KISSIMMEE — Something had to give in the 2A-Region 1 dual tournament final between first-time finalists New Smyrna Beach and Pace.
Ultimately, it was the Panhandle-side Patriots that gave way Friday at Osceola HS, as the Barracudas controlled both ends, early and late, of the dual as New Smyrna Beach went on to take a 43-27 victory over Pace.
The ‘Cudas (16-1) built early leads of 8-0 and 12-3, and also closed with a flourish, winning the final four contested matches with maximum points.
“It might not have been a perfect start, but it was a good start. Our kids are a cohesive, tight-knit group,” New Smyrna Beach coach Kevin Kehoe said. “Obviously we’ve still got things to work on, but we’re getting better every day.
“The room has such a good energy.”
The ‘Cudas will need that on Saturday, as they’ll face 2019 dual state champions Lake Gibson in the semis at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to a 1 p.m. finals dual. The Braves took down 2020 state champion Tampa Jesuit, 37-29, in the Region 2 final.
NSBHS got an 8-0 start behind a third-period tech fall from Jace Engberg (16-0 in 5:17), plus Jamey Bruner’s 9-6 win at 126. Pace would get three back on an 11-5 win from Camden Friend at 138, but the ‘Cudas’ Michael Shannon was one turn short of a tech fall, taking a 13-0 major at 145.
The Patriots (6-1) made a charge from 152-182, taking three pins out of those four matches, with Seth O’Gara (4:45 at 152), Brody Andrews (:53 at 170) and Aiden Bryan (1:15 at 182) winning by and taking their only lead of the dual, 21-18.
“We’re blessed to be here,” Pace coach Reggie Allen said. “The boys did good; we had a hard drive yesterday getting down here. First time some of them have been to Orlando when it comes to wrestling. Pace has come a long way. Last time we beat Lincoln (to qualify for the Region 1 final) was Wakulla Duals in 2012.”
The lead was short-lived, though, as NSB’s Doug Dittmer (9-3 win at 195) and Austin Mitchum (fall in 1:19 at 220) gave the ‘Cudas a lead that Pace would not see again.
“As wrestled As twice (at 145 and 195, where A-level kids faced off) and the second time, that’s where the mistake was made; I would normally have sent Wyatt (Dillon, who fell to Dittmer at 195) at 220, and that was my mistake,” Allen said.
New Smyrna Beach forfeited to Pace’s Kegan O’Shell at 285, and those would be the Patriots’ final points, as the ‘Cudas bonus-pointed out the dual, with pins from Aidan Sutton (113) and Tristen Winfrey (120), plus a 12-1 major from Simjay Engberg at 106.
Afterward, Jace Engberg, Sutton and Hunter Childress (152) celebrated with backflips in light of the NSB victory.
“We weren’t looking past Pace at all,” Kehoe said of the prospect of facing a Lake Gibson in the state semis. “We’ll let them enjoy this, see how we match up, come out, wrestle our best and compete. That’s what I’m looking forward to (Saturday).”
Palmetto Ridge came from behind to defeat Charlotte, 37-34, for the Region 3 title, while Southridge pushed past Heritage, 42-30, to win in Region 4. Summaries for the other three regions follow:
Region 2: After Jesuit built a 17-0 lead through the first five weights, Lake Gibson broke through with Brendon Abdon’s fall at 160. The Braves then won five weights in a row, from 182 through 106, behind a 27-0 run that included three Jesuit forfeits. In the final match, Alex Walker clinched it for Lake Gibson with a 9-0 shutout major at 120.
Region 3: The Tarpons started fast, with a 10-0 lead that they rebuilt into a 29-16 gap with five weights to go, but Palmetto Ridge answered with three pins from Austin Foye (285), Tyler Washburn (106) and Jean Valoria (120) and a 5-4 win from Antonio Petraglia (220) down the stretch.
Region 4: Like their semifinal opponents did in Region 3, Southridge came back with a late rush to take the victory, with four pins in the final five weights. Dedric Marshall (220), Marcelo Rosario (285), Fredrick Mitchum (106) and Conner Hueck (120) each won by fall down the stretch to pull Southridge into the lead for good.
Box scores for all four duals can be found HERE.