GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Middleburg High undefeated defending state champion wrestler Cheyenne Cruce cruised to her second Clay Rotary title with two first-period pins against the solo opponent in her …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Middleburg High undefeated defending state champion wrestler Cheyenne Cruce cruised to her second Clay Rotary title with two first-period pins against the solo opponent in her 190 weight class, while the rest of the Lady Broncos team, the defending Clay Rotary team champions, battled relentlessly to a third place finish against defending state champion Matanzas and a highly-touted Flagler Palm Coast team with the girls matches maybe overshadowing some of the boys matches according to Clay High wrestling coach Jim Reape.
"I think the girl's event had a little more firepower than the boy's events only because we have had the likes of Tampa Jesuit, Charlotte and Fleming Island here in past years," said Reape. "Most of the girl's matches were either decided quickly or were battles to the final whistle."
For Middleburg girls wrestling coach Jamie Harrison, the Lady Broncos are right on the bubble of being a legitimate state contender this season.
"I'd say wait until next year as most of our girls are freshmen and sophomores with Cheyenne a junior," said Harrison. "The team is getting tougher and tougher each match and when we show up with a five-loss team record, some teams may take us lightly, but that is a strong five-loss record. We don't shy away from competition."
To start the final round of competition, two of the smallest athletes in the Clay High gym; Middleburg's 106 Skyla Fisher (11-5, 13th in 105), take on Clay's Vasheer Burke (26-5, 12th at 100) in what became a crowd favorite such that tournament officials had to halt the match to clear fans from crowding the outside of the mat.
Ironically, on the boy's championship match, Fisher's older brother, Gavin Fisher, was taking on Oakleaf's Connor Barnes for the same title.
With Fisher taking control with two takedowns; one a headlock hip throw, in the first period, but unable to get Burke on her back, the duo ended at 4-3 after the first period.
In the second period, Burke had Fisher on her back in a cradle with just two seconds on the clock before the period ended with Burke now leading 6-4.
On the boy's side, Gavin Fisher was up 8-3 in that second period with Fisher holding to an 8-5 win.
After officials cleared the mats of fans wanting to get as close as possible to the Fisher/Burke match, the score got to 9-9 with a Fisher takedown before the match ended with a pin by Skyla Fisher.
"While I was wrestling, I was just trying to focus on staying calm and keeping composed and not making mistakes," said Skyla Fisher. "I pushed her head hard into the mat and that got her mad and she made a mistake and I got the pin."
Though her brother was less than 15 feet away, Skyla Fisher never took a glance.
"I couldn't see Gavin on the next mat, but it was nice to win a gold medal at the same time as my brother," said Skyla Fisher, a sophomore.
In the team scores, Matanzas dominated with 167.5 points with Flagler second at 138.0 and Middleburg third at 107.0.
Middleburg got their points from Fisher and Cruce wins; a third by Lily Bradshaw at 100, a third by Callia Kuroski at 110, a fourth from Memphis Moses at 115 and a second at 120 from Sarah Walsh.
In 2023, Middleburg finished fifth at the state championships behind Matanzas, Freedom, Apopka and Osceola. Flagler a noted Class 3A power in boys wrestling reversed a no-state meet season to a powerful
Flagler had four individual champions while Matanzas won the championship with four champions also and two runner-ups.
Oakleaf had Jazmine Sotofourth at 105 and Jazzmine Moore second at 235, losing by a pin to Matanzas' Ani Brown in the third period. Oakleaf was without state qualifiers Kailani Barrientos, currently ranked second at 135, and Jayla Harrison, currently ranked 10th at 170.
Fleming Island had one wrestler; Auryanna Phelps, who won one match and lost two.
Clay also had Robynne Myer at 125 who beat Amorita Nazario of Atlantic Coast by major decision before losing two.