place locally start up on Saturday, as Bishop Snyder hosts the first of two North Florida Duals events. Several other local teams (confirmed are: Mandarin, Sandalwood, Stanton, Terry Parker, Episcopal, Providence, Bishop Kenny, Duval Charter and West Nassau) will join the Cardinals at 10 a.m. Or, if your particular focus is St. Johns County, many of those schools, including St. Augustine, Menendez, Nease and Ponte Vedra, along with Orange Park of Clay County, will travel to Matanzas for its duals event, also Saturday at 10 a.m.
At the collegiate level, it was a light week for local collegians although there was a heavy schedule. The most successful weekend belonged to Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) freshman Kyle McClinton (Middleburg ’13), who was 2-2 at the Knox College Invitational in Galesburg, Ill., while competing at 141 pounds. The wins were McClinton’s first as a collegian. Former University Christian wrestler Robert Parland (’13) faced an uphill draw at the UNC-Pembroke Classic while wrestling at 197 for Coker (S.C.) College, going 0-2 for the tournament after facing the eventual weight-class champion in the first round.
Further details on all of these will be found at northeastfloridamatmen.wordpress.com throughout the course of this week, with stories and results, as well as live coverage on Twitter for both the Bishop Kenny/Episcopal dual Wednesday night and the Fletcher quad Friday night. Also, watch for our preview capsules and an upcoming feature story that will kick off the 2013-14 season, coming out on the site Wednesday.