LAKELAND — Four area teams journeyed to Lakeland for the weekend’s Braves Invitational, hosted by Lake Gibson.
Tops of the three was Gulf Breeze, which finiahed seventh in the 29-team team event with 110 points, 23.5 back of sixth-place North Port.
Top five teams in the two-day IBT were Lake Highland Prep (313.5), host Lake Gibson (250.5), Palmetto Ridge (232.5), Charlotte (226) and Jensen Beach (182); with the three FHSAA dual state champions plus LHP in the mix, it served as a de facto Who’s #1 in Florida-style event.
Lincoln, with 70 points, was ninth in the tournament, while St Augustine 17th (43) and Columbia 19th (37.5).
Below follows a summary of coverage-area top-six placewinners at each weight class, where applicable:
106 — Lake Highland’s Liam Davis (St Johns resident) was third and a semifinalist, with three bonus-point wins on the front, including pins over Bishop Verot (:53, rd of 32), Venice (1:12, rd of 16) and Lake Gibson (10-2, quarters) before falling to Doral Academy, 9-7, in the semis. Davis then pinned an LHP teammate, then edged Charlotte, 3-2, for third.
113 — No area wrestlers in top six; Lincoln’s Vaniel Caceres was 7th.
132 (no placers at 120 & 126) — Gulf Breeze’s Colson Elliott was fifth and a semifinalist, with three front-side wins, including Friday wins over Tenoroc (:15, rd of 32), St Augustine’s Wilson Nguyen (5-3, rd of 16) and Zephyrhills Christian (10-4, quarters) before losing by tech fall in the semis to the eventual champion from Lake Gibson (19-4). After a 6-4 loss to Palmetto Ridge in the consi semis, Elliott won by forfeit over Jensen Beach for fifth. Nguyen wound up finishing 7th.
138 — No area wrestlers in top six; Gulf Breeze’s Logan Merritt was 8th.
145 — Gulf Breeze’s Garret Rudick was sixth and a quarterfinalist, with a bye into the round of 16 and pin over Lake Gibson (2:57) in that round before losing by fall (2:46) in the quarters to the eventual 4th. Rudick won twice in the consis to make podium, with a 3-2 loss in the fifth-place match to the same Lake Gibson wrestler.
170 (no placers at 152 & 160) — Columbia’s Joseph Rice was a semifinalist and placed third. After a bye into the round of 16, Rice had a TF (15-0 in 4:50) there over Lakeland, with a quarterfinal pin (3:18) over Jensen Beach in the quarters before falling to Lake Gibson, 6-1, in the semis. Rice then pinned North Port (2:52) in the consi semis and took a 9-4 decision over Palmetto Ridge for third.
182 — Gulf Breeze’s Blake Fluck placed fourth and was a quarterfinalist, with a bye into the round of 16, where he pinned Springstead (:45). After a loss to North Port in the quarters (3:44), Fluck had three consi-side wins (2 pins & decision, that a 5-1 win over Jensen Beach in the consi semis) before taking a second loss by fall to North Port (3:38) in the third-place match. Columbia’s Jayden Drew was 8th.
195 — Lincoln’s Cayden Bevis was the only Region 1 wrestler to win a title in this high-powered event. After a bye into the round of 16, Bevis teched North Port (26-11 in 2:15) in that round, with a second-period pin (2:55) over Countryside in the quarters. On Saturday, Bevis shut out Lake Highland Prep, 6-0, in the semis, and picked up another bonus-point win in the final over Charlotte’s Cade Newton, with a 16-6 major. In that match, Bevis racked up four first-period takedowns, with a reversal late in the second, another one early in the third, followed by two more takedowns for the major.
220 — Lincoln’s Omarion LaRoach was fourth and a semifinalist. After a bye into the round of 16, LaRoach majored Lake Gibson (13-1) in that round, falling North Port (3:32) in the quarters, but fell to the eventual champion from Charlotte, 7-3, in the semis. LaRoach had a third bonus-point win, 13-0, in the consi semis over Jensen Beach, but then lost by fall (4:23) to Pasco in the third-place match. St Augustine’s Nate Bumbalough was eighth.
285 — Gulf Breeze’s Phillip Dillard was fifth and a quarterfinalist. After a bye into the round of 16, Dillard pinned Port Charlotte (2:22), losing by fall to the eventual champion from Kathleen (1:27) in the quarters. Dillard then took two consi-side decisions to make podium, with a consi-semi loss by fall to Charlotte and a medical forfeit win for fifth over Weeki Wachee. St Augustine’s Jaquan Whitty was 7th.
Complete brackets from the tournament can be found HERE.