By MATMEN, Monday, 11:10 p.m.
INVERNESS — Sometimes the matches are best wrestled on the mat and not necessarily left to the previews.
After two losses in successive weeks to district rival Hagerty, and with the presence of a very strong Brandon squad in place ready to defend its Ed Kilpatrick Classic team title, Timber Creek might have gone back to Orlando OK with an “in the mix” team finish on Saturday.
But the Wolfpack had other ideas, winning two titles and moving five wrestlers into the finals; that, plus balance down the lineup was enough for Timber Creek to storm past the Eagles and Huskies and win the 17th annual version of Citrus’ mid-January one-day IBT.
Timber Creek outpointed Brandon, 234-227.5, for first place, with Hagerty just three points back in third. Ocoee was T-7th, with 102 points, while Apopka was 10th (89) and South Lake T-14th (51) in the 17-team field.
Timber Creek’s individual titles went to Andrew Wittenberg (14th-3A at 152) and Peter Nesheiwat (5th-3A at 285).
Wittenberg bonus-pointed through the tournament, recording 59 points in four matches. After an 18-5 major over Brandon and pin over Lecanto, Wittenberg racked up back-to-back techs, first by an 18-2 third-period TF (5:18) over McKeel’s Bradley Torres (10th-1A) in the semis, then teching South Lake’s Jaydius Bognar, 18-3 in 5:37, in the final.
As for Nesheiwat, after a bye into the quarters, he needed just 64 seconds to reach the final, with pins over First Academy (:20) in the quarters and over Villages’ Randall Wise (17th-1A; fall time :44) in the semis, setting up a finals date with region rival Deandre Scott (6th-3A) of Ocoee in the title round. Nesheiwat had takedowns in the first and second period and was able to get out from bottom twice in the third, holding off Scott’s late takedown for a 6-4 win.
Hagerty, also, had two champs in Nikolas Blake (3rd-3A at 132) and Hunter Tate (9th-3A at 195).
Blake pinned his way through the tournament after a bye into the quarters, needing only 40 seconds of mat time prior to the final, with falls over Apopka and Mt Dora, but had to go into the second period before falling Brandon’s Ryan Kinsey (14th-2A) in 2:10. Blake had a 3-point turn in the first period, making the second turn count for the pin in the second.
Tate also pinned his way into the final, with first-period falls over Timber Creek and Villages’ Nicholas Caudill (20th-1A, pin time 1:56), but had to go a full six before securing a third bonus-point win, 13-2 over Crystal River’s Joel Velazquez (16th-1A), in which he racked up three turns for nine nearfall points in the first two periods.
The only other area champion was Apopka’s Tamarion Kendrick (5th-3A at 138). After a bye into the quarters, Kendrick pinned his way into the final, with falls over Crystal River and over Lakeland to get to region rival Josue Batista of Timber Creek. There, Kendrick put on quite a scoring clinic, racking up a 23-10 major for the title.
In addition to Batista, Timber Creek had two additional finalists in Marlo Clark (12th-3A) at 113 and Keegan Clark at 120. Marlo Clark lost by third-period fall to third-ranked (2A) Roberto Rodriguez of Brandon, while Keegan Clark fell to the Eagles’ Luke Williams (7th-2A), 15-5.
Hagerty had two additional finalists in Kamdon Harrison (3rd-3A) at 160 and Connor Gilliam (18th-3A at 182, competing at 170). After three pins in 2:07 of mat time, Harrison fell by a 6-2 count to Brandon’s Ty Rodriguez (10th-2A), with Gilliam taking three wins before an 11-2 loss in the title match to McKeel’s Owen McNabb (3rd-1A).
Bognar was South Lake’s lone finalist, while Scott was joined by Keniel Carrasquillo (220) as runnerups. Carrasquillo had a 10-0 major over Hagerty’s Landon Revis (11th-3A) in the quarters and semifinal pin over Mt Dora before a loss by fall (3:26) to Crystal River’s Tim Gray (4th-1A).