By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD – It took some time for the dust to settle, but when it did, it was Venice and host Lemon Bay that found itself at the top of the team standings at the Ryan Bidwell Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Lemon Bay High School on Saturday.
Other area schools, such as Imagine of North Port and Port Charlotte, had its good moments as well, putting at least one wrestler in the finals.
Venice edged out the Manta Rays in points 173 to 154 to take the top spot, putting six wrestlers on the top podium, including Jacob Mathis at 152, who was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
Lemon Bay had three champions in Tyler Brady (113), Albert Werden (120), and Marc Towers (160), who may have had the best finals match of the day against Imagine’s Jacob Wilmoth.
Brad Fuson (126) and Brock LaVallee (220) were runners-up for the Manta Rays
Lemon Bay coach Mike Schyck said he saw some different things from his kids in this meet, and that was a good thing, mostly.
“We fought to win some matches that we wouldn’t have won in the middle of the year,” Schyck said. “We had a couple hiccups. We would have liked to have seen a few more wrestlers make the finals.
Towers trailed 5-4 going into the final period, but was able to take him down and get a near pin to take control of the match and earn a 12-7 victory.
“It was a tough match, but I had to do what my coaches tell me to do and that’s to fight through and get the victory,” Towers said.
Imagine coach Rob McCabe, whose team was decimated by injury and sickness to three of his wrestlers, said Wilmoth and the rest of his team showed something.
“We won a couple matches we should have lost and vice-versa. It was a better tournament than last week,” McCabe said. “Jacob is still a green wrestler and didn’t know what to do in that situation. He went for points and got thrown.”
For Port Charlotte, Gavin Spencer was a runner-up to Corey Harris of Sebring in 182, which helped an overachieving Pirate team finish sixth as a team.
“We have a lot of first- and second-year wrestlers and they’ve been wrestling a little above their ability,” said Graham Marshall, Port Charlotte coach. “They’re working hard and they’re not intimidated by the experience of the other teams here.”
Because only 11 schools participated, this year’s Bidwell tournament went with a round-robin format instead of the traditional elimination format, giving everyone a chance to wrestle at least three times.
The problem was that some weight classes (such as 126) had only five wrestlers, while the 170-class had a dozen. These weight classes would have one and three pools, respectively, with no final in the single pools and a tiebreaker for the three-pool format.
Ryan Bidwell Memorial Wrestling Tournament
At Lemon Bay High School
Team Standings: Venice 173, Lemon Bay 154, Pinellas Park 119.5, Sebring 90, Dixie Hollins 88, Port Charlotte 55, St. Stephen’s 51, Booker 47, Lake Placid 39.5, Imagine 31, Evangelical Christian 22.5
Individual standings: 106: 1. Matt Malavski (ECS), 2. Nathan Parker (VEN),3. Jake Manning (STS); 113: 1. Tyler Brady (LB), 2. Tyler Conway (VEN), 3. J.T. Headley (PP); 120: 1. Albert Werden (LB), 2. Alan Morano (STS), 3. Hugh Herring (DH); 126: 1. Simon Ullrich (VEN), 2. Brad Fuson (LB), 3. Danny Cardoso (SEB); 132: 1. Dan Stone (VEN), 2. Jeffrey Phillips (BKR), 3. Tripp Little (LB); 138: 1. Hunter Moline (VEN), 2. Jarred Dilley (LB), 3. Cullen Macfarlane (DH); 145: 1. Rich Silver (SEB), 2. Calvin Williams (BKR), 3. Justin Webb (BH); 152: 1. Jacob Mathis (VEN), 2. Coleman Bryant (DH), 3. Jacent Blake (PP); 160: 1. Marc Towers (VEN), 2. Jacob Wilmoth (IMA), 3. Josh Berenson (LP); 170: 1. Luke Veigel (VEN), 2. Phillip Sepp (SEB), 3. Jake Ross (STS); 182: 1. Corey Harris (SEB), 2. Gavin Spencer (PC), 3. Scott Woodson (PP); 195: 1. Tyler Steedley (LP), 2. Richardo Taylor (PP), 3. Eric Chavarria (BKR); 220: 1. Kyle Johnson (VEN), 2. Brock LaVallee (LB), 3. Nick Sims (PP); 285: 1. Jesse Smith (DH), 2. Tyrek Richards (SEB), 3. Mike Morales (LB).