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Mustangs preach mental toughness

Lakewood wrestler’s willingness to prepare to win leads to third straight state tournament berth.

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  • | 5:50 a.m. March 2, 2016
Lakewood Ranch senior Dylan Cameron finished third in the 132-pound weight class at the Class 3A-Region 2 tournament Feb. 26 and Feb. 27. (courtesy photo)
Lakewood Ranch senior Dylan Cameron finished third in the 132-pound weight class at the Class 3A-Region 2 tournament Feb. 26 and Feb. 27. (courtesy photo)
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Every wall in the Lakewood Ranch wrestling room carries a message. 

From a list of state qualifiers to words of inspiration, such as perseverance, discipline and intensity, the Mustangs draw motivation from their surroundings.

But those who know senior Dylan Cameron must wonder whether he wrote those words.

Having spent considerable time the past 13 years on the mat, Cameron has learned to deal with the pressures of the sport. He knows all about motivating himself when his mind doesn't want to make practice the No. 1 priority.

When that happens, he can look up at one of the walls.

 “It’s not the willingness to win. It’s the willingness to prepare to win.” 

Cameron can relate.

“It’s been a part of my lifestyle since I was a little kid,” he said. “I like pushing myself to see what I can do. “Wrestling is one tough sport. It takes a lot out of you. You have to be ready to do it and be willing to give 100% every day.” 

His work ethic has earned him an outstanding senior year on the mat. Cameron will represent Lakewood Ranch at the Class 3A state tournament March 4 and March 5, at the Silver Spurs Arena, in Kissimmee. He has set a school record with 70 wins and counting.

It marks the eighth year in a row Lakewood Ranch has produced at least one state qualifier. The Mustangs might have had another, but Hunter Reed, the No. 2-ranked wrestling in the state with a 62-0 record at 120 pounds, failed to make weight at the Region 2 tourney.

Reed, who finished second in the state as a freshman (106 pounds) and third as a sophomore (113 pounds) will have to wait until next season. 

“Very sad,” coach Pat Ancil said of Reed. “He understands that he didn't take care of his responsibilities and discipline plays a key role in that. Hopefully Hunter takes this situation as a teachable lesson, and he bounces back to finish strong next year for his senior season." 

Fortunately for the Mustangs, Cameron took care of business.

The 132-pounder finished third at the Class 3A-Region 2 meet Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, at Osceola High, to earn a berth in the state tournament for his third-consecutive season. Cameron was knocked into wrestle-backs when he lost a 9-5 decision to Tampa Riverview's Kizhan Clarke, the eventual region runner-up who lost to Osceola's John Locksmith in the title match. Cameron then won his next two matches, with a victory over Melbourne's Joey Fletcher in the consolation finals. The top four finishers advance to the state tournament. 

Coming off two fourth-place finishes at the state meet, Cameron will be hard-pressed to better that finish. Cameron is ranked seventh in the state in Class 3A and will face Fleming Island's Xavier Sampsel in the first round. 

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Cameron said. “It would be easy to just stop, but that kind of ruins what I’ve been working for. That’s why I keep coming in and grinding.  I just want to finish my last few matches here on a good note.

"I just want to go out and do the best that I can for my last season here.” 




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