KISSIMMEE — Eleven area 3A wrestlers entered the final day of the high school wrestling season wanting to win a state title or, at the very least, their final match of the year or, in some cases, the final match of their high school careers.
Because wrestling is so very unforgiving as a sport, just two of those 11 wrestlers, Sandalwood senior Dante Rigal and Flagler Palm Coast junior Bryce Dodge, were able to do that — and not without some disappointment of their own along the way — in a day and weekend that, while it brought eight medals to the coverage area, generally found north Florida looking upward at a lot of central and south Florida wrestlers at the top of the podium.
Rigal was the only wrestler area-wide in 3A to place third, competing at 126, with fourths going to Bartram Trail’s Ethan Vugman (106), Fleming Island’s Hunter Herrington (113) and Hunter Williams (195), Flagler Palm Coast’s Blane DeFord (160) and Mandarin’s Tony Carter (182).
FPC and Mandarin joined the Golden Eagles as the only teams with two medalists, as Dodge was fifth and the Mustangs’ Jameel Smith (132) was sixth.
Team-wise, the Golden Eagles’ two medals kept them in the top 10, as Fleming Island scored 49.5 points. Flagler Palm Coast was T-15th with 30, with Mandarin and Sandalwood each at T-24th with 20.
Bartram Trail was tied for 29th, with 15 points, with Creekside 42nd (9.5), Buchholz T-46th (six) and Oakleaf 51st with 2.
Photographs from the quarters, semis and third-place matches can be accessed using the Matmen Instagram account, nflamatmen. Brackets from the weekend can be found HERE.
Below follows a summary of the tournament:
Championship: After a runnerup showing in 2020, Columbus junior Christian Guzman (43-2) ran the table with four bonus-point wins, including an 11-1 Saturday morning semifinal major over sophomore Vugman (43-6), and took the title with a fall over Osceola freshman Anderson Heap (35-3). Heap had three bonus-point wins of his own, including a 13-0 semifinal win over Wellington sophomore Patrick Jones (21-1), giving Jones his only loss of the year.
3rd: Jones had two wins on the back to take third, including a 6-5 win over Vugman in the medal match. Vugman had gotten to a shot at third with an 11-2 consi-semi major over Region 1 rival Trenton Dominguez, a junior at Timber Creek, repeating his region-title win at states.
5th: Venice sophomore Blane Taranto (38-6), who’d lost to Vugman by an 8-6 count in the quarterfinal round, had three consi-side wins, including two on Saturday, where he pinned Dominguez (42-10) in 3:44.
Championship: South Dade junior Adrian Morales (53-9) pinned his way into the final, with a Saturday semifinal fall over Region 4 rival and Coral Reef senior Anthony Madriz (4:30), then came back to shut out Manatee senior Angelo De Dona (50-4), 6-0, in a reprise of the third-place match at 106 last year, also won by Morales. De Dona opened Saturday with a fall over the Golden Eagles’ Herrington (27-5), a senior wrestling with an injured left arm that significantly limited his effectiveness, in 3:13.
3rd: After falling to De Dona, 4-2, in the quarters, Southwest Miami junior Kevin Placer (41-9) had four wins on the back side of the bracket, including a 12-2 major over Madriz in the consi semis and a 4-1 win over Herrington for third. Herrington pushed into the third-place match with a second-period fall over Newsome senior Brayden Johnson (30-7) in 2:41, reprising his opening-round win over Johnson on Friday.
5th: Madriz won by injury default over Johnson.
Championship: Osceola sophomore Cooper Haase (42-1) repeated as champion after winning at 106 last year, with three pins sandwiching a 7-6 semifinal win over a fellow 2020 champ, Southwest Miami sophomore Danny Martinez (14-1). Haase then falled Venice senior Bryce Taranto (24-5), his Region 2 quarterfinals opponent the previous weekend, in 3:26 to win state. Taranto had three six-minute wins to get to the final, including a 3-0 win over 2019 state champ and Region 2 rival in Manatee senior Noah Wadle (31-6), in the semis.
3rd: Martinez bounced back to third behind two wins in the consis, with a 9-1 major over East Lake senior Kobe Litov (37-5) in the semis and a 4-1 win over Wadle for third, reprising his 2020 finals win with that victory. Wadle came back for a shot at third with a 12-1 major over Miami Palmetto senior Corey Gallivan in the consi semis.
5th: Litov, who’d lost by fall to Martinez in round 1 as well as the consi semis, only to punch his podium ticket with three wins in the consis, took a 14-9 win over Gallivan, who also had to win three times on the back after an opening-round 12-0 loss to Taranto.
No locals in Saturday’s competition.
Championship: Palm Harbor University senior Dylan Sparkman (39-1) took the next step up the podium after finishing second last year, with four six-minute decisions, including Saturday wins in the semis over Rigal, 3-0, and again in the final with a 5-1 win over Southwest Miami senior Robert Dusendang (40-4). Dusendang had a tech and two decisions to reach the final, including a 12-6 win in the semis over Riverview sophomore Nicholas Romero (30-10).
3rd: Rigal (18-1) dominated both of his matches in the consis to get back to third, with a lead in the semis over Palm Beach Gardens senior Elijah Ortiz (16-5) before Ortiz was forced to injury-default. Rigal then shut out Miami Beach sophomore Aaron Lanster (26-4) by a 6-0 count to claim third. Lanster had fallen to Sparkman in the Friday quarters, with three wins on the back to get to Rigal.
5th: Romero won by medical forfeit over Ortiz.
Championship: Southwest Miami senior Sebastian Melguizo (43-2) also was a repeat champion, with Saturday wins in the semis over Riverview junior Nikolas Hernandez (30-7), 8-1, and then again in the final over Ft Pierce Central junior Russell Raabe, 5-1. Raabe (26-2) had two Friday bonus-point wins, edging 2020 finalist and Timber Creek senior Jayden Tapia, 6-5, in the semis.
3rd: Tapia (45-7), the Region 1 champ, came back in the consis for third with a 3-1 sudden-victory win over Mandarin junior Jameel Smith (25-5) in the semis. Tapia then had an easier time against South Dade freshman Gavin Balmeceda (46-15) in the medal match, going on for an 11-1 major. Balmeceda had three bonus-point wins on the back after an 8-3 loss to Tapia in Friday’s quarters.
5th: Hernandez claimed the fifth-place medal with a 7-4 win over Smith, who had to secure his podium space with a win in state’s version of the blood round, the consi quarters, where he took down multiple-time state qualifier Gavin Buck of Columbus by an 8-4 count to ensure a medal.
Championship: Osceola senior Jaekus Hines (42-1) closed out his high school career essentially at home on Saturday, repeating as champion with four bonus-point weekend wins, including a 16-0 tech fall (2:31) in the semis over Braddock senior Frank Lopez (24-5) and an 18-5 major in the championship over South Dade junior Alex Couto (50-6). Couto, a 2020 champion at 120, got to the final behind two Friday pins and a 3-0 win in the semis over Hagerty sophomore Kamdon Harrison (45-7).
3rd: Harrison (45-7) came back for third with two bonus-point wins, including a fall over Southwest Miami junior Favian Oliva (35-17) in 1:59 in the consi semis and an 11-2 major over Riverdale sophomore Alex Soto (35-6) for third. Soto had lost by pin to Harrison in Friday’s quarters, with three wins in the consis for a rematch.
5th: In a rematch of the Region 4 semis, Lopez again won over Oliva, this time with an 8-1 decision after pinning Oliva the previous weekend.
No locals in Saturday’s competition.
Championship: After missing the 2020 post-season run, Winter Park junior Joe Gonzalez, the Region 1 champ, smashed through 2020-21 unbeaten, with a pin and decision on both days of the weekend. On Saturday, he opened with a fall over 2020 finalist and South Dade senior Adrian Neco (3:18) in the semis, then came back to hold off Riverdale senior Jared Dinh (24-2), 5-2, for the title. Dinh, a 2020 champion, pinned or teched his way to the final, falling Freedom senior Brennon Reid in 2:28 in the semis.
3rd: Reid (30-5) came back for third behind a 9-6 consi-semi win over North Port senior Quinn White (44-8), then majored Neco, 10-1, for third.
5th: Oviedo senior Marcus Patrick (9-4 as reported), who’d lost to Dinh in the quarters, won three times in the consis by fall, including a pin in 2:10 over White in the medal match. White won twice in the consis to secure a medal after a 6-0 quarterfinal loss to Gonzalez.
No locals in Saturday’s competition.
Championship: In a rematch of the Region 2 semis, Osceola freshman Gunner Holland (29-5) was able to turn the tables on the previous weekend’s 6-2 loss, taking four state-weekend decisions and avenging that loss in the championship with a 3-2 win in double overtime over Palm Harbor University senior Alek Chitty (34-3), competing in 3A state for the first time. Holland also had a 7-6 Saturday win in the semis over Ft Pierce Central sophomore JT Apicella (15-3). Chitty also won three times by decision to reach the final, with a double-overtime win of his own in the semis and South Dade sophomore Cordell White (38-5), 3-1.
3rd: White duplicated his first-year third-place finish with two consi-side wins, taking down Region 1 champ and Lake Mary senior Alex Vazquez, 7-4, in the consi semis, then falling Apicella in 4:07 in the bronze-medal match. Apicella got to that match behind a 6-1 win over Region 3 rival and Treasure Coast junior Lucas Moreno, reprising his region-final win over Moreno.
5th: Vazquez (11-2), who fell by a 3-2 count to Holland in the quarters, won three times in the consis to take fifth, with a 3-1 win over Moreno in the medal round. Moreno (23-10) also had two consi-side wins to earn a podium space.
No locals in Saturday’s competition.
Championship: Riverdale junior Dominic Rodriguez (38-1) had two bonus-point wins on Friday and two decisions Saturday, with a 7-6 win in the semis to hand Lake Mary senior Jared Purcell his only loss of the year, then pushed past Palm Harbor University senior Michael Cuttitta (38-3) in a reprise of the Region 2 final, taking a 7-4 win after a 6-4 win the previous weekend. Cuttitta had a fall and two tight decisions, including shutting out DeFord (12-3), 2-0, in the semis.
3rd: Purcell (11-1), the Region 1 champ, came back for third behind a 14-3 major in the consi semis over Palm Beach Gardens senior William George (24-3), then shut out DeFord, 7-0, in the third-place match. DeFord put himself in competition for third with a 7-4 consi-semi win over Ft Pierce Central junior Riley Orr.
5th: George, who won three consi-side matches after falling to DeFord in the quarters, won his Region 3 finals rematch in the state medal round, taking a 4-2 win over Orr.
Championship: South Dade senior Joshua Swan (53-3) closed out his high school career as a repeat champion, with a tech fall and three decisions, including Saturday wins over Region 2 opponents in Manatee sophomore Nicolas Giompalo (29-9), 12-6, in the semis, then again in the final, where he decisioned North Port sophomore Dominic Joyce (47-3), 7-5, for the title. Joyce pinned his way into the final, including a semifinal fall over Ft Pierce Central senior Kevin Finn (28-5) in 5:40.
3rd: Giompalo took two consi-side wins to rally back for third, falling Dodge in 3:20 in the consi semis, then taking a 7-4 win over Coon in the match for third place.
5th: Dodge (21-9), a junior for the Bulldogs, punched his way onto the podium with a consi-quarter pin over Columbus’ Guy Toussaint in 2:47. He won his fifth-place match with an injury-default win over Lakewood Ranch junior Ranson Coons (42-9).
Additional local note: Creekside senior Hunter Brown, who’d won his 100th match behind two wins in the tournament, lost by fall in the consi quarters to Coons (3:38).
Championship: Manatee senior Tylynn Lukens (54-1), the Russ Mauger Award recipient as announced prior to the beginning of the finals, added a repeat title performance, opening Saturday with a third-period pin over Mandarin junior Tony Carter (21-5) in 5:16, then came back to find a takedown in sudden victory and take the title with a 5-3 win over Hagerty senior Ethan Lopez (18-2). Lopez pinned or teched his way into the final, with a tech fall (18-2 in 5:06) in the semis over Palm Harbor University senior Maxamus Kyser (15-4).
3rd: Kyser came back for third behind an 8-2 consi-semi win over East Lake senior Maks Dimarov (35-4), then pinned Carter in 2:51 for third. Carter, who became the Mustangs’ first state placer since 2006 behind qualifying for the semis on Friday, advanced to the third-place match with an 11-5 win over Boone’s Jackson Brockett, the Region 3 champ, in the consi semis.
5th: Dimarov, who’d lost in the round of 16 on Friday, had to reel off three straight consi-side wins to secure a podium place, won by injury default over Brockett. The third of those three wins came in the consi quarters, where he falled Creekside senior Bryan Fortay (24-7) in 4:08.
Championship: After falling to then-future teammate Swan in last year’s 152 final, South Dade freshman Sawyer Bartelt (35-0) bonus-pointed his way into the final, with an 11-3 major in the semis over Ft Pierce Central senior Steven Krantz (24-4), followed by a 3-0 shutout in the championship match over Osceola senior Nolin Eaddy (21-2). Eaddy also bonus-pointed to the final, with a 9-1 major over Fleming Island junior Hunter Williams (30-5).
3rd: Krantz, the Region 3 champ, bounced back in the consis behind a pair of decisions, turning back region rival and Vero Beach sophomore Keyshawn Campbell, 2-0, in the consi semis, and then decisioning Williams, 9-3, in the bronze match. Williams got back for a shot at third by teching region rival and Colonial senior Seth Suvak (27-6) in the third period (18-2 in 4:13).
5th: Campbell, who’d lost to Williams by a 9-4 count in the quarters, won three of his four matches in the consis, pinning Suvak in 2:33 in the medal match. Suvak had lost to Eaddy in the opening round and had to win three matches just to get on the podium.
Championship: Ft Pierce Central junior Gabriel Jacas (26-4) needed to go a full six minutes in all of his matches leading up to the final, but didn’t have to quite go that long in the title match, falling Hagerty senior Bertilus Bornelus (33-4) in 3:12 for the championship. Bornelus, the Region 1 champ, had three decision victories prior to the final, including a 3-2 win over North Miami senior Edensky Phele (12-5) in the semis.
3rd: After falling 3-1 to Bornelus in the quarters, Jupiter senior Aiden Alexander (13-3) powered through four wins on the bounce in the consis, including three Saturday wins over Riverdale’s Shayne Parris (6-3), Coral Reef senior Christian Llauger (3-2) in the consi semis, and a 2-1 double-overtime win over Apopka junior Ralph Sanchez (33-7), who won three matches on the back after an 8-4 quarterfinal loss to Jacas.
5th: In a rematch of the Region 4 final, Llauger (16-2) duplicated his win over Phele, taking a 5-3 win at state to match his 5-2 region-final win.
Championship: After placing fourth at Region 2 the previous weekend, Dr Phillips junior Gerald Greaves (20-3) rolled through the state field, with a pin and three decisions in taking the title. On Saturday, Greaves opened with a 1-0 win over Ft Pierce Central senior Henry Jones (27-3) in the semis, then came back to knock off his third region champ of the weekend in the final, taking a 7-4 win over Southwest Miami junior Adrian Sans (43-9). Sans also had a pin and two decisions prior to final, decisioning Wellington senior Mason Powell (13-6), 8-1, in the semis.
3rd: Jones took all four of his wins by fall during the weekend, with Saturday consi-side pins over Palm Harbor University senior Grant Gelazin (37-3) in 1:14 in the semis, then falling Columbus sophomore Derrick Hart (28-5) in 4:11 for the bronze medal. Hart won three times in the consis, twice on Saturday, with a 5-4 win over Powell in the semi.
5th: Gelazin took two identical 5-3 wins to secure his podium space, following those with a 5-1 win over Powell for the fifth-place medal. One of those 5-3 wins came in the consi quarters on Saturday, where Gelazin downed Fleming Island sophomore Ethan Hoffstetter (25-10).