Matanzas' Quenteen Robinson took third, while FPC's Blane DeFord and A.J. Cinelli placed fourth in their respective weight classes.
Only three times in the history of Matanzas wrestling has a Pirates wrestler ever finished the season with a win. Pirates senior Quenteen Robinson has done it twice.
Robinson was one of five Matanzas grapplers to qualify for the Class 2A FHSAA Wrestling State Championships, held March 6-7 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
Robinson, who competes in the 170-pound weight class, was 10 pounds overweight the day before the tournament. He drilled and ran mercilessly to make weight.
After taking a 5-3 loss to Charlotte’s Cody Rice in the semifinals, Robinson (42-4) rallied with two straight wins. He took down Winter Springs’ Joe Burgess 9-6 and Fort Myers’ Riley Hackworth 5-4 to finish in third place.
“I came in there trying to win, but it didn’t really go as planned,” said Robinson, who dyed his hair blue (Matanzas’ school color) for the tournament. “But it was a great experience.”
Robinson, who placed fifth at last season’s state championships, has been wrestling for the Pirates since he was sophomore.
“Coming back after a semifinal loss and taking third is the toughest thing to do in wrestling,” Matanzas first-year head coach T.J. Gillin said. “It’s a hard thing to do. He may not realize it now, but that’s pretty special.”
Although Robinson’s high school career is now over, his wrestling career is not. He still has Nationals and AAU States coming up.
And then college.
“I wish I would have won this past weekend,” he said. “But I gave it all I had.”
FPC wrestling trending upward
After a rebuilding year in 2018-19, Flagler Palm Coast’s boys wrestling team saw a surge this past season. The Bulldogs defeated crosstown rival Matanzas, won the 3A-District 2 Duals championship, won the Five Star Conference title, won the 3A-District 2 championship (a feat they hadn’t accomplished since 2015) and qualified four wrestlers for the Class 3A State Championships.
“There’s something in the water here,” FPC second-year head coach Zach Sanford said. “The kids come in and they want to work. You don’t have to remind them. They’re self-motivated. I have to put the breaks on for them sometimes because they go so hard.”
Of the four Bulldogs to compete in the event, two placed.
Senior A.J. Cinelli (285-pound weight class) and sophomore Blane DeFord (145-pound weight class) each took fourth.
After a loss to Newsome’s Parker Drake, DeFord (53-8) had three pins to bounce back. Cinelli lost in the semifinals to Olympic Heights’ Wilkenson Saul but worked his way back with a takedown in sudden victory for a 4-2 win over Stoneman Douglas’ Joshua Frais.
“It’s hard to describe how I feel,” Cinelli said. “Making it to states was a big goal of mine. It was surreal, in a sense. I didn’t think I would make it that far.”
In addition, the Bulldogs are excited about the team’s upward trend.
“We’re climbing the scale,” DeFord said. “We’ve got a pretty good shot. We’ve got a good group of guys. They see our ultimate goal, which is a state championship.”