PLANT CITY — For the second straight winter, a non-Hillsborough County team — Flagler Palm Coast — raised the championship trophy at the 18th annual Cougar Invitational at Durant High.
The Bulldogs staved off a final-round charge by Spring Hill Springstead, winning 207.5-203.0.
The three-time defending Class 2A state champions from Spring Hill had a tournament-high four champs in six finals bouts.
The swing match was the 170-pound final, when Flagler senior Justin Boyle snapped a 4-4 deadlock with a two-point takedown against Springstead junior Billy Swift with less than a second remaining to seal a 6-4 decision.
Class 3A-District 8 Riverview was the highest-placing Hillsborough County team, finishing third with 172.5 points and one champion.
Robinson (161.0), Hillsborough (142.0) and host Durant (116.0) followed the Sharks.
It was a tough night for Hillsborough County, as 13 wrestlers reached the finals Saturday night, but only two walked away with championship trophies.
Robinson senior Luis Peguero finished 4-0 behind two pins and two major decisions to improve to 22-0 at 182 pounds.
The 2013 defending state champion stuffed Flagler’s Anthony Denson (1:06) and Jupiter Christian’s Will Clivaril (1:13) via pins.
Next, Peguero solved fourth-seeded Kyheem Campbell of King, 15-6, before toppling Hillsborough’s Darius Wilson in the final, 9-1.
“Last year, I was trying to be a state champion; this time I’m defending it,” Peguero said. “Little matches mean a lot now; every time I step on the mat it counts. I have to keep going; I still think I have a lot to learn.”
For his efforts, area coaches voted Peguero as the recipient of one of two outstanding wrestler awards.
Another top seed, Riverview senior Connor Barrick at 195, returned home as a first-time Cougar champion.
After a bye, Barrick opened the meet by pinning Plant’s Ernesto Rivera (5:27) and Hillsborough High senior Christian Flores (3:15).
In Saturday’s final, Barrick nipped Durant senior Alex Rubio, 1-0, to improve to 26-1 this season.
Durant’s Reagan Haley at 132 pounds was one of 11 Hillsborough County grapplers who settled for a silver medal, falling to Springstead junior Andrew Smith.