Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blue Devils Rise to the Top in Meet; Clay High School Wrestlers Are Champions at 2006 Rotary Invitational

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blue Devils Rise to the Top in Meet; Clay High School Wrestlers Are Champions at 2006 Rotary Invitational

Article excerpt

Byline: Brent Beaird

The Clay High School wrestling team won round one over the top-ranked team in the state in last weekend's 17-team 2006 Clay Rotary Invitational held in its home gym.

The Blue Devils, ranked No. 2 in the Class A state poll, scored 191 points. Suwannee, the No. 1 team, had 175 points. Other Clay County teams and their finishes were: Fleming Island, No. 8, Ridgeview, No. 9, Middleburg, No. 12 and Orange Park, No. 13.

Garrett Soileau (103 pounds), Jesse Velasco (112) and Andy Milburn (140) all won individual titles for Clay. Ridgeview's Mike DiPaul (171) also won his weight class.

Clay wrestling coach James Reape said he felt great about winning the tournament despite difficult competition.

"We keep it in perspective though," Reape said. "We had three champions and 13 other guys who felt like they could have done better. That's just a part of the nature of the sport." Reape also praised the efforts of Stephen Joseph (119) and Cory Baudendistal (130), who finished second, Travis Hartzog (125), and Stoney Raymond, who finished third, and Larry Carnes (152), who finished fourth.

The Blue Devils have little time to appreciate their championship because they travel to Suwannee next for a similar multi-team tournament.

"We go to Suwannee next week to see another tough field. Our big goal is to go to the podium Feb. 19 in Lakeland to get our second state title in three years," Reape said. Suwannee had two champions and three runners-up in the tournament. Their coach, David Laxton, said his team was not up to par.

"We had not wrestled in a month and some of our guys were flat the first day," he said. Laxton praised Reape and the other Clay County teams for their constant improvement.

"Coach Reape does a super job," Laxton said. "They have a long tradition started by [former coach and current principal] Pete McCabe. …

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