Avon Park senior Delroy Blake showed great improvement each year and capped an outstanding high school wrestling career by placing second in the 195-pound weight class at the Class 1A state wrestling finals in Lakeland.
Blake, who started wrestling as a freshman and finished fourth at state last year, posted an impressive 52-2 record this season and was district and regional champion on his way to the state finals where he lost a controversial 2-1 decision.
"Delroy put in a lot of work to be as good as he is," said Avon Park wrestling coach Blake Germaine. "He has a great work ethic and is very coachable. "He has the talent to wrestle in college and some schools are looking at him.
"With the proper coaching and good workout partners, Delroy would be an excellent college wrestler."
For his ability and accomplishments, Blake has been selected as the Highlands Today 2014 All-Highlands Wrestler of the Year.
"It means a lot to win this award," said Blake. "I put in a lot of work over the last four years and it feels good to get something out of it.
"Wrestling isn't easy and I trained hard and worked out all the time to get stronger and better."
Finishing as a state runner-up and being on the podium at the state finals was a fitting climax for the Red Devil grappler.
"It meant a lot to me to be on the podium," Blake said. "It wasn't just me up there. It was my teammates and all the guys that worked out with me to help me improve, they were standing up there too."
Luis Sanchez, senior, Sebring - Sanchez went 39-8 at 285 pounds and was a state finals qualifier.
"Luis was the heart of our team," said Sebring wrestling coach Josh Miller. "He had great composure, was one match from being on the podium at the state finals and that's quite an accomplishment."
Kenny Egan, sophomore, Avon Park - Egan went 42-11 and won the district title at 106 pounds for the Red Devils. "Kenny really came on strong this year," said Germaine. "He was one match away from the state tournament and if he puts in the work during the summer he could be standing on the podium at the state finals next year."
Dalton Slade, freshman, Sebring - Slade went 18-15 at 126 pounds for the Blue Streaks.
"Dalton is our only freshman and had a solid season," said Miller. "He has a lot of potential."
Dre Neely, sophomore, Avon Park - Neely won district and regional championships while going 48-3 at 113 pounds for the Red Devils.
"Dre is a real competitor and has a very bright future," Germaine said.
Brandon Washburn, senior, Sebring - Washburn was a regional qualifier at 132 pounds.
"Brandon is one of the best take down artists on our team," said Miller. "He's dedicated and is a hard worker."
Junior Pontinela, freshman, Avon Park - Pontinela had a solid first year going 32-18 and winning the district title at 120 pounds.
"Junior had a great first year of wrestling," said the Red Devils coach. "We look for him to make it to state next year."
Dakota Slade, junior, Sebring - Slade posted a 32-14 record at 145 pounds and was a regional qualifier.
"Dakota was one match from state," said Miller. "He won some quality matches and I know he's going to be a state qualifier next year."
Christian Suarez, senior, Avon Park - Suarez went 23-7 and won the district championship at 152 pounds for the Red Devils.
"Christian missed some time due to injury this season and still was one match away from going to the state finals," Germaine said.
Jacob Figur, sophomore, Sebring - Figur went 13-10 and made it to regionals in the 160-pound weight class.
"Jacob had a good season and missed half the year because of a broken toe," Miller said. "I'm looking for him to turn the corner next year and he really impressed me."
Casey Ricker, senior, Sebring - Ricker was a team captain and went 36-5 while making it to the state finals at 170 pounds.
"Casey did a great job this year even though he missed some time because of an ankle injury," Miller said. "He's a great leader and I'm very proud of him."
Ty Johnson, senior, Sebring - Johnson was a regional qualifier at 182 pounds.
"Ty did a great job this year," said Miller. He was a co-captain and overcame some injuries to have a solid season."
Brandon Fuller, senior,Sebring - Fuller went 22-8 and was a regional qualifier at 220 pounds.
"Brandon had a great year," said Miller. "He became a more offensive wrestler toward the end of the season and beat some quality wrestlers."
Chris Garcia, sophomore, Avon Park - Garcia was a district champion at 160 pounds for the Red Devils.
"Chris worked hard to learn the fundamentals and beat a tough wrestler for the district title," Germaine said.
Nathaniel Acosta, junior, Sebring - Acosta was 25-9 at 152 pounds and made it to regional competition.
"Nathaniel has good technique and just needs to keep working hard to be a heck of wrestler next year," Miller said.
John Dor, sophomore, Avon Park - Dor claimed the district title at 182 pounds.
"John made the effort to get better," said Germaine. "If he puts in the work he could be tough next year."
Nestor Peralta, senior, Sebring - Peralta was 25-9 at 113 pounds for the Blue Streaks.
"Nestor worked hard to improve in every area," said Miller.
Jeremy Ethridge, junior, Avon Park - Ethridge competed in the 220-pound weight class for the Red Devils.
"This was Jeremy's first year wrestling and he showed great improvement from the beginning to the end of the season," Germaine said. "He was in a tough weight class and is only going to get better."
Austin Velasquez, junior, Avon Park - Velasquez gave solid effort at 145 pounds.
"Austin wrestled tough and fought off some injuries this year," the Red Devils coach said.
Nick Brod, senior, Sebring - Brod went 25-9 and overcame a broken wrist to have a good season.
"Nick came back from his injury and finished the season strong for us," the Blue Streaks coach said.
Anthony Schings, junior, Avon Park - Schings was very competitive at 138 pounds.
"Anthony fought through some injuries and placed at districts for us," Germaine said.
Coach of the Year
For leading his team to its third consecutive district title and developing Delroy Blake into a state runner-up, Avon Park's Blake Germaine has been selected as the Highlands Today 2014 All-Highlands Wrestling Coach of the Year.