LAKEWOOD RANCH — Ty McLeod would never get back his senior wrestling season.
So when the Lakewood Ranch High wrestler tore his lateral collateral ligament in the first tournament of the season in November, he only had one question for Dr. Daniel Lamar: How soon would he be able to get back out on the mat?
“I tore ligaments before, so I wasn’t surprised,” McLeod says. “I knew when I went to the doctor he was going to tell me to sit out, but I knew I was going to try and make a comeback. I told him, ‘With all do respect, I’m going to wrestle this season.’”
With help from Lamar and the staff at Coastal Orthopedics, McLeod returned to the mat two months later for the Manatee County Championships, at which he finished second in the 170-pound weight class.
“It felt really good to be back,” McLeod says. “It was hard at first because I didn’t have the cardio, but I battled through it and built my cardio back up. I can’t thank Dr. Lamar enough for everything he did for me. He’s helped me out a lot.”
Following the Manatee County Championships, McLeod finished third in both the district and regional tournaments to earn a berth in the FHSAA Class 2A Wrestling Championships Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 at the Lakeland Center.
It was McLeod’s first trip to the wrestling championships.
“I didn’t expect it all,” McLeod says. “It’s definitely a great feeling knowing that you made it. I’m definitely going to learn from it. I’m never going to get it back, so I’m just going to go out and wrestle hard and make it worth it.”
McLeod was one of five Lakewood wrestlers who qualified for the wrestling championships, surpassing the previous school record of three state qualifiers in a single season.
Joining McLeod at the wrestling championships were freshman Hunter Reed (106), sophomore Dylan Cameron (120), sophomore Tim Dwyer (132) and junior Jared Dipsiner (138).
Lakewood finished eighth overall, out of 72 teams. Previously, the team’s highest overall placement had been 46th.
Reed led the way for the Mustangs, finishing as the state runner-up. Cameron also earned a medal with a fourth-place finish. McLeod missed placing in the top six by one match after falling 2-0. Dipsiner went 1-2, and Dwyer went 0-2.
Perhaps the most surprising wrestler this season was Dwyer, who qualified for the wrestling
championships in just his second season of wrestling. Dwyer picked up wrestling last season as a way to improve in jiu-jitsu, but he ended up liking wrestling more and decided to stick with it.
“I like the fact that you beat someone one-on-one, and you know that you are the winner,” Dwyer says.
But even Dwyer didn’t expect to have this much success so soon.
“I was really happy that I made it that far,” Dwyer says. “I (wasn’t) expecting to go out and completely dominate. I just wanted to get some wins and gauge where I’m at for next year, so I can go back and win it.
“I was just looking forward to being with the team,” Dwyer says. “So far, we set the record for most qualifiers, so I’m just happy to be a part of the team.”
This year marked the sixth consecutive year the Mustangs have had at least one state qualifier. To date, Lakewood has had 12 state qualifiers and four state placers.
“What sets this year aside is the intensity level that (assistant coach) Kraig Reed has brought this year,”
Lakewood coach Pat Ancil says. “It’s a different level and a different set of ideas and we blended those ideas and concepts with the ones we (had in place).
“The most thrilling part about it is that four of the five are returning underclassmen,” Ancil says. “It definitely bodes well for the future of the program. We had 36 kids active until districts. The depth is there.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected]