WINTER GARDEN — Stepping onto the mat for the final match of the night, Ishmael Hollis knew exactly what was at stake.
The West Orange senior and his Warrior teammates were neck-and-neck with Apopka at the Metro West Conference Championships, and the winner of the match between Hollis and Apopka's Marvin Woods would also bring home a conference championship for his team.
Hollis did just that, pinning Woods and helping secure a come-from-behind victory for the Warriors, who had trailed the Blue Darters throughout the semifinals and finals leading up to that point.
"I knew had to get a pin," Hollis said. "I wanted to make a statement. ... It felt good all the way around."
For head coach Kristen Iannuzzi, it was an exciting finish that was reminiscent of what West Orange went through just weeks earlier at the Michael P. Hutchins Tournament. To have Hollis, a first-year wrestler who came out for the program as a senior, score a big win in a pressure-packed situation, is something the veteran coach says speaks volumes about the young man.
"We did this a couple weeks ago at Bishop Moore," Iannuzzi said. "It's a tenacity — (Hollis has) got the wrestler-mindset, for sure, and he's a fighter."
West Orange placed first with 175.5 points, topping Apopka's 171. In third place was Edgewater, with 151.5. In fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively, was Dr. Phillips (98.5), Ocoee (96) and Olympia (92.5). Evans (61) and Wekiva (22) rounded out the eight-team field.
Even though district tournaments and the road to state still lie ahead, the Warriors celebrated their championships and, as Iannuzzi tells it, there's plenty of value when you all the neighborhood programs west of Interstate 4 get together under one roof.
"It means a lot," Iannuzzi said. "This is who you're closest with and this is who you see all the time ... it's that last thing before what really matters."
Dr. Phillips senior Dylan Meeks was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler and won his final in 46 seconds.
Other results (only wrestlers from coverage area listed):
Champions: Brian Draper, Oly. (106 lbs.); Andreas Sabates, WO (120 lbs.); Tyler Ingle, Oly. (152 lbs.); George Schanck, Oc. (170 lbs.); Chris Briscoe, WO (182 lbs.); Jules Joseph, Oc. (195 lbs.); Dylan Meeks, DP (220 lbs.); Ishmael Hollis, WO (Heavyweight)
Runner-ups: Orlando Carillo, WO (106 lbs.); Jamel Clue, DP (120 lbs.); Rakeem Gordon, Oc. (126 lbs.); Jeff Noel, DP (132 lbs.); Terell Wallace, WO (138 lbs.); Matt Mora, WO (145 lbs.); Heresh Maharaj, Oc. (160 lbs.); David Hellinger, DP (182 lbs.); Brandon Rodriguez, Oly. (195 lbs.)
Third-placers: Roberto Koncz, WO (113 lbs.); Charles Tillery, WO (126 lbs.); Kade Randall, WO (132 lbs.); Kai Do, DP (138 lbs.); Logan Keopal, WO (152 lbs.); Doug Howard, Oly. (160 lbs.); Roy Mooney, WO (195 lbs.); Tajh Glemaud, DP (Heavyweight)