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Holton, Logan, Smith lead grapplers against Georgia

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 1/13/21

FLEMING ISLAND – An expected clash with a former Florida foe and former coach was exactly what Fleming Island High wrestling coach P.J. Cobbert got when Brunswick High showed up for the Keystone …

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Holton, Logan, Smith lead grapplers against Georgia


FLEMING ISLAND – An expected clash with a former Florida foe and former coach was exactly what Fleming Island High wrestling coach P.J. Cobbert got when Brunswick High showed up for the Keystone Memorial Wrestling Invitational on Saturday.

“We knew they were going to be tough and we would have to wrestling at championship level to win,” said Cobbert, who got three individual titles with Riley Holton, newcomer Xavier Logan and Gavin Smith all taking titles en route to holding off Brunswick by, 213.0 to 198.0 for the Keystone win. “This is an awkward year because of everything going on we haven’t had as many tournaments as we have in the past. It’s all about mat time and doing the work to get better.”

Brunswick, coached by former Fleming Island coach Larry Insalaco and former Flagler Palm Coast coach Tom Bartolotta, came in as a top 10 state finisher for Georgia the past two seasons. Brunswick, set to wrestle for their duals region title this week, recently defeated powerhouse Richmond Hill, third a state last year, in regular season action.

Fletcher finished third at 163.0 with Oakleaf battling to a fourth place finish at 129.0. Middleburg was 10th at 69.0.

Fleming Island was second in Class 3A last year while Brunswick came in after a 10th place in Class AAAAAA last year in Georgia.

Holton, who had a disappointing and unexpected loss last week in Fleming Island’s Duals Tournament win over Oakleaf High, stormed back to state meet form to win by major decision 11-0 over Brunswick’s Peter McKinney, 22-1 coming in.

“I will only say that I was dealing with weight issues last week at Oakleaf,” said Holton, 17-2. “This was my payback tournament. The whole team has been working to fill all the weight classes.”

One eye-opening set of matches was Fleming Island’s gauntlet of finalists from 152 through 182 only producing one title with David Parkes losing in overtime at 152, Joshua Sandoval losing a 14-8 match at 160 to Mosley High strongman Noe Pena and Jhoel Robinson lost 10-8 to Raines High’s Raynarde Wilson. Smith’s win was the final match of the gauntlet.

“They were all super close matches; they wrestled good people,” said Smith, a state qualifier last year at 170 with just one loss this year against Richmond Hill (GA). “It felt weird being the only one to win from that group. I’m feeling really good at 182; I was up at 195 but cut back to 182. I came in expecting to win because I’m faster and stronger than last year.”

Smith, rifled through his bracket with a technical fall 15-0 win, a pin in the semifinals and a dramatic pin just at the buzzer of the first period against Glynn County Academy (GA Class AAAAAA) Jackson Wakeland, who came in at 21-2 for the season, was a Georgia state meet athlete last year. Smith improved to 16-1.

For Logan, a new face on the Fleming Island roster, a hard fought 4-2 win over Mandarin’s Jameel Smith pust some fresh points on the scoreboard while putting his name in the hat as a region contender.

“He’s a young pup that has been working hard to crack the lineup,” said Cobbert.

Fleming Island’s Hunter Herrington, third last year at 113 who had been top ranked at 113 in Class 3A, got a brutal matchup with Raines High’s De’Qhan King that wound up a 3-2 loss in a possible state meet preview. King lost in his Class 1A semifinal last year to eventual 113 champion Elijah Lusk of Merrit Island before finishing third.

For Oakleaf and Middleburg, the tournament had some highlights with Oakleaf’s Jordan Mitchell beating Fleming Island’s Ethan Hoffstetter at 285 by pin and Oakleaf’s Isaiah Schevchook beating Fleming Island’s Hunter Williams 6-2 at 195. Shevchook, who was pinned by Williams in their district duals match last week, was pinned in the final by Florida High’s Micah Perdue. Mitchell, pinned by Hofstetter last week, finished third with a 9-4 win over Collin Crosby of Colquitt County (GA).

Trevor Owens got a 12-11 win over Fleming Island’s Garrett Cole to win fifth place at 138. Kevin Gilley placed third at 120 with a win over teammate Markos Barfield.

For Middleburg, Alex Nayfack was top finisher with a third at 160. Nayfack lost his semifinal to Pena of Mosley before beating Titus Washington of Brunswick 6-0 for third.

At 170, Middlburg’s Eliyah Cole lost an 11-0 match to Fleming Island’s Robinson in his opening match then strung out three pins before losing by pin in the fifth place match to Brunswick’s Leon Charlton, 18-1 season record.

Fleming Island continues in the state Duals Tournament with a January 14 date at Gainesville Buchholz. Fleming Island will face Flagler Palm

Coast in the first match with Buchholz facing Bartram Trail. The winners will face off the same night for a state Final Four berth.

On the opposite side of the region bracket, a Fleming Island win will bring winners from Timber Creek vs. Apopka and Windermere vs. Hagerty.

Clay High, who won their fourth district duals title last week, will host Episcopal also on January 14 with Yulee and Bolles in the opposite semifinal.

At the top of the region 1A bracket, a Clay will pit the Blue Devils against South Walton, Rocky Bayou or Wakulla at the January 22 state Final Four in Kissimmee.

Clay won its duals districts with dominating wins of 79-0 over Bolles and 72-9 over Union County.

In Class 2A locally, Ponte Vedra will wrestling St. Augustine in New Smyrna Beach with Fletcher facing New Smyrna Beach. On the opposite end of the bracket are Chiles vs. Pace and Fort Walton Beach vs. Lincoln.

The state Duals Championships is scheduled for January 22-23 at Osceola High School.