LAKELAND — The points piled up for Brandon during Friday’s first round of the state wrestling tournament, and unless the world ends this morning, the Eagles will clinch their 14th consecutive state team title and 25th overall this evening at The Lakeland Center.
In typical dominating fashion, Brandon advanced 10 wrestlers to this morning’s Class 2A semifinals and finished the day with 104.5 points, 46 ahead of Jesuit, which has plenty to crow about in its own right.
Jesuit advanced five wrestlers to the semifinals, including three — Adam Lewis (138 pounds), Nick Mosco (195) and Austin Underwood (285) — who are among the favorites to take individual titles.
Lewis might have the toughest battle because in the final he most likely would face Brandon’s Devan Berrian, who is 68-2 and has defeated Lewis in previous matches.
As far as team milestones, Brandon has a chance to put 10 wrestlers in the finals, which would break its previous record of nine. That said, the Eagles could also break their record of seven state champions.
“It’s certainly not out of the question,” Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. “Our guys are wrestling with a lot of passion and purpose. There is no lack of motivation in this group. They all want to be Florida state champions.”
Five Eagles could not only win state titles but also finish the season undefeated, — Frankie Bruno at 106 (49-0), Kyle Norstrem at 113 (68-0), James Flint at 126 (31-0), Dylan Lucas at 132 (65-0) and Dontae McGee at 170 (56-0).
Two other wrestlers from Hillsborough County — Robinson’s Luis Peguero at 182 (47-0) and Jesuit’s Underwood (33-0) — could also finish the season undefeated.
By the time the 2A tournament ends, it’s conceivable that Brandon, Jesuit and Robinson could combine for 11 state titles in the 14 weights classes.
In 1A, Tampa Prep fared the best among area schools, finishing the first day in fourth place with 38 points, 40.5 behind Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons.
Individually, the Terrapins advanced three wrestlers to today’s semifinals: Anthony Artalano at 120, two-time defending state champion Donoven Hough at 126, and Leto Tarantino at 138.
In 3A, Palm Harbor University had the best showing among area schools, finishing the first day in fifth place with 40 points. Two PHU wrestlers, Jared Prince at 126 and Connor Prince at 132, remained undefeated on the season with 64-0 and 63-0 records, respectively.
Pasco, Fivay still have three wrestlers alive
LAKELAND — It was a mixed bag of results for the Pasco county wrestlers in the first two rounds of the FHSAA championships.
Pasco and Fivay were each represented by three wrestlers, and they are all still alive. For the Pirates, Lukas Twardosky (106 pounds), Skyler White (138) and Andrew Ivie (285) all suffered setbacks in the quarterfinal round, but they battled back in the wrestlebacks to stay alive.
Fivay’s Andrew Scherer suffered an upset in the first round when he lost a 9-7 decision to Inverness Citrus’ Brandon Taylor in overtime. Scherer rebounded with decisions in the next two rounds of wrestlebacks against Dilano Taylor of Stranahan and Jaycie Rudd of Tallahassee Lincoln.
Cole Manion (120) and Nico Lightfoot (182) are also still alive for the Falcons. Lightfoot survived with an incredible 8-7 four overtime ultimate tiebreaker against Merritt Island’s Damon McCurry.
Fivay coach Matt Bullwinkel was impressed with Lightfoot’s resiliency. “That was a really tough wrestler to run into in wrestlebacks,” Bullwinkel said. “What he (Lightfoot) did in that last overtime period was impressive.”
Lightfoot’s county rival at 182 pounds, River Ridge’s Max Reynolds, is also still alive. After winning his first match with a pin, Reynolds lost a tough match to highly ranked Sawyer Root of Harmony. Reynolds rebounded with a 9-0 decision against Nick Umana of Archbishop McCarthy.
Elsewhere, Gulf’s Jarred Kruse advanced to the semifinals with a 14-4 decision against Cardinal Gibbons’ Diego Bell and a 8-7 decision against Lely’s Tremaine McClendon. Kruse, who likes to rely on a variety of upper-body throws, had to change his game plan when McClendon refused to tie up with him. He was able to take McClendon down twice in the final period to pull out the victory.
“Jarred really handled his first match well,” coach Mike Calafiore said. “The second match was a nail-biter, but I was proud of him for going out of his element. He wrestled smart and didn’t try his usual throws that he has success with.”
Kruse will take on Brandon Marshall of Jacksonville Bishop Snyder in the semifinals.
Wesley Chapel’s 126-pound Jon Galvan, who finished third at state last year, reached the semifinals with two pins. He will face Anthony Vazquez of Cardinal Gibbons.
Wiregrass Ranch’s 113-pound Jarred Lanier is also in the semifinal after two decisions, and he will face Caleb Smith of Lake Gibson.