Lake Gibson wrestling will be advancing to another team state championship.
The Braves (20-0) on Thursday night in the Class 2A Regional 2 Tournament at Lake Gibson High School took care of Orlando East River 69-6 in the first round and No. 4 Winter Springs 35-29 in the first-place match to punch a ticket to the team's fifth duals state championship in five years.
Next week's state championship is slated for 2:30 p.m. Friday at Osceola High School. Weigh-ins are 1:30 p.m.
Lake Gibson head wrestling coach Danny Walker tallied his 300th dual win as well.
"The team performed well," he said. "It wasn't our best performance by any means, but the team performed well."
Several wrestlers needed to step up for the Braves to get to where they wanted to be, namely Jay Walker (152) and Blake Walker (145), who both went 2-0 in the tournament.
"They were both in matches that they were not favored to win the matches, and we had lost some matches throughout the day that, we probably shouldn't have lost, and our backs were against the wall and it looked like we weren't going to pull it out," Danny Walker said. "Blake Walker and Jay Walker stepped up and really put the team on their back."
State- and nationally-ranked Brendon Abdon returned to action after missing a week due to a knee injury — Abdon won both of his matchups — but Danny Walker said he ran out of gas because of not being able to train due to injury.
"We're excited to advance again," Danny Walker said. "Duals team state has been around for five years, took forever for it to get to the state of Florida and to be one of a few teams that's made it to the dual states every single year is a huge accomplishment. I'm hoping we can finish it off and win another dual team state championship next week."
The No. 3 team in Florida Class 2A will be looking for its fourth team state championship. The Braves won it in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
Auburndale improves versus familiar foe
Auburndale lost to Winter Springs by a score of 63-12 in the first round in the Class 2A matchup. While Auburndale lost, it was an improvement from last year's turnout: Winter Springs shut out Auburndale 82-0 last season in regionals.
To motivate this year's team, Auburndale head coach Antonio Thomas wrote down last year's points one year ahead of the program's second consecutive regional against Winter Springs.
"I kind of challenged my team and was like, 'Who's going to be the reason why we ripped that off the wall?'" Thomas said. "Again, if we wouldn't have scored any points, then I would have kept putting it up there another 365 days.
"Being a coach, it shows progress. It shows the work that we are putting in, we are taking steps in the right direction. ... Overall, I'm happy we didn't get beat 82-0 like we did last year."
Auburndale heavyweight Nate Gabriel (16-3) produced a pin and Tyler Creekmore (106, 14-7) won by forfeit.
Next Tuesday, Auburndale (18-10) will host Ridge Community and Haines City.
George Jenkins wrestlers stand out in Class 3A
George Jenkins (22-7) lost to George Steinbrenner in the school's third straight Class 3A, Region 2 tournament at Osceola High School on Thursday night.
"We didn't do too bad," Jenkins head coach Gavin Osborn said. "We had some guys that were able to, we call it, scrap the entire match. One of our big takeaways is in a close dual or even in a blowout, the big difference is losing with dignity I would say. If you are going to lose, lose by points. Giving up six points with a fall is detrimental to a team score. There's 14 weight classes in wrestling. If you lose seven of them by pin, you only win seven of them by points. At the end of the day, you still lost. Overall it's definitely a learning experience. Anytime you can advance to the regionals, see some better competition, it's always a learning experience."
George Jenkins' Landon Walters (220, 18-3), ranked No. 7, pinned No. 10 Colin Bernstein of George Steinbrenner. Raquan Green (170, 17-4) won a 16-14 decision over George Steinbrenner's Ben Bramlett. Roger Brown (106, 19-2) pinned Steinbrenner's Ryan Nguyen. And Nathan Peoples (195, 15-0) pinned Tyler Amick of Steinbrenner in 18 seconds.
George Jenkins will next compete in an individual-bracketed tournament at Pinellas Park High School on Friday and Saturday.
McKeel wrestles hard in regionals; COVID prevents Mulberry from competing
After winning the Class 1A, District 7 Duals over Mulberry last week, McKeel lost 54-17 in the Region 2 Tournament in the first-place match to Palm Pay — the No. 8 team in the state.
To get to the championship round, McKeel defeated No. 16 Space Coast, 51-21.
Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Mulberry couldn't compete in regionals.
"We decided out of an abundance of caution, it was in the best interest for the other teams well-being to withdraw," Mulberry coach Chris Dangle said. "We have had several kids who have not been feeling well and a couple coaches test positive. It was a tough thing to come to grips with. The kids have worked hard to get here. But there is still a lot of the season left and my guys will bounce back and can showcase their talents at the end of the season when it really matters for them. As far as a team, we have lots of dual meets to win before the end of the season. I think this is just where our sport is now and coaches need to put the health of everyone above trophies and bragging rights."
Mulberry (12-4) will wrestle next Friday and Saturday at a Citrus High School dual.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: wrestling, sports, Lake Gibson, teal state dual, GJ, McKeel, Mulberry