Sure in a perfect world, Daniel Preciado would have made the four-hour trip north to Lakeland last weekend with dreams of bringing back an individual state wrestling championship.
But Preciado, along with teammates Alex Duran and James Medal, all three returning from having made it to state a year ago, went up there with no false illusions. They found out last year just how tough the competition was and knew it would be no easier this time around with “placing” (a sixth place or higher finish which gets you up on the podium)
And in the end, it was Preciado turning in the most successful effort as he battled his way to an impressive fourth place finish and “made the podium” in the 126 lbs. division.
Unfortunately, the news was not as good for Duran or Medal as neither would up placing.
“I’ve been saying it for years to anyone that will listen that the level of competition when you get to a wrestling state tournament in Lakeland is at a completely different level,” said Springs coach Dave Ryan who would be one to know from experience as he just completed his 30th year as the Springs coach. “I’m proud of all three, especially Danny (Preciado) who made it to the podium.”
With first and second round matches taking place on Friday, Preciado, a senior finishing out his high school career, took on Anthony Viscomi of Bradenton Palmetto in the first round and easily prevailed in a 21-2 technical fall decision. When he major decisioned Vincent Mott of Eagle Lake Lake Region 16-3 in Friday night’s second round match, he found himself in Saturday morning’s semifinals and guaranteed no worse than a sixth place finish.
Up came Saturday mornings semifinals and a shot at the championship match on Saturday night. But Preciado’s mountain to climb was huge as he took on defending state champion Clarence Arrington of Dunedin and it showed as Arrington dominated, winning 11-3. (Arrington would go on to win his second straight state title later that night). Still, Preciado needed to only win one wrestleback to make the consolation round and did so when he rallied in dramatic fashion to knock off Kaleb Warner of Lake City Columbia 8-6 in overtime. Trailing 6-4 and on the mat underneath Warner with less than 10 seconds left, Preciado managed to turn him over to get a two-point “reversal” tying the match with two seconds left.
Twenty seconds into overtime, Preciado scored a two-point takedown to win the match. Perhaps spent from the Warner match, Preciado took to the mat just an hour later to take on Yancarlos Guerra of Mater Academy, someone he had beaten four times in the last two years including twice earlier this year but the result would be different this time out as Guerra prevailed 4-0 to take third.
“Even though I was disappointed I lost (to Guerra) overall I was pretty happy with how everything went up there,” said Preciado. “Last year I lost twice on Friday and never even saw Saturday. I’m happy because I left everything I had out there on that mat and that’s all I can ask of myself.”
Meanwhile Duran, a senior, pinned Dominic Jones of Orange Park Oakleaf in his first round match in the 145 lbs. division but then got pinned himself by Christian Jurney of Ft. Myers Riverdale in the second round putting him into wrestlebacks. Needing to defeat Ryan Hagan of Okeechobee on Friday night just to see Saturday’s wrestlebacks, Duran pinned him at 4:27. He then needed to win one more wrestleback on Saturday morning to make the podium but dropped a 10-7 decision to Thomas Herlevich of Gainesville bringing an end to his season and high school wrestling career.
After getting decisioned by Kyle McClinton of Middleburg 7-4 in a first round upset loss, Medal, competing in the 138 lbs. division, never would make it to Saturday. He did defeat Devin Glenn of Auburndale 9-1 in his first wrestleback but then suffered a 5-0 shutout loss to Bruno Bredicean of Cape Coral on Friday night bringing his season to a conclusion. Only a junior, Medal will have one more shot next year.