AVON PARK - The Avon Park Red Devil wrestling team followed up their third-place finish at last week's Avon Park Duals with a solid 44-18 team victory over the Frostproof Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Both head coaches were pleased with their wrestler's efforts during the matches.
"I thought we did good," said Avon Park coach Blake Germaine. "All three matches that we lost, we were winning at one point, and we got rolled on our backs. All three are beginning wrestlers that lost tonight, we are making little mistakes and I know they are going to make little mistakes, we just have to get them fixed come district time."
Frostproof's Brian Schmitt issued similar sentiments.
"We kept our bodies in good position," Schmitt said. "I don't think we put ourselves in many bad positions at all, so today I thought we did pretty good. Our hard work is starting to show up and our conditioning is where it needs to be. That is one thing that I am proud of in our kids."
The first match featured the 132-pound weight class, pairing Avon Park's Junior Pontinela and Frostproof's Zac White.
Pontinela was bumped up in weight class and held a 2-0 lead after the first round. White rebounded in the second round with a pin of Pontinela to give Frostproof the first win of the match.
The 138 and 145 classes were forfeited by Frostproof, allowing Avon Park to take a 12-6 lead.
Frostproof tied the match at 12 when Tyler Wyatt pinned Avon Park's Austin Barr in the second round in the 152 weight class.
Tipping the scales at 160 pounds, Avon Park's Chris Garcia put the Red Devils back in the lead with a win over the Bulldogs' Miguel Patterson.
The 170 and 182 weight classes were both forfeited by Frostproof, before both teams forfeited the 195 class. Following the non-matches, the Red Devils increased their lead to 30-12.
In the 220 class, Frostproof won its third individual match when Luis Reyes pinned Jeremy Ethridge in the first round, shrinking Avon Park's team lead to 30-18.
Avon Park bumped Delroy Blake up to heavyweight to face Frostproof's Jesus Espinozo. Despite the weight difference, Blake held a 4-1 advantage after the first round and led 11-2 in the second period before getting the pin. The victory gave Avon Park a 36-18 advantage.
After a double forfeit in the 106 class, Avon Park's Kenny Egan faced off against Frostproof's Roman Mancillas in the 113-pound group.
Egan dominated the match in points, winning 16-2, tacking on five more points to Avon Park's team score.
A double forfeit in the 120 class brought the last match of the night at 126 that showcased Avon Park's Dre Neely and Frostproof's Domonick Patterson.
Bumped down from the 133 weight class, Neely entered the match undefeated, while Patterson came in ranked in the top 10 in the state.
The first round was a draw as both wrestlers earned take-down points and were tied at two heading into the second period.
Neely earned an escape point and another take-down in the second as Patterson also scored an escape point. Neely led at the end of the second round 5-3.
Neely controlled the third round as he earned points for two near falls to win the match on points by a score of 11-3 and cap the team match at 44-18 in Avon Park's favor.
"We had three pins tonight," Schmitt said. "In those we were able to capitalize on our opponent's mistakes. That is what I am talking about staying in good positions that allowed us to capitalize on those mistakes. That is good to see from our young wrestlers."
Germaine, meanwhile, commented that moving up some wrestlers into heavier weight classes was the right move.
"Dre (Neely) will wrestle at 113 at state," he said. "But he wrestled at 126 tonight against a wrestler who is ranked 10th in the state and beat him 11-3."
Neely is undefeated for the year at 18-0.
He also moved Blake up to heavyweight to face some bigger opponents, hoping it would force him to fine-tune his technique and not just throw his weight around.
"Right now I am the biggest guy we have for him to wrestle and I only weigh 180." Germaine said.
Blake holds a 17-1 record on the year.
Both Frostproof and Avon Park will attend the McKeel Dual Invitational in Lakeland today. Ten schools will be competing in the match, which starts at 9:30 a.m.