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Ranch's Myers heads to state finals

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 17, 2010
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — As soon as the final whistle blew, Mike Myers ran off the mat at a loss for words.
The Lakewood Ranch senior catapulted himself into the arms of his coach Pat Ancil.

“I was so happy for Michael,” Ancil said. “After he had his hand raised, he ran and jumped into my arms, and I carried him off the mats. This is only his second year wrestling, and to advance to the state tournament means he is one of the top 16 kids in the state of Florida at 160 pounds in class 2A.”

It was in that moment that the realization finally sunk in — he was going to the Class 2A wrestling state finals. Myers secured himself a spot in the state finals at 160 pounds after posting a 5-1 record at the Class 2A-Region 3 tournament Feb. 12-13 in Charlotte. Myers will compete in his first state tournament Feb. 19-20 in Lakeland.

Myers began the regional tournament with an easy win. But rather than stepping up his intensity, Myers said he became sloppy to some degree, underestimating his competition and losing his second match. At that point, Myers realized he needed to win his four remaining matches to advance to the state finals.

“In the beginning of the tournament, the first guy was fairly, easy and I think I kind of took that (for granted) and in the second match I kind of got lazy,” Myers said. “After I lost that one, I spent the whole rest of meet trying to figure out how I could stay in it. I was always watching the other wrestlers to see what I needed to do to go to states.”

The following day, Myers won all three of his matches — the last of which came in the final seconds. Myers finished third in his weight class to advance to the state finals for the first time.

But rather than celebrating his accomplishment, Myers made his way into the stands to watch Kyle Riley-Hawkins — his teammate and last year’s lone state qualifier —compete in 189 pounds. Hawkins, who Myers had spent all season working with, failed to qualify after losing his final match in overtime.

“It was terrible to watch him lose after I won,” Myers said. “I always thought Kyle and I would go to (states) together my senior year, so that was heartbreaking right there.”

The Mustangs finished 14th at the regional tournament with Evan Dipsner (103), Nick Schilson (140) and Hawkins all advancing to the consolation semifinals, falling short of qualifying for the state finals by one match. Jacob Goodwin (171) and Peter Latham (215) also competed.

“The competition at this year’s tournament was a step up from last year,” Ancil said. “Although we finished in the middle of the pack as a team, I couldn’t be more proud as to how our kids wrestled.”

With the help of Hawkins and his coaches, Myers has spent the past week in the wrestling room preparing for what will be the final wrestling tournament of his high school career, focusing on technique, maintaining a proper mindset, eating right and hard work.

Now, Myers is hoping his hard work will land him a spot on the podium.

“This is my first state meet, but it’s also my last state meet,” Myers said. “I would like to try and be on the podium. I just can’t be lazy any day this week. It’ my last week, so I don’t want to hold anything back.”

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].


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