By MATMEN, Monday, 7:50 p.m.
VILLAGES — From a team perspective, at least for local teams in Saturday’s 6th Annual St John Memorial Holiday one-day IBT at Villages, it was about balance more than necessarily highlight.
And the team scores reflected in the 13-team event, with Ocoee fourth (87 points), Seminole fifth (80.5), Belleview seventh (73) and Forest eighth (52), with no area team winning more than one individual title.
That was also true of team champion Vero Beach, which one just one weight class (220) while still having enough depth to hold off runnerup McKeel Academy’s four individual golds, 164-160.5, to win the team chase.
St Johns Country Day was 12th, with 21 points, while South Lake 13th, with 19. Both the Spartans and Eagles had one medal each.
Going out on top: In his final appearance at the St John event, Belleview senior Zack McLaughlin made it count in the form of one of the area’s three titles, as his win stood out in a group of five medalists.
McLaughlin, the top seed at 145, was pushed for that title, bookending a semifinal pin over Vero Beach with a pair of 6-4 wins in the quarters over McKeel and again in the final over Seminole’s Andres Sanchez.
The Diamondbacks had a chance for a second weight-class win after top seed Caleb Mullinix (2A-11th) pinned his way into the final at 113, but there lost by fall to St Johns Country Day phenom Matthew Braddock. Braddock had reached the final with a 13-4 major over Forest in the semi.
The hidden (Forest) MVP?: Junior Brent Ryals (126) isn’t the Wildcats’ most well-known wrestler, like two of his ranked teammates.
But Ryals was Forest’s lone wrestler to bag a title, coming out of the 4-seed position to collect falls over Villages (quarters), Ocoee (semis) and over Vero Beach’s Jon Smith in the final.
Ryals’ title led Forest to a three-medal day; he was the Wildcats’ lone finalist.
Balance at the bookends: For Ocoee, the Knights were led by runnerup efforts at the low and high ends of the lineup, as Nazzio Huyler (106) and Deandre Scott (285) both reached the final in their respective weight classes. In all, Ocoee would go home with six medals.
Huyler, the 106 bracket’s 4 seed, took two pins to reach the final, with falls over Villages and McKeel along the way, before falling to the 3rd seed from Leto in the title round.
Scott was the 2 seed at 285 and defended that seed with pins over South Lake and Villages, but another Leto wrestler with upsets on his mind had designs on the gold medal; after pinning the top seed in the semis, Leto would get the better of Scott as well.
Trio of runners-up for Noles: Seminole bagged runnerup finishes at 138 and 170 to go along with Sanchez’s 2nd-place effort at 145, in which he had a TF (17-1) and pin to get to McLaughlin.
At the 4 seed at 138, Onel Esquilin had a pin and 10-9 win over the top seed from Villages before falling by an 11-4 count to McKeel in the title match, while DeShawn Bristow-Harris took a pin and survived a wild 19-13 win over Ocoee before losing by fall to McKeel’s Owen McNabb (3rd in 1A-170) in the final.
Rankings are per https://kabrawrestling.com/rankings
Results from Saturday’s tournament can be found in PDF form HERE.