A little more than a week before Sebring hosts the Spiegel Wrestling Tournament, the Blue Streaks took on Avon Park in a dual meet on Thursday night.
Avon Park built an insurmountable 37-10 lead after the first nine matches before Sebring won the last four, but the Red Devils held on for a hard-fought 37-34 team victory.
Both head coaches knew that it would come down to a couple of key matches in deciding which squad won or lost and they moved wrestlers in an attempt to gain the advantage.
"I thought that's what it would come down to," said Avon Park Wrestling Coach Blake Germaine. "I knew there would be a couple of swing matches in there. When I sat down and looked at both of the lineups, I knew it was going to be real close."
The Blue Streaks continue to show improvement with each match.
"We had a couple of close matches and those are the ones you want," said Sebring Wrestling Coach Josh Miller. "The thing about us and Avon Park is that our best kids are in different weight classes but some of them were close."
The 195 pounders started the night and Avon Park's Delroy Blake opened the meet with a first-round pin over Sebring's Joshua Ladd to put Avon Park up 6-0.
Avon Park's Dylan Brown followed that with an 11-1 win over Brandon Fuller to give the Red Devils four more points and a 10-0 team lead.
Louis Sanchez put Sebring on the board with a pin fall in the heavyweight match that tightened the overall score to 10-6.
That was followed by a 14-3 win by Brendan Doty over Avon Park's Kenneth Egan to knot the overall score at 10.
Both teams forfeited the 113-pound match and Sebring forfeited the 120-pound division to put the Red Devils up 16-10.
Then came the match that likely decided the meet. Avon Park moved Dre Neely, their 113-pound wrestler, to the 126-pound match. Sebring moved their 120 pounder, Nathan Franklin, to 126 pounds to face Neely and forfeit the 120 match.
Neely scored two points in the first and second rounds to take a 4-0 lead. He held on to the lead until the closing seconds when Franklin was able get out of Neely's hold to take control.
Franklin was able to get Neely on his back, with his legs in the air, but was unable to get the pin fall before the final buzzer and Neely won the match 4-3. That put the Red Devils up 19-10.
Avon Park followed that key win with three consecutive pin falls to increase its lead to 37-10, which at that time made it impossible for Sebring to win with only four matches left.
The Blue Streaks battled back as they won the final four matches of the meet by pin to make the final score 37-34.
"Dre Neely came up with a huge win for us at 126," Germaine said. "He is our 113 pounder and he bumped up all the way to 126 and they bumped their 120 guy who is ranked in state up to 126 to try to catch us there. Dre did a great job to pull out the victory."
Miller stated that it is always fun to get the kids hyped up and aggressive.
"They finally got ready for Avon Park," said Miller. "They've been kind of lethargic in the past against Avon Park because they're friends. They ride buses together and hang out at tournaments.
"My kids have a hard time getting pumped up for this match so I was proud of them for being a little bit more prepared and not just being buddy-buddy with the guy they are facing."
Avon Park will travel to Frostproof on Thursday. The Red Devils and Sebring will participate in the Spiegel Wrestling Tournament at Sebring on Jan. 12. The Polk County Invitational is on Jan. 26.