High School Sports

Broward County crowns five state championship wrestlers — including three from St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas Grant Aronoff, bottom, beat Southwest Miami’s Franco Valdes to win the Class 3A 138-pound division, Aronoff’s second state title.
St. Thomas Aquinas Grant Aronoff, bottom, beat Southwest Miami’s Franco Valdes to win the Class 3A 138-pound division, Aronoff’s second state title.

St. Thomas Aquinas has had some exceptional wrestlers over the years, but in the official state record book, junior Grant Aronoff leads them all.

And not just alphabetically.

"He’s right there, right up there at the top," coach Robert Wimberley said. "We have some pretty big names, and he’s equal to them."

Aronoff and Josiah Gittman became the latest two-time state champions at Aquinas on Saturday night as both won Class 3A final bouts for the second consecutive year.

Aronoff and Gittman made up a five-man championship class from Broward County spanning two classes at Silver Spurs Arena.

Eighth-grader Lucas Willis from Somerset in Pembroke Pines started the night off with a thrilling win at 120 pounds and was followed by Aronoff, Aquinas’ Bryce Marcus, Gittman and Christopher Williams of Cardinal Gibbons who ended his senior year a perfect 42-0.

Unlike Gittman – who came back from injury to go 21-0 and win at 195 pounds – Aronoff will have a shot at three titles which has only been done once (Guy Gibson) at Aquinas.

Valdez, who ends 59-2, is a two-time state champ by winning as a freshman and sophomore and is now a two-time runner-up after finishing second the past two seasons.

"I wrestled him earlier in the season so I knew if I pressed the pace, I would dominate the match," said Aronoff, who finishes his junior campaign 53-3 and is off to try and win his third national age-group championship.

"It was fun; last year I definitely had a tougher tournament. This one wasn’t so tough. I had a tough semifinal match, a tough match in the finals but that was about it."

Said Wimberley: "He drew two state champions and he gorilla wrestled both of them. He gave up an escape point with a second left in the semifinal and that was the only point he gave up the whole tournament. He dominated a dominant weight class.

While Aronoff will have the chance to win three state titles in his high school career, Somerset’s Lucas Willis would have the opportunity to become Broward County’s first five-time state champ given his victory as an eighth-grader on Saturday night.

Willis, rocking a shock of platinum blonde hair, trailed 10-7 in the second period but cut his deficit to one point when he stuck Clay senior Christopher Merring on the mat and finished the job with a pin early in the third.

After jumping into the sky and into the arms of his Somerset coaches, Willis hopped a barrier gate and pulled himself up and into the elevated stands to give his mom Reni a big hug.

"[Merring] is a scrambler so I had to look big in that match," said Willis, who ends his season 55-4. "My adrenaline was already high so when I heard that whistle blow, I went through the roof."

So, too, did Marcus who dominated South Dade’s Todd Perry before dropping him late in the third and earning a pin with 37 seconds remaining.

"I have worked hard in my two years at St. Thomas and my training partner [Aronoff] is the best in the country," Marcus said. "I knew if I could hang with him, I could hang with anyone out here. This feels great; my brother took second here and I always wanted to brag that I won state and he didn’t."

Later in the night, Gittman dominated his opponent as he took down Fletcher’s Narek Stepanyan and brought back a major decision at 10-0.

"I felt like I wrestled my match, didn’t get overcome by the magnitude of states," Gittman said. "I tried to stay focused, wrestle like a robot out there. Being here last year really helped a lot."

Perhaps the best match of the night came as Williams aimed at perfection. Williams, whose father Jonathan coaches him, went down 3-0 in the third but that only seemed to get him mad. Williams brok through and took a 4-3 lead before Cam Brown tied him up in the final seconds.

Williams then put Brown on the ground with three seconds left and took home a 6-4 win with the two points that came with it. Williams lost in the finals as a junior last year.

"This is just an amazing feeling," said Williams, who jumped high into his father’s arms after the victory. "This is my first state title; me and my dad have been wanting to win this forever. I was down, but I knew I had to do something to win."

State wrestling tournament

▪ Class 3A finals (Broward County wrestlers) – 138-pounds: Grant Aronoff (St. Thomas Aquinas) d. Franco Valdes (Southwest Miami) 7-0; 152: Bryce Marcus (STA) p. Todd Perry (South Dade), 5:23; 195: Josiah Gittman (STA) md. Narek Stepanyan (Fletcher) 10-0.

▪ Class 3A semifinals (Broward County wrestlers) – 132 pounds: Alyis Mursuli (South Dade) p. Vinny Sessa (STA) 3:48; 138: Aronoff (STA) d. Cullen Telfer (Strawberry Crest) 3-1; 152: Marcus (STA) md. Paul Detwiler (Fleming Island) 13-5; 195: Gittman (STA) p. Justin Marotta (Freedom) 3:35.

▪ Class 2A semifinals (Broward County wrestlers) – 106 pounds: Connor Williams (Lake Gibson) d. Anthony Valverde (South Broward) 13-9.

▪ Class 1A finals (Broward County wrestlers) – 120-pounds: Lucas Willis (Somerset-Pines) p. Christopher Merring (Clay) 4:39; 160: Jake Brindley (Lake Highland) d. Osvani Ley (CG) 3-1; 182: Bryce Rogers (Lake Highland) p. Michael Lopouchanski (CG) 1:24; 195: Christopher Williams (CG) d. Cam Brown (Florida High) 6-4.

▪ Class 1A semifinals (Broward County wrestlers) – 120-pounds: Willis (Som) d. Alan Moreno (St. Stephens) 6-0; 145: Keith Sawdo (Clay) d. Amadeaus Concepcion (CG) 1-0; 152: Anthony Artalona (Tampa Prep) p. Adonis Concepcion (CG) 1:37; 160: Brindley (LHP) d. Juan Vernaza (Som) 5-2; Ley (CG) md. Jordan Gibson 18-5; 170: Cole Maddox (Arnold) d. Nick Benton (Som) 3-2; 182: Lopouchanski (CG) p. Chris Leiva (Oasis) 1:35; Rogers (LHP) p. Raul Gierbolini (Som) 1:42; 195: Williams (CG) p. David Lunn (North Florida Christian) 1:41.

BASEBALL

▪ Palmetto 3, Coral Reef 1: WP: Matt Turner (2-0), CG, 6 K’s, 0BB. LP: Victor Maderos. PAL (5-0): Eddy Arteaga 1-1, RBI. Nick Labrada 1-2, SB, R. Zack Hurst 1-1.

▪ University School 9, Pembroke Pines Charter 4: WP: Buddy Hayward (2-0), 5 IP, 5 Ks. Jack Schmidt 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI. Jonny Miller 2-3, R, SB. Jake Pfunstein 2-4, 2R, RBI, SB.

▪ Belen 9, Seacrest 6: WP: Alejandro Torres 0 R, 3 K’s. SV: Michael Cabeza. BEL (3-1): Humberto Torres 1-2, HR, 2 RBI. Andrew Hernandez 1-2, HR, 2 RBI. Jon Barditch 1-2, 2 RBI.

▪ Pine Crest 4, Calvary Christian 3: WP: Sam Wurth CG, 3 K’s, 0 BB. Michael Rothenberg GW RBI. Jared DeFaria 2 H, 1B, 2B, RBI. Ryan Keenan RBI. Jake Kessinger RBI.

▪ LaSalle 13, iMater 3: WP: Joshua Leon 4 IP, 0ER, 2 K’s, R. LP: Montoya. LS (1-3): Waterman 2-3, 2B, 2RBI, 2R, B. Garcia 2-2, RBI, R, 2 BB. D.Carames 2-4, 2 RBI, R.

▪ University School 11, Naples Seacrest 7: WP: Scott Gutstein (2-0). US (5-0): Jack Schmidt 3-3, 2 2B, R, RBI. Josh LaPrest 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI. Andrew Grinberg 2-4, 2 SB, R.

▪ Miami Country Day 9, Marathon 1: WP: Jorden Gross (1-0), CG, R, 13 K’s.. LP: Clay Daniels. MCD (2-3): Griffin Sennett 2-4, 3 RBI. Myles Berlowitz 2-2, 2 R. Kian Andersen 2-4. Jordan Sale 2-4. MAR 3-1.

SOFTBALL

▪ Killian 11, Braddock 2: WP: Stephanie Howard CG, 2 RBI. Natalie de la Esprilla 4-4, 3 SB. Amaya Thomas 4-4, 3 SB, 2 RBI. Kathedra Cagne 2-2, 2 RBI. KIL 6-3.

FLAG FOOTBALL

Miami Dolphins Girls Flag Football Jamboree

▪ Cypress Bay 7, South Broward 6.

▪ Hollywood Hills 18, Plantation 0.

▪ Everglades 25, Monarch 2.

▪ Western 12, Blanche Ely 0.

▪ Boyd Anderson 8, Ferguson 7.

▪ Miramar 6, Cypress Bay 0.

▪ Miami Jackson 27, Cooper City 12.

▪ Hollywood Hills 19, Ft. Lauderdale 0.

▪ Pompano 7, McArthur 6.

▪ Hialeah 12, Coconut Creek 6.

▪ Miami Southridge 9, Deerfield 0.

▪ Hallandale 12, Mater Academy 0.

▪ Flanagan 31, Northeast 0.

▪ Hialeah 18, Pines Charter 6.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

▪ Lake Highland Prep 17, Pine Crest 11: PC: Tara Shecter 4 goals. Amanda Anderson 3 goals. Kennady Smith 16 saves.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

▪ St Thomas Aquinas 18, Olympia 12: Ali Beekhuizen 7 goals, 4 assists, 5 draw controls. Carly Steinlauf 4 goals, 4 assists, 6 draw controls. Morgan Luske 10 saves, 2 interceptions.

▪ Coral Shores 11, University School 9: US: Nicole Steiner 6 goals, assist. Chiara Omsky 2 goals. Peri Shechtman goal, 2 assists. Sarah Amster assist. Samantha Cohen assist. Emma Roberts assist. Jordyn Epstein 8 saves.

▪ Palmer Trinity 12, Coral Reef 10: Brittney Lary 4 goals.

GIRL’S WATER POLO

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

▪ Gulliver Prep 13, Boone 3: Nicole Aulicino 6 goals, 4 steals, 3 assists. Shani Rupp 2 goals, 2 steals, 3 assists. Kalei Ganser 2 goals, 3 steals, assist. GP 12-4.

BOYS WATER POLO

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

▪ Gulliver Prep 13, Boone 5: Rene Peralta 6 goals, 6 steals, 4 assists. Caio Jordao 3 goals, 2 steals, 6 assists. Felipe Granziera 7 blocks, 2 steals. GP 12-4.

GIRLS’ TRACK

▪ Coach Sam Burley Hall Of Fame Invitational — 1. Miami Northwestern 60, 2. Ransom Everglades 27, 3. Raines 22, 4. Miami Jackson 16, 5. Coral Reef 13, 6. St. Thomas Aquinas 12.50, 7. American Heritage Plantation 10.50, 8. Gulliver Prep 10, 8. Ferguson 10, 10. Fort Myers 8, 10. Vero Beach 8, 10. Mater Academy Charter 8. 13. Palmer Trinity 7, 14. Miramar 6, 15. Miami Carol City 4, 15. Lourdes 4, 17. Varela 3, 17. North Miami 3, 19. Olympia 1, 19. Krop 1. Individuals — 4x800 Relay: 1. Northwestern 9:35.71. High Jump: 1. Tiara McMinn (JAX) 1.72m. Pole Vault: 1. Anne Gutierrez (RE) 10-09.00. Long Jump: 1. Taranique Alexander (NW) 5.54m. Triple Jump: 1. Taranique Alexander (NW) 11.99m. Shot Put: 1. Kaylah Clark (NW) 13.03m.

▪ Pine Crest Panther Relays — 1. Pine Crest 105, 2. Douglas 97, 3. South Florida HEAT 75, 4. Carrollton 68, 5. Calvary Christian 56, 6. Highlands Christian 53, 7. Key West 51, 8. Cardinal Gibbons 47, 9. Florida Christian 36, 10. Westminster Academy 17, 11. Divine Savior Academy 13, 12. Coral Springs Christian 11, 13. University School 9.

BOYS’ TRACK

▪ Coach Sam Burley Hall Of Fame Invitational — 1. Columbus 38, 2. Ferguson 27, 2. American Heritage Plantation 27, 4. Miramar 24, 5. St. Thomas Aquinas 22, 6. Belen 21, 7. Vero Beach 20, 8. Miami Northwestern 15, 9. South Dade 13, 10. Olympia 12, 11. Miami Killian 10, 11. Miami Carol City 10, 13. Raines 9, 14. North Miami 6, 15. Ransom Everglades 4, 15. Miami Central 4, 15. Homestead 4, 18. Coral Reef 3, 19. Braddock 2, 19. Miami Norland 2. Individuals — 4x800 Relay: 1. Northwestern 8:09.86. High Jump: 1. Donald Chaney (BEL) 1.87m. Pole Vault: 1. Liam Ackerman (FER) 14-00.00. Long Jump: 1. Caleb Okwaraji (MIR) 6.80m. Triple Jump: 1. Kani Falconer (KIL) 14.24m. Discus Throw: 1. Ellis Mcmillon (CC) 40.92m.

▪ Pine Crest Panther Relays — 1. Douglas 104, 2. Calvary Christian 93.50, 3. Pine Crest 90, 4. Coconut Creek 72.50, 5. Key West 68, 6. Coral Springs Christian 54.50, 7. South Florida HEAT 51, 8. Cardinal Gibbons 31, 9. Westminster Academy 22.50, 10. Divine Savior 21, 11. Florida Christian 18, 12. Highlands Christian 17, 13. University School 7, 14. Somerset Prep 2.

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