KISSIMMEE - Lake Highland Prep made it very clear that their intention at the Wrestling State Duals Championship tournament held Saturday at Osceola High School was to dominate, shut out all …
KISSIMMEE - Lake Highland Prep made it very clear that their intention at the Wrestling State Duals Championship tournament held Saturday at Osceola High School was to dominate, shut out all opponents and make a statement about being the best wrestling high school in the state; all classes.
Lake Highland senior Erich Byelick, a state champion last year at 170 pounds, in a statement to an Orlando Sentinel sportswriter said, “We wanted to be the first team champion ever, but we also wanted to be the first and only one to ever win the championship with a shutout.”
That being said, and also Lake Highland Prep’s 72-0 win over Cardinal Gibbons High in that Class 1A championship match, put a little perspective in the Saturday morning semifinal match between Clay and Lake Highland.
Clay, though eventually losing that semifinal 64-6, would get an overtime win from Daniel Porter at 113 pounds and, at 138, a 6-4 win from Peyton Hughes over Lake Highland 126 pound defending state champion Noah Castillo.
According to Clay coach Jim Reape, his Blue Devils had their chances to create more scoring opportunities and the upcoming traditional state meet is the next target. Clay has finished second to Lake Highland Prep the past three years in Class 1A.
“We won those two matches, but more important, we were in the matches at 160, 182 and even at 285,” said Reape. “We had our opportunities. It’s all little technical stuff; tactics, that we have to work on. Back to the drawing board.”
In the match opener, Clay’s Josh McGinnis got pinned quickly by Lake Highland’s Jake Wohltman to set off the mental game for the match, but Porter, at 113, facing off against freshman William Kennedy, quickly showed off some grit that would take him to four rounds of overtime and a 10-9 win to put points on the board for Clay.
“I ran alot to get to this weight and that may have taken some energy,” said Porter, a transfer from University Christian where he was a 1A state qualifier who faced eventual champion Ryan Chauvin, of Lake Highland, in his first round match. “I’ve never wrestled a Lake Highland Prep guy until post season last year and it was Ryan Chauvin, who teched me. I was a little nervous.”
Porter scored first in the opening period and continued to build to a 5-2 lead into the third period with a reversal and escape. In the third stanza, Kennedy attacked more intently and the two traded points off takedowns and reversals with Kennedy getting a 6-5 lead, Porter reversing to a 7-6 lead that was almost extended with a late Easton tilt from Porter not scoring as time ran out.
In the first overtime period, neither wrestler scored with Porter snatching a late ankle pick that ended up out of bounds for no points.
In the second overtime, with Porter in the down referee position, Porter got a two-point reversal to push the score to 9-7 with Kennedy choosing a neutral start in the next overtime period. Here, Kennedy scored two points off a near-fall for two points to tie the contest again and forced the fourth overtime; a first-score period.
In the fourth overtime, both wrestlers were cautious until the final 10 seconds where Kennedy got a ankle on Porter, but Porter was able to flee away to avoid the two-point takedown and in the escape attempt, Kennedy was called for locking his hands giving Porter the winning point; 10-9 final.
“I could probably improve my late stamina a bit,” said Porter. “I was a little tired at the end, but so was he.”
Hughes, third at 126 last year, has missed some mat time early in the season with a hand injury, but has come on strong with an unbeaten record, 18-0, coming into the Duals State meet.
“Daniel’s win was a big boost for the team,” said Hughes.
Against Castillo, Hughes fell behind in the first period with Castillo scoring on a quick arm drag to the mat with Hughes escaping near the end of the period to leave a 2-1 edge to Castillo.
“I was taking the tape off my finger when he came after me,” said Hughes. “That was his only takedown. We’ve wrestled before and we both have won a match against the other.”
In the second period, Hughes scored off strong forward move with just 40 seconds left in the period to snare a 3-2 lead.
“He has a strong sweep single, but, luckily, that’s where I have good defense,” said Hughes. “He did that in the second period, but he posted with a far leg and I was able to push forward to score the points.”
Castillo would elect to cut Hughes from his down referee position and take his chances on a takedown, but Hughes surprised Castillo with a single leg takedown that put the score at 6-2.
“He doesn’t bring his leg back too fast and I have a good low single,” said Hughes. “Because I’m tall, I can reach in on that.”
From the tie up, Castillo escaped for a 6-3 score before Hughes held out for the final 6-4 after a stall point was awarded to Castillo.
“I felt like I was still in control; just wrestling my match,” said Hughes. “We weren’t supposed to win any matches, but that motivated us when we heard all that. We will see them again in a week at the Flagler Rotary.”
One surprising match was, at 120, where Clay’s unbeaten Steven Chopek (27-0) got pinned by Lake Highland’s Nic Bouzakis with just 13 seconds left in the first period. Cale Hoskinson, at 126, faced off against defending 113 champion Ryan Chauvin and lost by pin in the third period.
At 182, Abbott Taylor lost a tough 4-0 match to Lake Highland’s Max Cosmides after Carson Yost, at 170, lost by pin to Byelick. Lake Highland finished off the match with three pins.
Clay advanced the semifinal with a 49-15 win over Wakulla in the quarterfinal. The Blue Devils defeated Bishop Kenny in their regional qualifier a week ago.