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.
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