Fleming Island wrestlers grab region title; 11 champs

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/2/23

TALLAHASSEE - With a meteoric shift in team scores from a 20-point lead prior to the semifinal rounds of the region 1-2A wrestling championships to a final 265-134.5 shelling of runnerup Lincoln and …

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Fleming Island wrestlers grab region title; 11 champs


TALLAHASSEE - With a meteoric shift in team scores from a 20-point lead prior to the semifinal rounds of the region 1-2A wrestling championships to a final 265-134.5 shelling of runnerup Lincoln and third place finisher Clay (119), the Fleming Island High wrestling team displayed their expected prowess with power and finesse in repeating as region champions.

“We talked about guys being on the bubble; you want to be average or above average,” said Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert. “I told them we would get 11 guys into the finals and, if the guys on the bubble proved themselves, we could send 13.”

Clay had one individual champion with sophomore Jacob Bucci winning at 106 while the Blue Devils advanced six wrestlers. Middleburg, with four to state, edged Oakleaf, with four to state, for seventh place 92.5-88.0 with Ridgeview 12th with 44 points and Orange Park 26th with seven points.

In 2022, Fleming Island obliterated the region field again; Lincoln runnerup as well, with a 249-115.5 point total. Fleming Island eventually finished fourth in Class 2A behind Jesuit, Charlotte and Lake Gibson.

“Just got to wrestle, you control matches with wins,” said Cobbert. “It doesn’t matter what jersey they are wearing. You win, you keep wrestling. My dad used to say ‘one match at a time.’ I was never looking ahead and all of sudden, I was in the final.”

In the 2023 Duals Final Fours, Charlotte beat Jesuit but lost to Lake Gibson while Fleming Island defeated Lincoln and Merrit Island to get to the final.

“That Duals final told us that we need to perform on the day,” said Cobbert. “Duals against Individual tournaments are different because more than one team is who you face. When I won my titles (four state titles at Clay High), I focused just on the guy in front of me,” said Cobbert.”Sometimes the kids get to thinking about who they might have in the semis or the quarters and they lose focus. This meet, we were very focused on the guy in front of us.”

Fleming Island garnered 11 individual champions along the way to match the 11 champions and region team title to Class 2A 2023 Duals champion Lake Gibson to set up a showdown of sorts with Lake Gibson who beat Fleming Island for the Duals state title just two months ago.

“We just come back and grind, work and get better,” said Cobbert. “We want them to think they are never doing enough. Keep pushing.”

With just two wrestlers not in the championship matches in Tallahassee, Fleming Island coach P.J. Cobbert will repeat his 11 battlers to state as last year’s with unbeaten senior Jhoel Robinson continuing his trek to avenge his state finals’ loss at 220 from last year.

Also with Robinson, at 132 now, sophomore Jayce Paridon repeated as region champion; at 113 last year, and is on the same trek to avenge a state championship loss from 2022.

“Jhoel just has to keep wrestling,” said Cobbert. “There are guys at the state meet that want to make their season by beating Jhoel and breaking his unbeaten record.”

At Tallahassee, Fleming Island got region titles to sophomore Shane Duhaylungsod at 113, sophomore Laird Duhaylungsod at 126, sophomore Jayce Paridon at 132, junior Kaden Schaefer at 145, junior Chris Chop at 160, senior Ronan Bozeman at 170, senior Joshua Sandoval at 182, senior Jhoel Robinson at 220 and senior Ethan Hoffstetter at 285.

“We had a couple get regions titles and also a couple who won last year that didn’t get it this year,” said Cobbert. “We just have to wrestle to win. Ronan Bozeman is a great example as a three year wrestler that just brings his lunch pail and clocks in. Nobody is going to outwork him.”

From the Fleming Island lineup, the repeats as region champions were both Duhaylungsods, 106 and 120; Paridon 113; Schaefer 138; Kotler 145 and Robinson 182.

Fleming Island got team points from runnerup finishes to junior Matthew Newman at 106 who lost in a tiebreaker to Clay’s Jacob Bucci, who is now 53-1.

Junior Matthew Kotler, at 152, lost a 5-3 final to Lincoln’s Connor Edwards at 152.

At 160, Chris Chop, and, at 170, Sandoval, added points with their championship wins after both finished third in 2022. Hoffstetter won his title at 285 after a runnerup finish in 2022.

For Clay, with Bucci’s win, the Blue Devils stayed in the top five for most of the day with a handful of wrestlers getting the coveted top four finishes; freshman Drew Holmquist, fourth at 113; sophomore Brady Glavin, second at 126 to Laird Duhaylungsod; senior Dominic Martin, second at 170 to Ronan Bozeman; senior Kedtric Wilbourn, fourth at 220, and junior Will Kelly, third at 285.

Oakleaf, with a district title to first-year coach Mark DeToro, will send sophomore Ian Hortinea, third at 120; freshman Sebastian Bonachea, third at 126; junior Keon Barrientos, fourth at 132 with loss to Wyatt Leduc of Middleburg via medical forfeit, and senior Isaiah Shevchook, second at 220 with overtime loss to Ft. Walton Beach’s Darius Brundidge.

Middleburg will finish a strong season with four wrestlers to state; junior Grady Woodard, runnerup at 120 after third period pin in semifinals over Lincoln’s Jashawn Washington; sophomore Wyatt Leduc, third at 132; senior Logan Moore, third at 145, and junior Tucker Cody at 285, who lost in overtime to Fleming Island’s Ethan Hoffstetter in the final.

In region 1-1A, St. Johns Country Day School eighth grader Matthew Braddock’s first-ever wrestling season as a Spartan ended with Braddock finish with one win and two losses in his region debut. Braddock finished his season at 24-7.

Also in region 1-1A, Keystone Heights ended their season with four wrestlers advancing to the region meet; Autrey Contes at 1-6, Riley Mcgorty at 120, Alyx Nichols at 170 and Steven Raab, who finished at 23-9, at 220. McGorty and Raab both won one match at the region meet.


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