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East County Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018 9 months ago

Braden River High wrestler takes gold at state tournament

Lakewood Ranch High also had a wrestler finish on the medal stand.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Braden River senior wrestler Brendan Bengtsson (44-4) had seven days to get right. 

Braden River senior Brendan Bengtsson lifts coach Christian Sharbono high after winning the Class 2A heavyweight state title.

Seven days to get over his loss to North Fort Myers High's Adolphus Taylor in the Class 2A, 285-pound regional final. Seven days to rewire his mental game and train harder than he ever has. Seven days before he attempted to claim Braden River's first-ever state wrestling title at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. 

He made them count, and it showed at states. Bengtsson toppled every challenge in his way, culminating in an 8-0 major decision over finals opponent Carter Harris of Harmony High. After finishing second last year, Bengtsson is finally a champion.

"I can't say I envisioned it that way, but I'm glad I won," Bengtsson said. "Me and my coaches (Nick Balde and Christian Sharbono) worked really hard at practice. It made me better. I'm proud I get to say that they are my coaches. I love these guys.

"I came out here with a mental attitude of 'I'm not going to lose.' That was the biggest thing. That cost me my regional match, my mental game."

Braden River senior Brendan Bengtsson gets on top of Harmony High's Carter Harris.

Bengtsson almost had Harris pinned, but he wriggled free. He'll take the win anyway, he said. 

"Heavyweights aren't the easiest to pin," Bengtsson said, laughing. "He's a good wrestler. He's a tank."

There was one thing that went exactly as the Pirate planned: his celebration.

"He told me up front, 'I'm not going to run and jump at you, I'll kill you,'" Sharbono said. "I said, 'I'm not running and jumping (either).'"

The two met in the coach's area instead, where Bengtsson hoisted Sharbono in the air. He then gave Balde a bone-rattling embrace. 

Lakewood Ranch senior Chase Sharp grins after receiving his silver medal.

Also getting on the medal stand was Lakewood Ranch senior Chase Sharp, who took silver in the 195-pound division of Class 3A. Sharp took a 7-2 decision over Winter Springs High's Jessiah Contreras in the semifinals, but couldn't get much going against Countryside High's Anthony Burburija in the title bout and fell in a 6-2 decision. The second-place finish was an improvement on Sharp's sixth-place finish last year. 

As the crowd headed for the exits, the state champ summed up his party plans for the evening. 

"I'm going to go home and celebrate with the family," Bengtsson said. "That's what it's all about, family and having fun."


I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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