Wrestling: East Bayâs Kevin Clayton remains unbeaten
GIBSONTON — East Bay’s Kevin Clayton capped a 42-5 record last season with his first state appearance and fell short of his semifinal goal by one round. The senior, who wrestles at 195 pounds, has loftier goals for this season.
On Saturday afternoon, Clayton capped the two-day East Bay 10-way tournament with his ninth straight victory, all by pins. That improved his season record to 27-0.
“What’s working is having a good wrestling partner (in 182-pound teammate Sebastian Johnson) and going out to Brandon for more practice,” he said, alluding to Brandon’s evening sessions that are open to wrestlers from all schools that practice in the late afternoons.
“It’s intensity and moves. I’m more focused this year. Last year I choked at states.”
Clayton’s performance helped host East Bay tie Freedom for third place at 6-3 in the weekend meet. Brandon, which earlier this season won the Riverview 10-way meet, won against nine other schools on Friday and Saturday to improve its overall season record to 26-0. At 7-2, Plant was the runnerup and now stands at 14-5 overall.
“They really responded today and got after it,” said Plant coach Bryan Kenney, who earlier this week hosted and defeated Jefferson at Dads Stadiium in Hillsborough County’s first-ever outdoor dual match.
On a disheartening note for Kenney and the Panthers, co-captain Anthony Cordero, a standout at 138, dislocated an elbow. The coach is not certain if one of his top wrestlers will be lost for the season, though.
In one of Saturday’s closest team matchups, Plant edged East Bay 46-40, leading Indians coach Erik Matricardi to say, “That loss to Plant’s going to haunt me.”
This marked the third straight year East Bay hosted a 10-way tourney. In previous seasons, the Indians hosted six-way meets. Among other coaches, Matricardi is in favor of the additional teams.
“The good thing about a 10-way is there’s more mat time,” he said. “You get to see more competition.”
At 5-4, Blake was the only other team with a winning record.