McCall brings wrestling excitement to OPJ

By Randy Lefko
Posted 12/13/18

ORANGE PARK – Evan McCall prowled the edge of the mat at the Orange Park Junior High dual match with Green Cove Springs Junior High on Wed., Dec. 4 and seemed amped to himself taking a step into …

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McCall brings wrestling excitement to OPJ

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Evan McCall prowled the edge of the mat at the Orange Park Junior High dual match with Green Cove Springs Junior High on Wed., Dec. 4 and seemed amped to himself taking a step into the circle.

“This is so freaky,” said McCall, the latest head coach hired to coach the Wildcat wrestling team. “I’ve never been nervous like this. It’s a lot more intense than actually wrestling.”

McCall, who finished second in Class 3A as a senior for Fleming Island High School in 2014, was noted for his ferocity on the mat and his ability to ‘will’ himself to make physical moves that were explosive and dynamic beyond his 126 pounds of sinewy strength. McCall’s loss was a 7-1 decision to unbeaten Jared Prince of Palm Harbor (70-0), who was the defending champion and is now wrestling at the U.S. Naval Academy. McCall, a four-time wrestling state meet qualifier at Fleming Island, has had stints with the U.S. Marines Corps, Mixed Martial Arts fighting, some assistant coaching with Fleming Island High coach P.J. Cobbert, and, now, works for UPS.

From the beginning of the Orange Park/Green Cove match, the Wildcat gym was filled and loud.

McCall’s first wrestler out blasted his opponent with a double leg takedown that eventually led to a five point win.

“I want them to compete hard and fast,” said McCall, as he readied for his second athlete to enter the mat. “I’ve only had two weeks of practice to get the kids right in their minds about wrestling hard. That was pretty awesome.”

In McCall’s second match, the Orange Park gym erupted as a second pin, then a third as the Wildcats pushed to a quick 17-0 lead behind pins from Joseph Forte at 92 and Angelo Bajando at 102. Green Cove snapped up three consecutive pins; Joey Gomery, Liam Mackenzie and Gunner Ivey to take an 18-17 lead before Ryan Israel got the final pin for Orange Park. Green Cove won 70-23.

“What a start,” said McCall, who was being refereed by former Clay High wrestling coach Jim Reape along with Reape’s son, Tucker. “It’s kind of weird seeing coach Reape out there as Clay and Fleming Island wrestling is a pretty big deal.”

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