By Shannon Heaton
Follow on Twitter at @QChawkeyeinFL
The team race was the highlight in Class 1A. The individual glory was supreme in 2A.
Local wrestlers in four counties found plenty of success at last weekend’s Florida state wrestling tournament in Lakeland. Some were left wondering what might have been, others leave the 2012-13 season with a bright future still ahead.
Still, the area scene remains vibrant – if a bit under-publicized – as 28 state-qualifying wrestlers – including one state champion and one runnerup – will return for the 2013-14 season.
But, first, a look at two local grapplers who completed their high-school careers at the pinnacle – a state championship.
Leading the charge was Ridgeview senior Jamarius Jackson, who entered the weekend with the #1 ranking and an undefeated record. Despite having the status of prohibitive favorite, Jackson didn’t let that distract him.
Instead, he went out and dominated, with two tech falls and a pin. His closest match of the weekend was a 12-4 major decision in the semifinals. From there, Jackson showed off a takedown clinic in the title match against Olympic Heights freshman Laurence Kosoy, winning by a 27-12 tech fall. Jackson’s career ended with a 40-0 senior season.
Jackson’s effort, along with a fourth-place effort from 285-pound teammate Malcolm Kirce, propelled Ridgeview to a tie for 10th place among 2A teams.
Creekside senior Shane Carpenter had to go through some closer shaves than Jackson in order to claim his gold Saturday night, but the result was the same as Jackson’s. Carpenter won three matches by decision – a fourth win, in the semis – came by fall – with two of those three decisions by just a point.
Still, though, Carpenter got through unscathed, defeating Olympic Heights’ Ronaldo Abreu by a 4-3 decision in the title match. Carpenter completed his career with a 41-0 senior season.
The one champion from the area that will return to defend his title was Orange Park junior 182-pounder Corey Van Dorn. After opening his state weekend with a tech fall in the first round, Van Dorn won three matches by decision – including a 2-1 win over previously unbeaten senior Derek Doss of Largo in the finals.
Van Dorn finished the season with a 45-0 record and will likely enter 2013-14 as the top-ranked wrestler at either 182 or 195, should he move up for next season.
In Class 1A, Clay finished second overall – the only local school in any class to earn a top-five finish – but although the team success was solid and even perhaps a little above expectations, the individual hopes for the Blue Devils couldn’t be fulfilled.
Clay’s ace upperweight seniors – Jake Bain at 170 and Justin Fountain at 220 – both fell short of a state title. Fountain dropped a 4-2 decision in the finals to Lake Highland Prep’s Carter Shipley after earning three first-period falls to reach the title match.
Bain got into a wild semifinal with ace eighth-grader Nick Mosco of Tampa Prep, but Mosco was too much for the three-time Clay medalist, taking a 16-9 victory. Bain wrestled back for third, winning by fall in just 25 seconds in the third-place match.
Several other Blue Devil wrestlers – Dale Browning at 106 (4th), Austin Luke at 132 (6th), Adam Breindel at 138 (3rd), Jeff Rivers at 152 (3rd) and Justin Weltzbarker at 160 (3rd) – contributed mightily to the Clay team score, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Lake Highland Prep for the team title. Clay finishes with 123 points, 27.5 back of the champions.
University Christian put together a solid fourth-place team finish with 76 points, led by a pair of third-place efforts from Cody Hankerson (160) and Robert Parland (195), a fourth from junior Jamal Fiffer (285) and a sixth from Michael Fegins (138).
Individually in Class 1A, Bolles junior Harry Glasser nearly reached the gold, but fell just short in the finals to top-ranked Jake Spengler of Lake Highland Prep, 2-1. Glasser is the top local coming back next year for 1A.
Other medalists on the weekend included: Fleming Island’s Charles Cuthbert (4th at 126), St. Augustine’s David Martinez (4th at 170 in 2A), Creekside’s Aaron Galang (6th at 113 in 2A).
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