- January 10, 2023
T.J. McLean didn't have fond memories of the Flagler Rotary wrestling tournament. As a Flagler Palm Coast freshman last year, McLean went 0-2 at the tourney. This year, he won a championship.
Now a sophomore at Matanzas, McLean won the 106-pound title Saturday, Jan. 28, at the 37th annual Flagler Rotary at FPC. Matanzas 113-pounder Kaden Golder also won a title, and the Pirates sent five wrestlers to the finals on the way to a third-place team finish. FPC finished fifth for the second year in a row.
"We were third in 2019, but we had no one in the finals that year," Matanzas coach T.J. Gillin said. "To have five in the finals, that's a first for us. It's a big deal."
Matanzas and FPC each had six wrestlers make the medal round. Toryion Stallings (126 pounds), Dylan Parkinson (152) and Jordan Mills (170) all finished second for the Pirates. Dalton Schell finished second at 195 pounds for FPC.
Harmony High School won the 32 team-tourney with 218.5 points, followed by Winter Springs (172.5), Matanzas (170), Bartram Trail (142) and FPC (140.5).
McLean (33-4) pinned Harmony's Tristan Horn (27-7) in 3:40 in the final. At the end, Horn tried taking down McLean with a lateral drop.
"I landed on my back, threw my legs over him and pinned him," McLean said.
"T.J. put a lot of work in during the summer, going from camp to camp," Gillin said. "He's starting to put offense on his feet. He's very tough when he's on top."
McLean is ranked third in the state in Class 2A. The other two wrestlers in the top three are in the same district as Matanzas. McLean said he transferred because he lives down the street from Matanzas and FPC was in transition with its coaching staff.
"I'm training harder. Last year, I weighed 100 pounds, wrestling at 106. Now I'm cutting weight for 106."
— T.J. MCLEAN
"I'm training harder," he said. "Last year, I weighed 100 pounds, wrestling at 106. Now I'm cutting weight for 106."
Golder transferred from Mainland High School before the school year. He improved to 25-4 with a pin at 2:36 over Carmen Dibella (11-1) of Bartram. Golder notched four straight pins in the tournament. He hasn't lost a 113-pound match all season.
"Once he got on top, he put them on their backs," Gillin said. "He's probably the biggest, strongest 113-pounder there is."
Parkinson (31-6) lost to undefeated Roberto Cuartero of Bishop Kenny by pin the final after notching three wins on the mat. Stallings lost by pin to 2022 Class 3A state runner-up Ethan Vugman (39-1) of Bartram in the final after winning three straight matches.
Mills (14-1) lost his first match of the season by injury default in the final to Elijah Penton (35-0) of Winter Springs. Mills felt soreness in the shoulder that he injured in October and kept him out of the first part of the season.
"Dalton stuck to his game plan. When Dalton Schell is wrestling his match, he's pretty hard to beat."
— DAVID BOSSARDET, FPC coach
"He said it was just sore (the following day), and he had full range of motion. We can't risk him injuring it," Gillin said. "To win state, this is the guy (he's) going to have to beat."
Schell (33-5) lost a 5-3 decision to Isaiah Shevchook of Oakleaf in the final. Schell decisioned Newsome's Peyton Turner in the semifinal, 8-6.
"Dalton stuck to his game plan," FPC coach David Bossardet said. "When Dalton Schell is wrestling his match, he's pretty hard to beat."
Also placing for the Bulldogs were: Kole Hannant (34-6), fourth at 132 pounds; Hayden Herndon (25-6), fourth at 145 pounds; Kelton Howard (25-7), fifth at 160 pounds; Brandon Calidonio (26-6), fifth at 182 pounds; and Ethan Laupepa (26-9), third at 220 pounds. Laupepa went 4-1 with a pin against Lake Brantley's Shawn Hernandez in the third-place match.
Landon Wright (24-10) finished fourth at 160 pounds for Matanzas.