BRANDON — A generation of wrestling was celebrated Saturday night when host Brandon High captured its 25th straight region title at the conclusion of a rugged Class 2A-Region 2 Wrestling Tournament, aka the “Region of Doom.”
Brandon, which hasn’t dropped a regional since 1989, crushed the other 30 teams in the two-day, 16½-hour double-elimination IBT (individually bracketed tournament) field, capturing an amazing 51 of 55 individual bouts behind a meet-best 24 pins.
The host Eagles, in coach Russ Cozart’s 34th season, walked in with 13 grapplers.
On Saturday night, they departed with a tourney-high 13 advancing to the 50th FHSAA State Finals set for Friday and Saturday at The Lakeland Center.
Brandon crowned nine of its meet-high 10 finalists and added three third-place finishers, totaling 300 points compared to runner-up Jesuit’s 164.5 points.
“ ‘The Doom’ lived up to its billing,” Cozart said. “We had quality kids in so many quality matches, and we had some great finals matches.
“We had a little of everything — some pins, blowouts and nail biters.”
Brandon’s regional champs included: sophomore Frank Bruno (47-0 this season) at 106 pounds, sophomore Kyle Norstrem (66-0) at 113, senior James Flint (29-0) at 126, junior Dylan Lucas (63-0) at 132, senior Devan Berrian (66-2) at 138, junior Troy Joyce (65-3) at 145, junior Dakota Greene (65-1) at 160, junior Dontae McGee (54-0) at 170 and junior Robert Enmon (62-2) at 220.
Jesuit advanced nine wrestlers to state, led by two regional champions — freshman Nick Mosco (28-3) at 195 pounds and senior Austin Underwood (31-0) at 285.
Unlike anyone else in the tourney, Underwood pinned four opponents en route to the first-place blue ribbon.
Hillsborough County’s other individual region championship belonged to Robinson senior Luis Peguero (45-0) at 182.
- Tony Castro
2A-3: Three Fivay grapplers advance
Fivay’s Cole Manion (120 pounds), Andrew Scherer (160) and Nico Lightfoot (182) advanced to next week’s state tournament with top-four finishes Saturday at the Class 2A-Region 3 tournament at Charlotte High in Punta Gorda.
Manion survived a brutally tough 120-pound weight class to bring home a fourth-place finish. Scherer, who only had one loss coming into this weekend, finished second. He lost a 5-1 decision to Palmetto Ridge’s Chase Singletary, the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 160 pounds.
At 182 pounds, the final was another match between Lightfoot and River Ridge’s Max Reynolds. They had wrestled four times previously this season, with each winning twice. This time, it was Reynolds with a hard-fought 4-3 decision.
Mitchell High, despite close finishes, was unable to qualify anybody to the state tournament. That doesn’t mean the Mustangs wrestled poorly. Dustin Watt (113 pounds), Josh Brooks (138), and Conner Murchie (220) all came within one match of qualifying. All three lost heartbreaking matches in the consolation semifinals.
- Steve Campbell
3A-2: Two Hillsborough wrestlers lose in finals
Only two wrestlers from Hillsborough County — Sickles’ Andrew Martin (152) and Riverview’s Connor Barrick (195) — reached a weight class final at Saturday’s Class 3A-Region 2 tournament at Kissimmee Osceola.
Both Martin and Barrick, however, fell just short in their championship matches: Martin lost on a pin and Barrick in a 4-3 decision.
Kissimmee Osceola won the team title with 208 points, followed by Palm Harbor University (161.5), North Port (137.5) and Lakeland George Jenkins (129.0). The highest team finishers from Hillsborough County were Durant in 10th (46 points) and Sickles in 11th (41).
- Scott Purks
1A-3: Terrapins send five to state tourney
TAMPA — It didn’t go perfectly, but it went very well for Tampa Prep at Saturday’s Class 1A-Region 3 wrestling tournament at Berkeley Prep.
The Terrapins ended up in fourth place with 125 points, the highest place for a school from Hillsborough County and a solid point total considering they brought only seven to the tournament.
Perhaps the best news was that Tampa Prep advanced five wrestlers — Aaron Mills (106), Anthony Artalona (120), Donoven Hough (126), Landon Carter (132) and Leo Tarantino (138) — to the state tournament, where they appear to have solid shots at placing, if not winning titles.
“We were hoping to have seven advance, and all of the guys fought hard, but some matches just didn’t go our way,” said Tampa Prep coach Andy Bricker, who after six years at Tampa Prep is taking five wrestlers to the state tournament for the first time. “Overall, we feel good about our effort.”
Tampa Prep’s region champs included Artalona (4-0 at regions with four pins), Hough (won 7-4 in final) and Tarantino (won 7-1). Artalona and Tarantino are eighth-graders.
Hough, a two-time defending state champion at Armwood before transferring over the summer to Tampa Prep, had a tough match against Keaton Koselke of Mariner in the final, which could be a preview of next week’s state final.
Mills’ championship match Saturday against Tampa Bay HEAT’s Cullen Telfer could also be repeated in the state final. Telfer won 4-3 on Saturday in triple overtime.
Mariner ended up winning the team title with 138.5 points, followed by Mariner (133.5), and Dunedin (131).
- Scott Purks
1A-2: Pasco’s Ivie wins region crown
Pasco’s Andrew Ivie was dominant from start to finish this weekend, pinning all four opponents on his way to the Class 1A-Region 2 title in the 285-pound weight class at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs.
After back-to-back weekends with first-place finishes, the Pirates had to settle for third in the team competition. Heavily favored Lake Highland Prep and Clay lived up to expectations, running away with the top two spots.
Pasco had 10 wrestlers competing in the tournament, and three finished fourth or higher, which is needed to advance to the state tournament next weekend in Lakeland.
Joining Ivie at the state meet in Lakeland are Lukas Twardosky, who was third at 106 pounds, and Skyler White (second at 138 pounds).
White, who was a 1A state runner-up last year, lost 4-2 in the final to Lake Highland Prep’s Anthony Petrone. There’s a good chance they will meet again next week in Lakeland.
Ivie was dominant from start to finish this weekend. His first two pins were in 19 and 20 seconds, respectively. That set up a semifinal rematch against Roland Samec of Clay. Samec had pinned Ivie earlier this season at the Gulf holiday dual tournament. Ivie avenged the loss with a first-period pin, setting up a final against Weeki Wachee’s Anthony Vines. Ivie dispatched Vines in 1:50 to win the championship.
Elsewhere, Gulf, Anclote and Wesley Chapel each sent two through to the state tournament. Kruse, a 182-pound senior who finished fourth in the state last season, was upended in the final by Central’s Ben Brown, 13-5. Fellow Buccaneer Robert Napolitano finished third at 145 pounds. Jonte Scott (152) and Brandon McQuinn (113) will be representing Anclote next weekend in Lakeland. For Wesley Chapel, Jon Galvan (126) and Nathan Love (182) finished second and third, respectively.
- Steve Campbell