FLEMING ISLAND – Fleming Island High wrestling has surged to the forefront of Florida wrestling the past two years with two second place state finishes to Class 3A powerhouse South Dade High and a …
FLEMING ISLAND – Fleming Island High wrestling has surged to the forefront of Florida wrestling the past two years with two second place state finishes to Class 3A powerhouse South Dade High and a second place finish also to South Dade in the inaugural state duals championships with one guy taking on just about everyone in the state without a hitch.
Fleming Island High senior Paul Detwiler used the motivation of a disappointing third place finish at last year’s state meet to fuel a quiet fire that raged from every opening whistle he heard.
“Getting third and then finishing as an unbeaten All American at Disney Duals gave me an idea that I may have a good season,” said Detwiler. “I never really let it sink in even after I won the state title about going unbeaten and winning the title. Coach P.J. Cobbert always stresses to just wrestle the next guy in front of you and not think about the others down the line.”
Detwiler, with 63 wins and zero losses in 2018, with a handful of top-of-the-line opponents falling to the wayside in impolite fashion, is named as the Clay Today Wrestler of the Year for his outstanding season.
Detwiler, who opened the season with a first period pin against an opponent, that, by season’s end, was Detwiler’s main focus for the state championship, South Dade’s Mikael Fundora. Fundora, fourth at 160 in 2017, lasted just two periods in two matches against Detwiler in that initial encounter, two wins in one day, at powerhouse Osceola High School, then disappeared for the season.
“He is the guy I most worried about only because South Dade guys tend to improve a lot as the season goes on and we never wrestled again after that first meet,” said Detwiler, in an interview after rifling through the region 1-3A championships with a pin over Timber Creek’s Brian Santiago. “I thought he (Fundora) might have been working to figure my style out and to adjust for a possible state meet match. It never happened.”
Unfortunately, Detwiler never saw Fundora at the state meet as Justin Segarra, whom Detwiler pinned in the region semifinal, beat Fundora in the state quarterfinals, then Segarra beat Santiago to give Segarro a finals’ rematch with Detwiler. That lasted to a first period pin for Detwiler after just 1:48 clicked off the clock.
“I really wanted to wrestle someone new in the final,” said Detwiler.
Detwiler’s season opened in blazing style with his first 22 wins coming via 21 pins and one technical fall, a 9-1 major decision over a then two time South Carolina champion, Billy Christie, who finished up at 25-1 with a third state title in 2018 as well as being named South Carolina wrestler of the year.
“He was good, but I was expecting him to be if he was twice a state champion,” said Detwiler, after beating Christie at the Richmond Hill, GA, Christman Invitational, won by Fleming Island.
Detwiler ramped up his pinning prowess with another string of pancakes; 12, before having to reach down for wins of 4-2 and 10-6 against Tallahassee Lincoln’s Justin Grant and Lake Gibson’s Ashton Habeil, both state medalists in Class 2A in 2018. Lake Gibson won the Class 2A team title with Habeil the 170 Class 2A champion and Grant finished third, losing to Habeil in the semifinals.
Another string of pins, 10 in 12 matches, were punctuated with a 7-1 win over Southwest Miami’s Michael Fernandez and a 14-2 win over Lake Highland Prep’s Max Cosmides. Ironically, at the Tony Ippolito Invite at Brandon High, Detwiler was geared to face Lake Highland Prep’s Erich Byelick, a two time state champion prior to his 2018 title, but Byelick chose to not wrestle. Lake Highland Prep won the Class 1A team title in 2018 with Cosmides the 170 runnerup and Byelich winning the 182 title.
Detwiler is planning to wrestler at the Coast Guard Academy, an NCAA Division III school.
The rest of the Clay Today All County Wrestling team features a handful of Detwiler’s teammates; notably fellow state champions Briar Jackson, a junior at 113 who riveted the state championship arena with his lightning fast first period pin for his win, and Ryan Smenda, a senior at 220, who owned the fastest pin of the state tournament en route to his first state title. Smenda had an unbeaten record going after joining the wrestling team after a region playoff football season as linebacker. At the Ippolito tournament, Smenda suffered his lone loss to eventual Class 1A three time champion Ben Goldin of Lake Highland Prep, though Smenda did put Goldin in a last-second Spradle pin combination near the final buzzer that, after 20 minutes of discussion, officials deemed Smenda’s move earned no points.
Also from Fleming Island were, Lou Gagliardo, third at 106; Jacob Sandoval, fifth at 126; Jaquan English, fourth at 132; Vincent Hauser, 48-13 at 145 and Jose Concepcion, third at 285.
The final members of the Clay Today Wrestling All County First Team are led by Clay High junior Peyton Hughes, who won the 138 pound Class 1A title after dismissing two-time state champion Noah Castillo in the semifinals. Hughes, with a win over Castillo at the state duals semifinals, owned the 138 pound weight class and entered as the top seed. Hughes rebounded from a hand injury in the early part of the season that flared up throughout the season, to beat Castillo 12-10 in a turbulent third period in their state semifinal.
Also on the Clay Today All County Wrestling first team from Clay High were Steve Chopek, runnerup at 120 to defending state champion Nic Bouzakis of Lake Highland Prep; Dylan Taylor, 31-7 at 152; Connor Green, third at 160; Carson Yost, 35-11 at 170 and Kurt Jackson, runnerup at 195.
For Taylor and Green, their return to the mat was after a junior season of injuries that included jaw reconstruction for Taylor from a swimming accident and knee and shoulder surgery for Green from wrestling injuries. Jackson dropped to 195 after finishing third at 220 last year with a semifinal loss to Lake Highland Prep’s three time champion BenGoldin.
Wrestler of Year
Paul Detwiler, FIHS, Sr., 63-0, Class 3A 170 pound state champion, district champion, region champion; Six tournament titles.
106: Lou Gagliardo, FIHS, Jr., 53-4, Third in Class 3A (lost to 3A runnerup Jaekus Hines in state round one match); Fourth in region (Injury, lost to Ryan Rowland, Hagerty in region semifinal, beat Rowland in state consolation semifinals)
113: Briar Jackson, FIHS, Jr., 56-6, 113 state champion, district, region champion
120: Steve Chopek, CHS, Jr., 43-2-R, Region champion over John Delaney (Bishop Kenny 37-14), Class 1A runnerup to defending state champion Nic Bouzakis, Lake Highland Prep
126: Jacob Sandoval, FIHS, Sr., 45-8, Fifth in Class 3A (lost to 3A champion Malyke Hines in state semifinal), Lost in region final to Smaill St. Pierre (Freedom)
132: Jaquan English, FIHS, Sr., 54-6, Fourth in Class 3A (lost to 3A runnerup Julian Hernandez (SW Miami) in state semifinal), Lost in region final to 2X 3A champion Avery Holder (FPC). Beat Holder in state semifinal duals.
138: Peyton Hughes, Clay, Jr., Class 1A champion, 34-2-R, District, Region champion. Beat 2X defending champion Noah Castillo, Lake Highland Prep in state semifinal and state duals.
145: Vincent Hauser, FIHS, Sr., 48-13, Lost in regions to 3A runnerup Devin Kohn (Hagerty), District champion
152: Dylan Taylor, CHS, Jr., 31-7, lost in region final to Drew St. Armont (Arnold),
160: Connor Green, CHS, Sr., 27-4, Third in Class 1A, Region champion, District champion
170: Carson Yost, CHS, Jr., 35-11, SQ, Lost in region final to Jesse Burch (Bradford), District champion
195: Kurt Jackson, CHS, Sr., 25-4, Second in 1A, Region champion, District champion
220: Ryan Smenda, FIHS, Sr., 27-1, Class 3A state champion, Region champion, District champion. Lone loss to 1A 3X champion Ben Goldin, Lake Highland Prep at Ippolito Invite.
285: Jose Concepcion, FIHS, Sr., 26-5, Third in Class 3A (lost in semifinals to 3A runnerup Trayvonne Jackson, South Dade), Region champion, district champion,
106: Matt Rodriguez, RHS, Fresh, 49-3, State qualifier (lost in state semifinals to champion Chase Ayers of Lake Gibson), District champion, Region champion
113: Daniel Porter, CHS, Sr., 45-7, Sixth in Class 1A, Region champion over Brooks Dyer (Florida High), District champion
120: Ryan Rosano, OHS, Sr., 43-7, Fourth in 3A (lost to champion Bretli Reyna, South Dade in state semifinal), Region champion, District champion (both over Albie Snedaker, FIHS)
126: Cale Hoskinson, CHS, Soph, 32-13, lost region final to Ethan Pickren (South Walton, 3rd in Class 1A);
138: Saeid Ejmali, RHS, Sr., 51-2, State qualifier, Region champion, District champion
145: Christian Downs, RHS, Jr., 19-9.
152: Luke Chop, FIHS, Jr., (42-20), District champion, lost in regions to state qualifier Roody Edouard (Apopka)
160: Trace Insalaco, FIHS, Jr., 51-18, lost in region quarterfinals to region champion Wyatt Forsberg, Oviedo; 2-2 at state meet), District runnerup.
170: Isaiah Graham, OHS, Sr., 36-13, Lost in regions to state qualifier Keyshon Talley (Apopka),
182: Abbott Taylor, CHS, Jr., 31-6, Fifth in Class 1A (Lost to defending champion Erich Byelick, Lake Highland Prep in semifinals), Region champion, District champion
195: Reed Danielson, OPHS, Sr., 53-11, Sixth in 2A, Region champion, District champion, ); Beat FIHS Jalyn Robinson
220: Tyler Huff, RHS, Jr., 8-2, Injury in region consolation third round, District champion
285: Ryan Rivers, CHS, Sr., 34-16, State Qualifier, Fourth at regions, District champion
OHS: Addierto Escobar, Fresh, 37-17 (106), Trent Carroll, Jr., (29-11); Ethan Gustilo, Sr., 49-9 (138)
MHS: Tazz Hampton, Soph, (106), SQ, Lost to Rodriguez in region 1-2A final. 35-13); James Benton Fresh, (26-15, state qualifer, fourth at region 1-2A)
OPHS: Jacob Moore, Soph, 182 42-13, Cameron Broughton Soph, 120 (47-8)
RHS: Gabriel Guzman, Soph, 37-12, State Qualifier (lost to 2A runnerup Lleyton Taylor, Riverdale, in first round); John Tiedeman, Jr., 170 (29-15);
FIHS: Albie Snedaker (120) FIHS, Sr., 46-15, State Qualifier; Tyler Williams (138), Soph, 51-22
CHS: Joe Grelli, Soph, (220)
KHHS: Congratulations to first year team at Keystone Heights: Hannah Raah (120), Ethan McFarland (126), Isabella Hanna (132), Levi McFarland (138), Matthew Booth (145), Jeremy Givens (152), Gabe Adams (170), Savannah Koppert (195), Brandon Hoffmeyer (195), Cody Wells (285).