Two decades have eclipsed since Wellington High had an individual emerge from the FHSAA State Wrestling Tournament and be able to proudly call himself a state champion.
Not since George Cintron won the 112-pound title in 1998 has any other Wolverine wrestler stood on top of the podium.
Entering Friday’s first round of competition at the 2018 state championships at Silver Spurs Arena, Wellington coach Travis Gray was cautiously optimistic his Wolverine wrestlers had a chance to re-write history.
Chris Difiore (106), Robert Salderriaga (126), Jared Abramson (138) and Eric Saber (182) each had a solid chance to place in the top four or even join Cintron as the schools next wrestling state champion.
“All four are individual champions coming out of the region,” Gray said. “Our goal is to close in on teams like South Dade, if not catch them.”
That may be a bit of overachieving this year, though Gray is confident of at least a top five finish, which would be a school record. Last years 12th place finish was the best in school history.
The Wolverines sit in fourth place with 45 points after the first day of competition.
DiFiore, Abramson and Saber each won their first two matches on Friday and have advanced to the semifinals on Saturday.
Abramson, with perhaps the best chance to claim top honors, placed fourth last year as a junior tourney.
Mu goal is to be a state champ,” said Abramson, who improved to 56-2. “I’ve put in the extra work at practice and have improved my cardio if I go to a six-minute match.”
Gray had expected Abramson would face Alex Urquiza of Southwest Miami, who he had lost two twice this season, but he was upset putting the Wolverines senior in a good spot for a championship. Abramson is a four-time qualifier for the state tournament.
Saber (50-3) is also a senior and finished fifth in last years’ state meet. He said prepared to finish his title run.
“My technique is a lot better than last year,” Saber said. “I’ve also improved my mat awareness and what needs to be done once I’m out there.”
Saber hasn’t lost to any competitor in his bracket.
In Class 2A Olympic Heights has two wrestlers and West Boca one that advanced to today’s semifinals.
In Class 1A American Heritage-Delray qualified three wrestlers in the semifinals, while Jupiter Christian advance two, including Kyven Higgins in the heavyweight classification.
1. South Dade 99; 4. Wellington 45; 12. St. Thomas Aquinas 27; 13. Cypress Bay 20.5; 16. Forest Hill 15; 19. Coral Springs 13, Palm Beach Gardens 13.
106: Difiore (WELL) vs. Peraza (SD); 138: Abramson (WELL) vs. Woods (HAG); 145: Townsend (WELL) vs. Kohn (HAG); 182: Saber (WELL) vs. Harvey (SD); HWT: Earle (FH) vs. Putman (TP).
1. Lake Gibson 74.5; 7. Olympic Heights 32; 28. West Boca 8.
170: Davis (OH) vs. Daine (TEPA); 195: Bordeau (WB) vs. Joseph (LGIBB); 220: Jaffy (OH) vs. Jandura (TROB).
1. Lake Highland Prep 140.5; 3. Cardinal Gibbons 50.5; 5. American Heritage-Delray 44.5; 6. Somerset 30; 7. Jupiter Christian 32; 15. Coral Springs Charter 15.
106: Layton (JUPC) vs. Taranto (LB); 113: Napolitana (AHD) vs. Wohltman (LHP); 138: DeSola (AHD) vs. Nation (TARP); 145: F. Tal Shaahar (AHD) vs. Fisher (CDS); 182: Hall (JUPC) vs. Mitchell (COBE); HWT: Higgins (JUPC) vs. McCallum (BK).