Hall, Rodriguez achieve perfection
February 19, 2012St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Shiquan Hall of St. Thomas Aquinas gets the better of Isaiah Varona of South Dade during the FHSAA 3A 120 pound Wrestling Championships at The Lakeland Center Saturday February 18, 2012 in Lakeland , Florida.
Five wrestlers from Broward County won individual state championships Saturday night, with St. Thomas Aquinas’ Shiquan Hall and Archbishop McCarthy’s Javier Rodriguez capping perfect seasons with victories at The Lakeland Center.
Cardinal Gibbons sophomore Jamal Morris didn’t go unbeaten in his sophomore season, but he didn’t seem too broken up about that little detail. Morris (43-2) claimed his second championship in a row after pinning Somerset’s Brandon Conroy in overtime.
Hall, a junior, is 30-0 after beating former South Dade teammate Isaiah Varona 7-3 after the duo were deadlocked at 2 going into the third. Hall, who wrestled for the Bucs last season, said the familiarity of his opponent didn’t exactly help things. Hall won the Class 3A title at 120 pounds.
“My coaches always tell me to treat things like a regular match, and my best wrestling comes in the practice room,” said Hall, who opened things up by picking up a pair of points with 1:03 remaining. “It was special to know no one beat me and that I’m truly No. 1 in the state.”
Added coach Rob Wimberley: “There was a lot of extra pressure on him, wrestling his old teammate, his old team.”
Rodriguez, a senior who went 51-0, was the only Broward wrestler to place in Class 2A and eased past Cape Coral’s Dario Bredicean 11-5.
“I told my coach before the season that I wanted to be the first undefeated wrestler at McCarthy,” Rodriguez said. “I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to do it.”
Somerset, a first-year program at the west Pembroke Pines charter school, made history as Chase Singletary won the Class 1A bout at 113 pounds as a seventh-grader.
“I worked my hardest and just went out there and wrestled,” said Singletary, who beat Miami Pace’s Chris Moreno 4-0 after taking a 3-0 lead in the opening period. “This is a little overwhelming.’’
The 14-year-old finished in second place last season at Tampa Bay Christian after losing to Gibbons’ Morris. Singletary became the first wrestler in Florida history to advance to the state final as a sixth-grader.
“This kid is going to be the future of Florida wrestling,” said Somerset coach Joe Blasucci, who coaches both Singletary and Conroy at a Naples-based AAU program. “He’s something special. He got second last year, and I sat with him on the steps as a friend of the family and told him he would never lose in this building again. Ever. I reminded him of that, and he said he wouldn’t.”
Morris had a battle against the older Somerset wrestler as Conroy — a senior — battled him throughout. Morris trailed 4-3 with 1:08 left but tied it moments later. In overtime, Morris pinned Conroy at 6:18. Morris, as a champion in his first two seasons, is on pace to match Jonathan Taylor’s four titles with the then-Redskins from 2001 to ’04.
“This feels good. Very good,’’ said Morris, who along with his twin brother, Jamel — who placed third at 120 — commute from Miami via Tri-Rail to attend Gibbons.
Gibbons got a second champ when Andrew Wisdom avenged his lone loss of the season suffered at regionals by beating Jupiter Christian’s David Kestner 7-6. Wisdom is 45-1 and said the loss to Kestner wasn’t the worst thing to happen.
No Broward school was in contention to win a team championship by the time the finals rolled around as Aquinas — despite having three in the finals — came in almost 100 points back of eventual 3A champ Brandon. The Chiefs, who won the 1A title last year, finished third in 1A with Somerset in fourth.
Aquinas had three in the finals but only brought home one gold. At 145 pounds, Kris Iglesias lost to Southwest’s Yoanse Mejia 19-3. Brandon’s Clark Glass became the second Florida wrestler — both crowned Saturday — to win five titles when he beat Aquinas’ Gio Jeovenetta 16-0. Flanagan’s Justin Smith lost to South Dade’s William Ford 7-3 at 220 pounds.