KISSIMMEE — As expected, wrestling powerhouse Brandon won the Class 3A, Region 2 team title, scoring 294 points Saturday, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.
Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top-10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.
"This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers for next week's state meet in Lakeland and crowned six individual champions Saturday.
Capping the meet was a heavyweight rematch between Brandon's Darren Lester and Plant City's Lance Dounges. Lester pulled an upset last week at district after being down 5-1. In the region final at 285 pounds, Lester got the third-period pin again.
"This time, when he threw me into a lateral, I knew how to counter it," Lester said.
The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.
Brandon senior Kyle Norstrem scored major decisions against each of his region opponents, including a 17-2 final against junior Tucker Hardwick of Palm Harbor U.
"This sport is all about controlling your opponent," he said. "When an opponent gets that look in their eyes, like they don't want to be on the mat anymore, you know you've got him."
A-3: Robinson tops Gulf
TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the A-3 meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.
Robinson's Kionte Crocker (138 pounds) and Luis Pegero (170) won their weight class finals, though coach Tommy Montero was hoping for more.
"Those young guys now have the confidence to perform at a high level having come here to wrestle," Montero said. "Their future is exciting, and it shows them how difficult it is to wrestle on a day like today. You have to be tough both mentally and physically."
Heavyweight champion Noah Huntley of Admiral Farragut battled through exhaustion in his final. Tied 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the final round, the sophomore scored a thrilling pin over senior Michael Quintero of Bradenton Southeast.
"I just kept thinking that I didn't put in all this work and training to lose that match," Huntley said. "When he tried to throw me I just rolled his head and arm the way my coaches taught me."
Gulf's lone champion was Spencer Baxter (160), but the Bucs will send five to state.
"We could have eight go and I would have been upset it wasn't 10," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "There is room for improvement, but we have a good chance of coming home with some winners at state so I'm happy."
Tampa Bay area schools rounded out much of the top 10. Wesley Chapel and Indian Rocks Christian finished fifth and sixth, respectively, each with four heading to state. Wesley Chapel had region champs in Tony Ruggio (120) and Jon Galvin (126).
Tampa Bay Christian (eighth) boasts two champions (Cullen Telfer, 106 and Anthony Artalona, 113). Host Berkeley Prep (ninth) will send two to state, including 152-pound champ Eric Massey.
2A-3: Jesuit crowned two region champions and qualified four for state in finishing second to Fort Myers Riverdale (142.5 to 127.5) at the meet hosted by Charlotte.
Adam Lewis (126 pounds) and Max Gallagly (170) scored championship finals victories while Anthony Zucco (106 pounds) settled for second. Austin Underwood (220) claimed third.
Armwood's Donoven Hough (113) scored a 14-4 major decision to win his class. King's Jacob Wasserman and Joseph Affronti III will go to Lakeland as well.
Times correspondent David Rice contributed to this report.