The depth at Green Cove Springs Clay for the Class A, Region 2 meet was obvious from the get-go as the host and Orlando Lake Highland Prep distanced themselves.
Lake Highland (207 points) won by 20 over Clay (187), but Pasco continued a strong postseason with a third-place finish.
The Pirates have just seven state champions in school history, including J.P. Gamez in 2012. But the three moving on from region this season have a legitimate opportunity to add to the total.
Skyler White (138 pounds) headlines the group after placing second in Class A last season. Saturday, he lost 4-2 in the final to Lake Highland’s Anthony Petrone, the defending state champion at 132.
Lukas Twardosky (106) sustained his only loss in the semifinals before rebounding in the third-place match to improve to 37-5. Andrew Ivie (285) had no such hiccups. He pinned all four of his opponents in a combined 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
Nature Coast, which lost three who placed at last season’s 2A state meet (including champion Brandon Vovan), also qualified three: Mark Espinosa (126), Le’Shaun Gray (170) and Anthony Contegiacomo (220).
Contegiacomo lost in the final to Hernando’s Jesse Gaudin. But at 51-12, the sophomore is one win from the school record. Gaudin, who placed third at state last season, hopes to become the Sharks’ first champ since Daniel Pritz in 2010. Brennan Ertl (160), a finalist this weekend as well, also qualified.
Dante Padilla, previously the only state qualifier ever for Weeki Wachee, will return after losing 11-5 to Lake Highland’s Bryce Rogers in the 120 final. But he will have company. Jesus Nieves (132), who transferred from Central after last season, placed fourth. And heavyweight Anthony Vines lost in the final to Ivie.
Central’s Brandon Brown won the 182 title by upsetting Gulf’s Jarred Kruse with a 13-5 major decision in the final.
Wesley Chapel’s Jon Galvan suffered only his second loss of the season in the 126 final, 8-7 to Crystal River’s Michael Allen. Teammate Nathan Love finished third at 182.
Kruse and Robert Napolitano (145) will represent Gulf while Anclote also will boast two in Brandon McQuinn (113) and Jonte Scott (152). McQuinn’s loss came in the final to Lake Highland’s Jake Brindley, the defending state champion.
Hudson’s Drake Carson (195) took a difficult road to advance. After an opening-round loss, he pinned four straight opponents.
2A-3: Fivay got three to state while finishing 10th at Punta Gorda Charlotte. Cole Manion took fourth at 120, Andrew Scherer second at 160 and Nicco Lightfoot second at 182. Lightfoot lost in the final to Max Reynolds, River Ridge’s only qualifier.