2018 FHSAA State Tournament
March 26, 2018
Wrestling is a sport where the unexpected can, and will, happen. There is no better proof of this than the state tournament. Former state champions don’t place, unknown kids win, teams break records. It is truly the pinnacle of what wrestling embodies, never being able to expect anything. Even the best wrestlers in the world lose to people they shouldn’t because anyone can beat anyone.
The 2018 FHSAA State Wrestling Tournament had numerous unexpected and unseen events. For example, there were numerous returning state champs who did not win this year. At the 160-pound weight class in division 2A, the first match of the weight was the state finals from last year. This was the weight that Jesuits own Tim Eberly qualified for. 2A 160 was unanimously seen as the hardest weight class in all 3 divisions as it contained 2 state champions, 2 state placers, a Puerto Rican national champion, and multiple wrestlers who were good enough to be state placers. Tim Eberly even won his first match in this weight class, which is a huge deal.
This year, records were set at the State Tournament. Lake Highland Prep, a prep school in Orlando, known as being one of the top 10 wrestling teams in the country, set near unbeatable standards by having 14 members of their team place in the state of Florida. To make it even more impressive, a wrestling lineup only contains 14 guys. This means that they had every member of their team be a state placer. This is extremely impressive, as even bringing a full lineup to the state tournament is unheard of. The only way a team can beat this record is if they have every member of their team win, but I have a feeling that Lake Highland will be shooting for this goal next.
Brandon High School is known for being the most dominant wrestling program of all time. Brandon is known for having the longest win streak of all time, picking up 459 consecutive dual meet wins, lasting a total of 34 years. This streak ended in 2008, but they still had a seventeen-year-long win streak at the FHSAA state tournament. This year was the year the would’ve gotten their 18th if it were not for Lake Gibson. Lake Gibson has beaten them the past 2 years at the district and region tournaments but was never able to beat them when it came time to perform at the state tournament. That was, until this year they were finally able to win. It’s the end of a dynasty, and it’s about time someone came and put them in their place.
Many things happened at this year’s state championship, most of them unique to the sport of wrestling. How many other sports can you have middle schoolers win state titles? Well in this year’s state tournament, I saw 8th grader Jonathan Conrad win his first state title after being a runner-up last year, and the kid who beat him, 8th grader Nic Bouzakis pick up his second. Nic is on track to be Florida’s first six-time state champion.
Wrestling is a sport in which you have to expect the unexpected, things never happen the way they should. If I have learned anything from competing at, and observing the state tournament, it’s that it is not a normal tournament, so don’t treat it like such.