Four Cape Coral wrestlers placed in the top six at this weekend's FHSAA Class 2A Wrestling Finals in Lakeland with one of those capturing the brass ring.
Ida Baker senior Brandon Gacad claimed the elusive state title he has been pursuing in the 120-pound class Saturday evening with a 4-0 victory over Naples' Joseph Guelfi in the title match.
"He worked his tail off," said Baker coach Fernando Vazquez. "He gave up only one point this entore tournament. Our motto for the year was win the day. Well, he won the day."
Two wrestlers representing Cape High placed Saturday, including Nick Anthony with a third-place finish in the 132-pound class with a 9-3 decision. Teammate Bruno Bredicean placed sixth after starting the final day in the consolation round's semifinals with a shot at third place as well.
Mariner's Hunter Schwalder likewise had a shot at third place, but finished fifth in the 182-pound class, losing his match in the consolation semifinal and winning the fifth-place match 3-1.
Gacad outscored his four opponents at the state meet 22-1, winning the title match 4-0. It is his first state title after placing second each of the last two years.
"It hasn't kicked in yet." said Gacad. "But it feels good. It is a big weight off my shoulders."
Gacad wrestled just two matches Saturday.
"Both were against tough kids," Gacad said. "It is pretty amazing."
"He is a very special and unique man, one of very few," said Vazquez. "He always had the talent, going through coaching changes and riding it out. His number one goal was to prove people wrong. As coaches we want our kids to become proud members of society. Overall, his demeanor has been great, his work ethic, his work in the classroom, etc."
It has been a four-year quest for Gacad, who accumulated three district championships and was runner-up as an 8th grader and a freshman. He won his first regional championship last week, was second as a freshman and third as a junior.
Saturday's championship match title also is the 200th career win for Gacad, his fourth straight trip to the state meet. This year also was the best record for the Bulldogs team at 23-6.
Track & Field
Lemon Bay Invitational
Shawn Hasten: 2nd 1600 meters; 2nd 800.
Josh Teeter: 3rd 800.
Isaiah Romano: 1st 400; 3rd long jump; 2nd 4x400 relay.
Corey Murphy: 1st 100; 1st long jump; 2nd 4x400 relay.
Wyatt Deems: 2nd triple jump; 2nd 4x400 relay; 3rd high jump.
Jaylen Mitchell: 2nd long jump; 2nd 4x400 relay.
Eric Barnes: 3rd shot put.