By MATMEN, Sunday, 8:40 p.m.
ORLANDO — The margin between Timber Creek and Buchholz, last year, in the race for second place in the 2022 Weems Wolfpack IBT was just 7.5 points — a couple of extra pins here and there.
This year, the host Wolfpack made sure things didn’t come down to missed opportunities, taking three weight-class wins, adding an equal number of finalists and placing 11 of its wrestlers in the top four of their respective weight classes to take a 54.5-point margin of victory over their region rivals, with 279 points to the Bobcats’ 224.5.
Oviedo was sixth in the 17-team IBT, with 111 points, while Olympia was 8th (82), West Orange 10th (71), Evans 15th (43) and Horizon 17th (28).
Three weight classes featured head-to-head finals matches, one of them matching Timber Creek v Buchholz. In that weight class, 160, the Wolfpack’s Micah Wittenberg (3A-11th) max-pointed into the final, with pins over West Orange and Mt Dora, plus a forfeit win over a teammate, to face off in the final against Buchholz’s Max Szabo (3A-10th at 170), who’d collected three pins along the way. After a scoreless first period, Wittenberg busted out with a takedown and turn in the second, building a 6-0 lead en route to an 8-3 decision.
Timber Creek had picked up its first title at 152, where Andrew Wittenberg (3A-13th) pinned his way into the final with falls over Evans (rd of 16), Buchholz (quarters) and Olympia (semis) to get to Oviedo’s Luke Forsberg, who also had three pins out of the bottom half. The final saw Wittenberg score in each period (takedowns in 1st & 2nd periods, reversal in 3rd), allowing only one escape in a 6-1 win.
West Orange’s Raymond Cavey (3A-14th) kicked off the group of three all-area finals with his win at 126. After pins over Space Coast and Sarasota Military, and a 4-1 win over Evans in the semis, Cavey faced off against Buchholz’s Jedidiah Brown (3A-13th), who reached the final behind pins over Olympia and Sebastian River, plus a 9-1 major over Lake Nona. After a takedown in the second period, Cavey broke a 2-2 tie with his escape at 1:28 left in the match, and made it hold up for a 3-2 win over Brown.
Two additional wrestlers, Buchholz’s Kason Nichols (195) and Timber Creek’s Peter Nesheiwat (285), won titles with wins over out-of-area competitors in the championship round.
Nichols (3A-4th) pinned his way through the 195 field, with preliminary pins over Oviedo (rd of 16), Horizon (quarters) and Timber Creek (semis), all in the second period, before falling Space Coast’s Jaydon Sheely (1A-11th) in 1:13 to claim his gold.
At 285, Nesheiwat (3A-5th) never had to go past the first period, falling three opponents in a combined mat time of 2:57, with preliminary pins over Evans (quarters), Cocoa’s Blake Shaffer (1A-13th) (semis, fall time 52 seconds) and over Freedom’s Zachary Derilus in 47 seconds in the final.
In addition to the three wrestlers taking second in all-coverage area finals, five additional area competitors reached the final, only to fall short.
At 120, the Wolfpack’s Keegan Clark reached the final behind a first-period pin and 12-0 major, but then lost by third-period TF (17-2 in 4:58) to Freedom’s Jesten Conty (3A-14th), while teammate Ozy Aquino bonus-pointed through three rounds at 132 before taking a 9-1 loss to East River’s Michael Dupuy (2A-16th) in the final. Finally, TCHS’ Jayden Smith got to the 220 final after being unseeded, with two pins and a 14-5 major in the semis before losing by fall (5:07) to Mt Dora’s Russell Fickett (1A-16th).
The Bobcats’ Cavarius Liddie (138) and Lions’ Clayton Mitchell (145) also reached finals in their weight classes. Liddie (2nd at 132) pinned his way through the bottom half of the 138 bracket, and battled Freedom’s Eric Aja (3A-4th at 145) to a 1-1 standstill through six minutes, but then gave a takedown in sudden victory. Mitchell (3A-15th) had two pins and a 16-5 major to reach the 145 final, but then lost by fall (2:28) to once-beaten DJ Richards (1A-4th) of Mt Dora.
Complete results for the tournament can be found HERE. All rankings from https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings