This time, Raekwon Reggler was not going to allow a championship to slip from his grasp.
It was just a week ago when the Somerset Academy senior left the mat near tears after Cardinal Gibbons’ Nino Sannasardo rallied in the final period to snatch the 182-pound title at Class 1A regionals. Nor did Saturday’s rematch for the state crown bode well when officials dinged Reggler for stalling, sending the match to overtime.
Reggler, though, scripted a joyful ending when took down Sannasardo just 17 seconds into the extra period, going out a two-time state champion with a 5-3 triumph.
“I wanted it more this time. I wanted it a lot more,” said Reggler, Broward County’s lone champion after two days at Silver Spurs Arena.
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“[I was thinking] God really wants to see if I want it or not. I didn’t think they’d give him that extra point. I guess it was going to test my strength – see how mentally strong I am.”
It was a tough night for Cardinal Gibbons wrestlers, who earned their way into four Class 1A finals but came away with nothing but silver medals, including the team result.
Three of the Chiefs’ losses were of the gut-wrenching variety – losing twice in overtime and once in the final 15 seconds of the match.
“Hey, it happens,” coach Frank Pettineo said. “We took a very young team here, dominated most of the year. Taking second in the state is no embarrassment. Most of these guys are coming back next year.”
Lake Highland Prep reclaimed the Class 1A title for the third time in four years, winning four individual crowns in the process. The Highlanders finished with 162 ½ points, with Cardinal Gibbons scoring 131 ½.
Two Chiefs reached the final with unbeaten records, only to suffer their first loss. One was Sannasardo (55-1), while freshman Erich Byelick (57-1) also lost in overtime to the Lake Highland Prep’s Bryce Rogers.
Somerset placed seventh in the team standings, with seventh-grader Frankie Talshahar losing the final of the 113-pound division. Talshahar ran into defending state champ Joey Silva of LHP, who dominated a 15-4 decision.
“Frankie gave it a go, but the kid was just too much for him tonight – he’s too much for a lot of people,” Somerset coach Joe Blasucci said. “It’s going to make him hungry. It’s just going to take a year to get him back.”
Redemption was much quicker for Reggler, who spent the week between meets preparing for the likelihood of a rematch.
“I was crying outside for like 20 minutes,” said Reggler, recalling the immediate aftermath of his regional loss. “But I couldn’t let myself stay down for too long. I had to let it build me back up, make me even stronger.”
The senior hit the training mat hard, watching motivational videos during down times to rebuild his confidence.
“I felt real threatened last time when I lost,” he said, “but now it feels great to have [the title] again.”
Reggler led almost from the outset, scoring a takedown 33 seconds into the match, and nursed a 3-2 lead for most of the third period. With 10 seconds left, though, the referee awarded Sannasardo a point for delay.
“I got a little scared there at the end,” Blasucci said. “He stopped wrestling there for about five seconds, but it was enough. I knew he’d get the takedown in overtime, though.”
With both men on their feet, Reggler spun and forced Sannasardo to the mat to score the sudden-death takedown.
“I was working my hardest,” Sannasardo said. “He’s a good wrestler; I respect him. He won it in the end.”
In Class 3A, St. Thomas freshman Grant Aronoff saw his unbeaten mark tumble in the 138-pound final when he was undone by someone with an even more impressive record – Connor Prince of Palm Harbor University, who completed a 70-0 season with an 8-3 decision.
The match actually was tied 3-3 after two periods before Prince stepped up the pace. “The other guy just showed a little more composure than [Aronoff] did,” Raiders coach Gerry Braun said. “One’s 15, one’s 19.”