Highlanders crush the competition
KISSIMMEE — Lake Highland Prep didn’t want to just win the first-ever FHSAA dual match state wrestling championship. The Highlanders wanted to do so in the most dominant fashion possible. Mission accomplished. Lake Highland blanked Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 72-0 in Saturday’s Class 1A state final dual to become the first team champion in the inaugural state series.
“We wanted to be the first team champion ever,” senior Erich Byelick said. “But we also wanted to be the first and only one to ever win the championship match with a shutout.”
To win by a shutout in wrestling is rare. It takes 14 wrestlers to avoid making mistakes and win their match — every match.
The Highlanders had hoped for three shutouts this weekend, but they didn’t put it all together until the final.
“It’s special to see everybody wrestle well. It’s hard for everyone to get a win,” senior Ryan Chauvin said.
Lake Highland wasted no time staking its claim to the title, winning the first four matches by pin to take a 24-0 lead.
Jake Wohltman opened it up with a fall just 20 seconds into his opening match at 106 pounds. William Kennedy (113) and Chauvin (120) both scored first-period falls and eighth-grader Nic Bouzakis won via pin at 126.
Vincent Menozzi kept the winning streak going with a 4-2 decision at 132 before Noah Castillo started the pin train back up at 138. Senior standout Joey Silva wrestled two classes above his normal weight and won by pin at 145.
“We haven’t been happy with how we’ve been performing and it meant a lot to get the shutout,” Silva said.
The Highlanders did have three consecutive close matches.
Kai Bele rallied after trailing early to win a 16-10 decision at 152 pounds. Erich Byelick scored a 4-3 win in the tightest match of the night at 160.
After Hunter Brinkman won a close 8-5 decision at 170, the shutout came clear into view.
The Highlanders finished with four straight pins by Max Cosmides (182), Logan Andrew (195), Ben Goldin (220) and Curtis Ruff (285).
In the end, it all added up to a perfect night for Lake Highland.
“I’ve always wanted to go home after a tournament without having a single guy who lost,” coach Mike Palazzo said.
Lake Highland’s Vincent Menozzi defeated Cardinal Gibbons’ Anthony Temes in the 132pound weight class to help the Highlanders to a 72-0 victory in the championship match.