LAKELAND — Brandon not only won its 14th consecutive state team wrestling title Saturday night at the raucous Lakeland Center, but also it did it in particularly devastating fashion.
For starters, consider that five Eagles finished the season undefeated: Frankie Bruno at 106 pounds (51-0), Kyle Norstrem at 113 (71-0), James Flint at 126 (33-0), Dylan Lucas at 132 (67-0) and Dontae McGee at 170 (58-0).
Enough? Not hardly. Two more Eagles, Devan Berrian at 138 and Dakota Greene at 160, also won Class 2A state titles, and two others, Ty Lucas at 120 and Troy Joyce at 145, finished as state runners-up.
The seven individual state titles tied Brandon’s state single-season record of seven state champs. This group of seven, however, may have finished with the best overall combined won-lost record on a season — an eye-popping 421-3.
“Our guys were all over it,” Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. “We weren’t backing down from anything, we were going after the wins.”
For Flint and Lucas, it marked four state individual titles, a feat that was extremely satisfying for Flint after finishing as a state runner-up last year and suffering a torn meniscus on the first day of practice this season.
“I had to miss more than a month of practice,” Flint said. “I worked hard to come back and it feels so good to finish this way.”
Besides the Brandon contingent, there were two other state champs from Hillsborough County: Tampa Prep’s Anthony Artalona at 120 pounds in Class 1A and Jesuit’s Austin Underwood at 285.
Several Hillsborough County contenders fell just short in championship matches, including two-time defending state champ Donoven Hough, who fell 4-3 in the 126-pound Class 1A final, and defending state champion Luis Peguero from Robinson, who lost 3-1 in the Class 2A 182-pound final.
Jesuit’s Adam Lewis (138) and Nick Mosco (195) also finished as state runners-up for the second consecutive year.
Jesuit did finish second as a team in Class 2A with 119.5 points, but well behind Brandon’s 270.5. Tampa Prep took third in Class 1A with 80.5 points, 85.5 points behind the Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons.
In Class 3A, Palm Harbor University was the highest area finisher in fifth place with 88 points, well behind the winner South Dade at 174.5 points.
Scott becomes first Anclote state placer
LAKELAND — Jonte Scott became the first state placer for Anclote High, finishing in third place in the Class 1A 152-pound weight class Saturday.
After winning his first-round match, Scott was matched up against Indian Rocks Christian’s Connor Allshouse. Allshouse, a fifth-place state finisher last season, edged Scott 2-1 in a grueling match Friday night, knocking Scott into the wrestlebacks. From there, Scott went on a roll. After pinning Larry Padgett of Menendez, Scott earned three consecutive decisions. He defeated Godwin Ferrier of Monsignor Pace 4-0 and Conner Steinfield of Sarasota Military 3-2, setting up the consolation finals against Devin Combs of Marianna. Scott used this quickness and athleticism to outlast Combs 8-5.
Despite it being his first time in the state tournament, Scott envisioned himself succeeding this weekend. “I expected it, because I’m the truth,” Scott said. “I just do what coach tells me to.”
Anclote coach Nick Radner was not surprised with Scott’s third-place finish. “It’s amazing how far how he has come,” Radner said. “He was learning moves before he even knew what the name of the moves were. He’s got an incredible brain in the wrestling room.”
Fivay’s three wrestlers all had successful weekends in 2A action. Cole Manion (120) finished 5th and Andrew Scherer (160) and Nico Lightfoot (182) finished fourth and third, respectively. With Brandon joining the already competitive 2A, which already included state powers Springstead, Lakeland Lake Gibson and Jesuit, Fivay’s three seniors were facing stacked weight classes.
In particular, Lightfoot, who finished fourth in the state tournament last year, had to face returning state champion,Luis Peguero of Robinson in the quarterfinal round. Lightfoot lost a hard-fought 7-1 decision to Peguero, but then won his next four matches to finish third. At 160 pounds, Scherer lost his first match Friday but rebounded to finish fourth.
Pasco had three state placers as heavyweight Andrew Ivie and 138-pound Skyler White finished fourth, and 106-pound Lukas Twadorsky finished sixth.
Other Pasco County state placers were Wiregrass Ranch’s 113-pound Jarred Lanier (fifth), Wesley Chapel’s 126-pound Jon Galvan (third), River Ridge’s 182-pound Max Reynolds (sixth) and Gulf’s 182-pound Jarred Kruse (fifth).