When U.S. Olympian Jared Frayer saw Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas wrestling coach Rob Wimberley on Saturday night, he asked for an introduction.
Frayer wanted to meet Aquinas sophomore Grant Aranoff.
“He’s the most dominant wrestler in the state of Florida,” Wimberley said of Aranoff.
“It sounds like bragging, but it’s true. Ask any coach here. They come to see him.”
Aranoff was most definitely dominant Saturday night as he cruised to the Class 3A state championship at 138 pounds.
Aranoff and junior teammate Josiah Gittman (182 pounds) were the two Broward wrestlers to win a title Saturday at Silver Spurs Arena.
Justin Camacho of nearby Kissimmee Gateway was simply overmatched as Aranoff took control early and led 11-0 after the first period.
The bout mercifully ended on a technical fall at 16-1 midway through the second.
“I wrestled [Camacho] earlier in the season so I kind of knew how that was going to go,’’ said Aranoff, who is training for the sophomore national tournament.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to win this, but I’ve been training for bigger things. This is a tournament that came along the way.”
Aranoff became the 18th state champion in St. Thomas Aquinas history and is now 103-3 in two seasons with the Raiders. Last season, he was unbeaten as a freshman before losing in the finals; this season, he’s 55-2 with his only losses coming at a meet in Ohio.
Aranoff can now challenge the St. Thomas record of three state titles won by Guy Gibson from 2000 to ’02.
“Guy says Grant is way ahead of him at this point,” said Wimberley, who is Gibson’s uncle.
Later in the night, Gittman took control of his match with Johnny Raich of Palm Beach Gardens as he built a 5-0 lead before Raich started working his way back.
Although Gittman was never in any real trouble, the two points picked up with 20 seconds left gave him plenty of breathing room in a 7-2 win.
“It was a hard match and [Raich] beat me earlier this year so I really wanted to get him this time, especially on such a big stage,” said Gittman, only in his third year in the sport and the Raiders’ 19th champion.
“My coaches gave me a game plan and I stuck with it and it worked. I’m so happy right now.”
In Class 1A, Cardinal Gibbons junior Christopher Williams took a 2-0 lead on Ryan Thomas but it should have been more.
Williams took Thomas down, only he didn’t get any points for it, and Thomas — who was one of three to win a state title with Gibbons in 2014 before he left for American Heritage-Delray — quickly battled back and ended up winning 8-3.
Of the eight Broward wrestlers who survived to Saturday’s morning semifinals, only three — Aranoff, Gittman and Williams — moved on to the finals.
The American Heritage duo of Dominick Venturi and Bradley Clement both lost in Class 1A.
Venturi was pinned at 145 by Lake Highland’s Jake Brindley in 3:23 while Lake Highland’s Ben Goldin beat Clement 2-1 at 220 pounds.
Coral Springs Charter’s Kevin Soltis was pinned by Lake Highland’s Kevin Ford in 1:44 at 182.
Cardinal Gibbons lost one of its two semifinalists in 1A with Julian Georgesou (46-2) getting pinned by Lake Highland’s Elijah Cleary in 3:28. Georgesou came back and took third, beating Bradenton Southeast’s Stephen Kelle 10-4.
In Class 3A, Aquinas’ Bryce Marcus lost to Orlando Freedom’s Kurtis Aimable 17-8 at 145 before losing to Southwest’s Angel Delcueto 4-1 in the third-place final.
After losing in the second round Friday, Cypress Bay’s Glen Eisman crawled through wrestlebacks and ended up placing fourth at 182 after losing in the consolation finals.
Team scores (top 5 and Broward schools): 1. South Dade 140; 2. Southridge 107; 3. St. Thomas Aquinas 94.5; 4. Southwest 91.5; 5. Kissimmee Osceola 85.5; 26. Cypress Bay 18; 33. Coral Springs 13; 36. Cooper City 11; 39. Plantation 10; 50. Everglades 3; 54. Hollywood Hills 2.
Broward championship results — 138 pounds: Grant Aranoff (St. Thomas Aquinas) tf. Justin Camacho (Gateway) 16-1. 182: Josiah Gittman (Aquinas) d. Johnny Raich (Palm Beach Gardens) 7-2.
Broward semifinal results — 138 pounds: Grant Aranoff (Aquinas) tf. Christian Rivera (Freedom) 16-1. 145: Kurtis Aimable (Freedom) md. Bryce Marcus (Aquinas) 17-8. 182: Josiah Gittman (Aquinas) d. Steven Mercadante (Sarasota) 6-5.
Broward consolation finals — 120 pounds: Jake Semrad (Longwood) ot. Stephen Moreno (Aquinas) 3-2. 145: Angel Delcueto (Southwest) p. Bryce Marcus (Aquinas) 4-1. 182: Ryan Smenda (Fleming) d. Glen Eisman (Cypress Bay) 4-2.
Team scores (top 5 and Broward schools): 1. Orlando Lake Highland 296.5; 2. Clay 178.5; 3. Panama City Arnold 114.5; 4. Tampa Prep 82; 5. Cardinal Gibbons 81.5; 17. Somerset-Pines 27; 22. Coral Springs Charter 21; 27. American Heritage 17; 34. Coconut Creek 12; 51. Hallandale 3.
Broward championship results — 195-pounds: Ryan Thomas (Heritage-Delray) d. Christopher Williams 8-3.
Broward semifinal results —145-pounds: Jake Brindley (Highland) p. Dominick Venturi (Heritage) 3:23. 170: Elijah Cleary (Highlands) p. Julian Georgesou (Gibbons) 3:28. 182: Kevin Ford (Highland) p. Kevin Soltis (Coral Springs Charter) 1:44. 195: Christopher Williams (Gibbons) d. Cam Brown (FlaHS) 5-3. 220: Ben Goldin (Highlands) d. Bradley Clement (Heritage) 2-1.
Broward consolation finals —145-pounds: Ethan Ehrens (Astronaut) d. Osani Ley (Gibbons) 3-1. 170: Julian Georgesou (Gibbons) d. Stephen Kelle (Astronaut) 10-4.