Panhandle Championship sets stage for district tourneys

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 19:00 PM.

LYNN HAVEN — The last major push toward district wrestling tournaments takes place at Mosley.

The Jim Redfern Gymnasium is the site for the annual Panhandle Championship, the two-day event featuring 15 teams, including each of Bay County’s six schools. Matches begin at 2 p.m. Friday and will continue until around 8 p.m. with Saturday’s all-day schedule also staging a junior varsity tournament.

This is the next-to-last weekend before district tournaments, which are the first steps to achieving a state berth. The county teams will stage their championship next week in the final tune-up.

“It’s a great way to end the season,” Mosley coach Matt Duke said. “It can be a real confidence builder as far as districts go.”

Mosley looks to improve on its 13th place finish in last year’s Panhandle Championship. The Dolphins are again led by Forrest Lang, who returns to defend his 152-pound title. Malik Pender also has been a bright spot in an initial season at heavyweight for the Dolphins, who field a roster of all but one weight class in a stark contrast from recent years.

Mosley competes in Class 2A, while Arnold, Bay, Bozeman and Rutherford are in 1A. North Bay Haven is independent this season. Each county school will face teams Friday and Saturday in its respective district draws.

Arnold leads the remaining county schools with standouts Richie McClanahan (120), Brock Carlan (126) and Paul Patterson (132) anchoring the lighter weights. All three are in state rankings on, as is Bozeman’s Jonathan Kenney, who recently won a tournament in Live Oak at 138 pounds.

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