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Fleming Island depth top challenge for the opposition

Randy Lefko
Sports Editor

Posted 12/31/69

FLEMING ISLAND - A quick trip to Camden County High School with some of his "young pups" gave Fleming Island High wrestling coach P.J. Cobbert a quick look at how his new faces on the mat will fare …

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Fleming Island depth top challenge for the opposition


FLEMING ISLAND - A quick trip to Camden County High School with some of his "young pups" gave Fleming Island High wrestling coach P.J. Cobbert a quick look at how his new faces on the mat will fare up against the tough competition that the Golden Eagles traditional schedule up. Camden County is an eight-time big school Georgia state champion.

"Our depth is going to make us a question mark when we show up to tournaments in anticipation of the January, February breakout," said Cobbert. "Coaches can scout us, but our lineup will be different every time we go somewhere. Our room is that deep."

One of Fleming Island's main chasers for 2024 will be 10 miles away in Jim Reape at Clay High his 31 years of coaching expertise as he has a handful of state qualifiers and state placers from last year that will fortify his lineup and that recently placed third at the rugged Border Wars XI in south Walton with Jacob Bucci, at 120, winning an individual title and four Blue Devils getting to the tournament finals; Rylan Herrera at 132 (lost to Jesuit state sixth placer), Landon Martin at 157 (lost to Holy Cross 152 state runnerup), William Kelley at 215 and Jaden Bell at 285 (lost to Jesuit state champion). Clay scored 273 team points behind team champion and defending Louisiana state champion Jesuit High's 360 points and St. Paul of Louisiana's 301. St. Paul's was fifth in Louisiana last year. Holy Cross, fourth in Louisiana, was fourth at 233.5.

"I liked what I saw and we wrestled hard the whole two days," said Reape. "We have to improve the most in our middleweight classes; Kelly (285 state qualifier) will go to 190 and Aaron Stacy was not at the meet. He will be at our tournament in Manatee this weekend."

Reape, who has been Fleming Island's local nemesis, sees his team as needing some more bodies to take on the Golden Eagle lineup.

"We were two guys down with weight and that kept us from finishing second and we lost a guy to injury," said Reape. "We have a few new young guys that, with some mat time, can add points for us. Fleming Island has the numbers for sure."

For now, Reape likes Bucci to repeat as a state medalist (third at 106 last year) with his veterans capable of returning, but with a few new names that could surprise.

"Jackson Hornbeck, Vonte Burke, Drew Holmquist (113 state qualifier), and Landon Martin are all young guys," said Reape. "Landon is very savvy. I'm sure his big brother, Dominic (7th last year), has rolled around with him on the living room rug."


2A-4 Preview: Reloaded Fleming Island ready to compete for top spot again


Kabra Wrestling.com

Note: Brant Parsons is the premiere Florida high school wrestling pollster and rankings writer.

*Last season: Fleming Island, second in Class 2A to Lake Gibson, outscored runner-up Clay, 15th in 2A, by 106 points to win its eighth straight district title.

District Wrestlers to watch: Timothy McLean (Matanzas), Jacob Bucci (Clay), Matthew Kotler (Fleming Island), Sawyer VanRider (New Smyrna Beach), Kaden Schaefer (Fleming Island), Jordan Mills (Matanzas), Christopher Chop (Fleming Island), Jonathan Bruner (New Smyrna Beach), Matthew Newman (Fleming Island), Laird Duhaylungsod (Fleming Island), Braden Glavin (Clay), Aidan Sutton (New Smyrna Beach), William Kelly (Clay), Matthew Braddock (Fleming Island), Rylan Herrera (Clay)

*The favorite: Fleming Island. Five state placers from a year ago are gone, but there is still a lot of talent in this lineup.

*Team to watch: New Smyrna Beach. The key for the Barracudas will be staying healthy because they have the experience coming back.

*Kabra Says: Fleming Island is still the team to beat in the district, even having filled the holes left by five state placers.

Fleming Island Golden Eagles (#4 IBT | #3 Dual)

Coach: PJ Cobbert (15th season, District champions 11 times; second 2015), assistant coach Angelo Lizza

Last state champion: Jayce Paridon, 2023 (132), now at Lake Highland Prep

Notable losses (Graduation/Transfer): Ronan Bozeman, 42-9, 5th, RC, DC; Joshua Sandoval, 47-6, 4th, RC, DC; Jhoel Robinson, 42-1, 3rd, RC, DC; Ethan Hoffstetter, 27-11, 4th, RC, DC; Jayce Paridon, Jr., 48-2, SC, RC, DC (Transfer to Lake Highland Prep)

Notable returning wrestlers: #3-150 Matthew Kotler, Sr., 29-9, 6th, R2, DC; #3-175 Christopher Chop, Sr., 35-10, 5th, RC, DC; #4-144 Kaden Schaefer, Sr., 34-2, 3rd, RC, DC; #6-113 Matthew Newman, Sr., 42-6, 4th, R2, DC; #6-132 Laird Duhaylungsod, Jr., 43-6, SQ, RC, DC; #11-120 Jordan Mukaddam, Sr., 17-8; #11-215 Walter Poe, Jr., 34-12, RQ, DC; #13-126 Shane Duhaylungsod, Jr., 40-9, SQ, R2, D2; #14-150 Dylan Beck, Jr., 24-14, RQ, D2; #19-215 Ladarius Jackson, Sr., 17-7; Cooper Beck, So., 17-17.

New wrestlers: #8-106 Matthew Braddock, Fr., 24-7, RQ, D2 (Transfer from St. John Country Day); Kevin Reyes, Jr. (FHSAA state weightlifting champion 2023)

Outlook: Fleming Island may not be as loaded as they were last season, but the Golden Eagles still have the strongest and deepest team in the district.


Clay Blue Devils (#18 IBT | #13 Dual)

Coach: James Reape (28th season, 31st at Clay), assistants Hunter Hill, Luke Frame, Elijah Gonzalez

*22-23 dual record: 20-8, District champion from 2012 to 2022 in Class 1A, Second in 2A in 2023

*Last state champion: Robert Tyre, 2022 (220)

*Notable losses (Graduation/Transfer): Landen Solomon, 25-8, RQ-BR, D3; Dominic Martin, 28-10, 7th, R2, D2; Kedtric Wilbourn, 45-13, 8th, R4, D3.

*Notable returning wrestlers: #2-113 Jacob Bucci, Jr., 57-2, 3rd, RC, D2; #7-138 Braden Glavin, Jr., 38-13, SQ, R2, D2; #9-126 Rylan Herrera, Jr.; #9-215 William Kelly, Sr., 40-18, SQ, R3, D3; #14-120 Drew Holmquist, So., 47-20, SQ, R4, D3; Vonte Burke, Jr., 24-13, RQ, DC; Aaron Stacey, Jr., 24-11, RQ, D3

*New wrestlers: Jackson Hornbeck, Jr. (Transfer from Middleburg); Ajax Sgro, So., 23-13 (Transfer from Middleburg); Landon Martin, Fr.; Jayshawn McCloud, Fr.

*Fast fact: Clay has had 128 state-place winners and has finished as the team runner-up eight times.

*Jim Reape: “We are hopefully a scrappy bunch. We will be very good down low, and pretty solid up top, how fast we develop in the middleweights will decide our fate.”

*Outlook: The Blue Devils have four state placers back this season, led by state placer Bucci.