It was a foregone conclusion that Cardinal Gibbons would in the team championship in the Class 1A regionals, but there was some mystery surrounding which Chiefs wrestlers would bring home individual regional titles.
Gibbons won the team competition with 257.5 total points. Somerset Academy finished in second place with 174 points, and American Heritage-Delray took home third-place with 144 points.
“It was a great team victory and we are proud to take 12 guys to the state championships,” Gibbons coach Frank Petteneo. “We should have had one more, but that’s how it goes. You can’t take everyone.”
Gibbons had three wrestlers shocked that did not win regional titles, despite bringing home titles at the county and district levels.
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Gabrial Gibson lost in the quarterfinals of the 113 weight class, and his brother Dominick lost in the 120 pound finals. Both were pre-match favorites to win their weight classes.
“We had guys that made some mistakes that proved to be very costly,” Pettineo said. “The good thing is that we can clean them up this week and they get a fresh start in the state tournament.”
Michael Lopouchanski, the reigning county and district champion, lost the 152-pound regional championship to Lucas Seeger of Calvary Christian by a final score of 10-7. The match was tied and Seeger won on a late takedown and breakaway.
His loss inspired his brother Alex to claim the title at 160 pounds. He pinned Joseph Wisby of Jackson in only 28 seconds.
“I was so mad after my brother lost that I took all my aggression out on the kid,” Alex Lopouchanski said. “I was not going to lose the match and I wanted to win for my brother and my family.”
One of the most contested matches of the tournament took place in the 182-pound weight class when Nino Sannasardo of Gibbons rallied from being behind on points and suffering an injury during the match to defeat defending state champion Raekwon Reggler of Somerset Academy 13-9.
Sannasardo was lying on the mat in pain after Reggler was called for an illegal body slam in the second period. Sannasardo was screaming in agony while trainers worked on his back. After he won the match the crowd roared and chanted his name.
“This is the greatest feeling that I have ever had in sports,” Sannasardo said. “I have waited four years for this moment and I was not going to lose it because of a bad move on his part.”
Sannasardo finished in fourth place in the past two regionals. This is his first regional title.
“Nino came back from the injury and the kid showed a tremendous amount of heart. I cannot say enough good things about his performance today,” Petteneo said. “The kid didn’t slam him on purpose, but Nino was hurt. He fought back and showed a lot of willpower and toughness.”
Bradley Clement of American Heritage-Plantation, defeated Austin Nelson of Cardinal Gibbons 7-4 in the 220-pound weight class and fought back from a 3-1 deficit to claim the title. Clement has been wrestling for only two months and was an offensive lineman on the state championship Patriot football team.
“I out-dogged him, but he is a real quality opponent,” Clement said of Nelson. “I didn’t want to let my coaches or the crowd down. I fought back and I refused to lose.”
Patriots coach Matt Burnett said that Clement has a great shot at winning a state title despite his only being involved in the sport a short time.
“The guy is a superior athlete and he is very smart, very coachable,” Burnett said. “Athletically speaking, there is nothing that he cannot do. He is only a junior and he will get even better with more time and coaching.”
▪ Team Results — 1. Cardinal Gibbons 257.5, 2. Somerset Academy 174, 3. American Heritage-Delray 144, 4. Key West 130, 5. Keys Gate 103, 6. Jackson 87, 7. Calvary Christian 68, 8. Monsignor Pace 62, 9. American Heritage-Plantation 52.5, 10. Mater Lakes 50. Individual — 106: Morse (AHD) d. Piraino (KW), 5-2. 113: Moreno (MP) d. Talshahar (SA), 3-2. 120: Balmeceda (KG) d. D. Gibson (CG), 7-4. 126: Marcus (AHD) d. Astacio (SA), 5-3. 132: Padron (AHD) d. Recendiz (ML), 20-3. 138: Perez (MP) d. Perry (KG), pin. 145: Bylich (CG) d. Pomare (AC), 14-1. 152: Seeger (CCA) d. M. Lopouchanski (CG), 10-7. 160: A. Lopouchanski (CG) d. Whisby J, pin. 170: Georgescu (CG) d. Chao (ML), pin. 182: Sannasardo (CG) d. Reggler (SA), 13-9. 195: Thomas (AHD) d. Milord (SA), 17-1. 220: Clement (AHP) d. Nelson (CG), 7-4. 285: Jiovenetta (CS) d. McClain (CCA), pin.