FPC wrestling coach Zach Sanford was home quarantining, and celebrating, when the Bulldogs won their regional quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Jan. 13 to advance to the state duals tournament for the first time.
He pre-celebrated before the season when he saw that state power Fleming Island had dropped down to Class 2A. Fleming Island has been a regional foe since the FHSAA added a duals state tourney in 2018.
"We've always been stuck behind Fleming," Sanford said. "As soon as I saw they moved to 2A, I said, 'We're gonna go to states.'"
And they are. They will meet Oviedo Hagerty in the Region 1-3A final on Friday, Jan. 21 at the state duals tournament at Kissimmee Osceola High School. The winner will advance to the Class 3A state semifinals on Jan. 22 against Wellington or Fort Pierce Central, with the championship match following.
Last week, the Bulldogs traveled to Creekside High School in St. Johns where they defeated Oakleaf 45-27 in a regional quarterfinal and then knocked off district foe DeLand 42-36 in the semifinal. The 1-2-3-4 punch was too much for those other Bulldogs. Tim King (152), Bryce Dodge (160), Blane DeFord (170) and Marcel Gonzalez (182) all pinned their opponents.
Seth Davis (285) won by decision in the semifinal's second match. Kole Hannant (120) and John Hald (126) also pinned their opponents, and Garrick Schwartz (195) clinched the victory over DeLand with a 3-1 decision.
Sanford expects to be back with his team for state.
Secret weapons propel Pirates to semifinals
Matanzas' boys wrestling team saved a couple of secret weapons for their regional duals — a couple of freshmen who had never wrestled against boys in a high school competition.
Mariah Mills and Tianna Fries mowed down their opponents as easily as they have in matches against girls. They each recorded pins against host Neptune Beach Fletcher in the Region 1-2A quarterfinals on Jan. 13.
"It's something we'd been thinking about for a while," coach T.J. Gillin said. "We have all the confidence in the world in them. They get after it hard. They're the full package. Without Mariah and Tianna, we don't get past Fletcher."
The Pirates defeated Fletcher 44-36 but lost to district foe New Smyrna Beach 44-29 in the regional semifinals. The Barracudas will face Fleming Island at Kissimmee Osceola.
Mills (106) and Fries (113) each won their matches against New Smyrna. Mills' older brothers also scored points against the 'Cudas — Tyson Mills winning by forfeit at 152 and Jordan Mills moving up a weight class to win by technical fall at 182. Bradyn Cox (160) and Landon Wright (170) also won their matches.
On Jan. 15, the Pirates competed in the Wolfpack Challenge at Jacksonville Wolfson where Toryion Stallings (126) and Dylan Parkinson (132) each won their weight classes.