Area wrestlers heading to FHSAA Finals

Area wrestlers heading to FHSAA Finals


Area wrestlers heading to FHSAA Finals


By the time he and his Lincoln High teammates load up the vans and make their way to Lakeland for this weekend’s state tournament, Tristan Sommer will have suited up and practiced in his school’s mat room for the last time.

Then he’ll go for one more weigh-in before wrestling the final matches of his high school career.

Sommer, one of the most successful high school wrestlers in the region’s history, has a chance to end his already exceptional run with even more hardware.

The defending state champion, who has won 60 consecutive matches, is one of 12 area wrestlers who will descend upon the 8,000-seat Lakeland Center in hopes of earning a medal.

Should Sommer defend his title, he’ll be Tallahassee’s first ever back-to-back champion.

“It’s bittersweet. I’ve been wrestling since sixth grade,” he said. “It’s been my life for a long time. … It would be a great feeling knowing that I’ve done something no one else has.”

Sommer, who wrestles at 152 pounds, will by joined by six Lincoln teammates – Jacob Geiger, Austin Wild, David Edmunds, Jaycie Rudd, Jerrin Gilmore and Jason Osagie.

Trojans coach Mike Crowder has placed a state qualifier in each of his 19 years at Lincoln and has had at least one wrestler medal in each of the last 10 years.

“No matter what happens, just getting to this point changes you,” Crowder said.

“Once you get to the state tournament it changes how you wrestle the next year. Just because you have that confidence and belief in who you are, just because you’ve done it.

“I expect all my guys to go out there and win matches.”

Chiles will bring state tournament experience to Lakeland, too, as senior Kevin Hilton (160 pounds) is back after placing fifth a year ago. Joining him will be 132-pound junior Winslow Robinson, who punched his ticket to the finals after coming a match short last year, and 195-pound senior Fred Saliba.

And Godby will be represented by heavyweight MaShawn Knight, a two-sport athlete who also played for the Cougars’ football team, and 106-pound junior James Boyd.

Knight carries a grade-point average above 3.0 and recently earned Godby’s nomination for the Best and Brightest Award for athletics.

Both he and Boyd finished as runner-ups in last week’s regional tournament.

“We’re going to go out and wrestle that first match like it’s the state championship,” Cougars coach Chuck Kilbourn said.

“If we win that, wrestle that second match like it’s the state championship. We feel like we’ve got a good shot.”

Each wrestler will be familiar with the tournament’s format, which will be the same 16-man bracket they navigated through last week.

The key then, according to Chiles coach James Marschka, is to stick with what works and stay composed while on the sport’s biggest stage.

“There’s no easy matches,” Marschka said.

“So they’ve got to continue to wrestle like they’ve been wrestling and have confidence in themselves and their moves.”


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