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Border Wars an early challenge for Division I hopefuls Holy Cross, Jesuit and St. Paul's
Date, 2018| Written by: Editor



5th ANNUAL Border Wars
645 Greenway Trail
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
December 1st and 2nd, 2017


Make no mistake - the South Walton Border Wars may be an early-season tournament, but it can be a grueling event.  Friday wrestlers compete in Pool Rounds, often maxing out with five matches.  The Pool Round finishes determine which bracket the wrestlers will compete in on Saturday.  In any given year the event features most of the Florida Panhandle schools, and other Florida schools from Jacksonville to Miami.  Georgia and Alabama usually send teams, as does Louisiana, and this year Soddy Daisy of Tennessee will join the fray.  It is not uncommon to see the likes of Tampa Prep's Anthony Artalona, a four-time Fargo Nationals winner and three-time Florida state champion, or Joey Silva of Lake Highland Prep, a four-time Florida state champion whose only loss as a junior came from Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional in Pennsylvania.  Silva won the event in 2014 and Artalona won in 2015 (both will be wrestling their senior years in the 2017-18 season).

Intermixed in all of those teams are Louisiana squads who have had a lot of success in the event.  In the previous four South Walton Border Wars tournaments Louisiana teams have won twice, placed second twice and placed third twice.  They have won 15 championships and 11 runners-up.

Below are some Louisianan highlights of the previous four tournaments.  Also included are the accomplishments of the Pickren brothers: Cody, William and Ethan.  While a freshman at South Walton High School, Cody placed 5th in the 2011 Trygg.  In 2012 he placed second to Rummel's two-time defending Division I state champion Matt Calcotte.  In 2013 he and his freshman brother William each won the event.  William defeated Brother Martin's Steven Shields in 3:10, and Cody handed Brother Martin junior Danny Evans his first loss of the season, a 3-2 affair (Evans would not lose again until the Louisiana state championships).  The Pickrens have been regular participants in the Deep South Bayou Duals and the Jazz Town Duals.  While William will be at Arizona State this season, Ethan is back at South Walton, where he started.  Without meeting South Walton coach Carey Nick and Chris Pickren (the father of Cody, William and Ethan), the editor would not get his December vacation to Destin (only slightly different from the April Spring Breaks of high school and early college).

2013: Brusly handily won the inaugural event in 2013 behind the efforts of champions Kendon Kayser, Noah Landry and Dyllon Prejean and runners-up Baret Sanchez, Wyatt LeJeune, Trevor Schermer and Jovonte Wheeler.  Kayser, then a freshman, was voted the Outstanding Wrestler in the lower weight classes.

Brusly placed first with 168.5 points, outdistancing runner-up Clay, FL, by 61.5 points. Kendon Kayser - 1st @ 126 lbs. Noah Landry - 1st @ 138 lbs. Dillon Prejean - 1st @ 195 lbs. Kayser with Outstanding Wrestler Belt

St. Paul's placed third with a championship by Tanner Leblanc.  East Ascension also had a champion in Conor Karwath.

St. Paul's placed third, 1.5 points behind Clay, FL Tanner Leblanc - 1st @ 160 lbs. East Ascension placed 11th Conor Karwath - 1st @ 285 lbs. Pickren Report: Freshman William - 1st @ 106 lbs.

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2014: Jesuit, Rummel and St. Paul's participated in the event.  The event had an amazing team race in which Vestavia Hills of Alabama defeated Springstead High School and Lake Highland Prep, both of Florida, by 1/2 of a point.  Jesuit placed 4th.  Louisiana had its share of champions though via Jesuit's Guy Patron, Jr., who was voted the outstanding wrestler in the heavier weight classes, and Dominic Carmello.  Rummel's Blake Mateu won a title, as did Colin Francis of St. Paul's.

Jesuit placed 4th Guy Patron, Jr. - 1st @ 195 lbs. Patron, Jr. with his OW belt...and his parents Guy, Sr. and Marie Rummel placed 9th Blake Mateu - 1st @ 106 lbs.

St. Paul's placed 10th Colin Francis - 1st @ 220 lbs. Pickren Report 1: Sophomore William - 1st @ 120 lbs. Pickren Report 2: Senior Cody - 4th @ 145 lbs.

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2015:  Vestavia Hills repeated as team champions.  Holy Cross placed second and Jesuit third.  While not having any champions, the Tigers had four runners-up in Jacob Spahn, Cole Clement, Joey Foret and Randal Amos.  Patron, Jr. won his second title and was declared to have one of two "Best Match" awards for his finals victory.  Nathan Koenig placed second for the Blue Jays.

Holy Cross placed second Jesuit placed 4th Guy Patron, Jr. - 1st @ 195 lbs. Heavy "Best Match" winner Patron, Jr. Pickren Report 1: Freshman Ethan - 1st @ 106 lbs. : Pickren Report 2: Junior William placed 3rd while freshman Ethan placed 1st

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2016: Last season the Holy Cross went "wire-to-wire" in winning the 2016 event, scoring 292.5 points.  Championships for the Tigers were won by Jake Rando, Joey Foret, Michael Benton and Spencer Rayes.  Jesuit placed second with 247 points behind Eli Larriviere's championship.  Shane Ulfers won a championship for St. Paul's, which placed seventh.  Rummel placed 15th with Blake Mateu placing second at 120 lbs.

Holy Cross Tigers - 1st Jake Rando - 1st @ 152 lbs. Joey Foret - 1st @ 170 lbs. OW Foret with South Walton coach Carey Nick Michael Benton - 1st @ 182 lbs. Spencer Rayes - 1st @ 195 lbs.

Jesuit Blue Jays - 2nd Eli Larriviere - 1st @ 145 lbs. Shane Ulfers of St. Paul's - 1st @ 138 lbs. Pickren Report 1: Senior William placed 2nd Pickren Report 2: sophomore Ethan placed 5th

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Louisiana teams scheduled to participate in the 2017 South Walton Border Wars, marking the fifth year of the event, are Holy Cross, Jesuit, St. Paul's and Zachary.  Evidently the fact that the event attracts a varied and often strong teams from Florida, Alabama and Georgia was not lost on new Zachary head coach J.P. Pierre. 

This year's tournament may be Jesuit's to win.  The Blue Jays will bring state champions in Eli Larriviere (2016 LHSAA Division I state champion), who won this event in 2016, 2017 LHSAA Division I state champion Nathan Koenig, who placed second in this event in 2015 and fifth last year, and 2017 LHSAA Division I state champion Perry Ganci, who placed fifth in this event last year.  Adam Larriviere placed second and Sam Dreuil, Paul Treuting and Thomas Arceneaux placed third at the event last season for the Blue Jays.

St. Paul's is also bringing two LHSAA Division I state champions in Cole Houser and Jared Thieler.  Houser placed fourth last year via a last second score by Chace Curtis of Columbia High School (Florida).  While Thieler placed fifth, Brandon Stein placed third for the Wolves.  Grant Hughes and Jake Arena placed 6th.

Defending tournament champion Holy Cross should not be overlooked as a possible repeat champion.  The Tigers will have 2016 Border Wars champion Spencer Rayes, fourth-place winners Jacob Spahn and Brady Butler, and fifth-place winners Caruso Signorelli and Michael Lundin.

Louisiana State Champions Expected at the 2017 South Walton Border Wars

Cole Houser, St. Paul's 2017 Jared Thieler, St. Paul's 2017 Eli Larriviere, Jesuit 2016 Nathan Koenig, Jesuit 2017 Perry Ganci, Jesuit 2017

How the Louisiana state champions fared in previous Border Wars

Cole Houser - 4th for St. Paul's in 2016 Jared Thieler - 5th for St. Paul's in 2016 Eli Larriviere - 1st for Jesuit in 2016 Nathan Koenig - 2nd for Jesuit in 2015 (5th in 2016) Perry Ganci - 3rd for Jesuit in 2016

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Other Louisiana 2017 LHSAA state championships or 2016 South Walton Border War placers expected to compete include the following (2017 LHSAA state championships place, 2016 SWBW place):

Adam Larriviere - Jesuit
(T-7th, 2nd)
Paul Treuting - Jesuit (3rd, 3rd) Thomas Arceneaux - Jesuit (3rd, 3rd) Sam Dreuil - Jesuit (4th, 3rd)

Caruso Signorelli - Holy Cross (2nd, 5th) Michael Lundin - Holy Cross (3rd, 5th) Jacob Spahn - Holy Cross (5th, 4th) Brady Butler - Holy Cross (4th, 3rd) Brandon Stein - St. Paul's (3rd, 3rd) Grant Hughes - St. Paul's (3rd, 6th)

The competition in 2017 will not be easy, but no "one team" stands out as a favorite. Non-Louisianan state champions expected to participate are Jack Johnson of Niceville High School and Gavin Kane of Cambridge, GA.  Cole Maddox of Marietta High School was a Florida state runner-up for Arnold High School last year.  Luella, GA, placed 5th in the Georgia 4A Class and will have senior Daniel Reed, who was a Georgia state runner-up.  Tennessee's Soddy Daisy will have AAA runner-up Tony Wilson.  South Walton has Ethan Pickren, who won this event in 2015.  The toughest Florida team may be Clay High School out of Green Cove Springs, Florida, outside of Jacksonville.  Clay placed second as a team in Florida's 1A Classification, and should bring a very solid team including transfers Daniel Porter and Stevie Chopek, as well as Peyton Hughes, who placed third last season.  Wakulla High School should also be a team championship contender and features heavyweight Darius Wilkins.  Wilkins was considered the second-best heavyweight in Florida last season.  Unfortunately for him, the best heavyweight was also from Wakulla (and won a state title).

Jack Johnson of Niceville, FL Gavin Kane of Cambridge, GA Cole Maddox of Marianna, FL Tony Wilson of
Soddy Daisy, TN

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