Three seconds now seems like a lifetime to Leon junior wrestler Gabe Beyer.
Last Saturday in Kissimmee, Beyer was in the FHSAA Class 2A state finals for his 285-pound weight class and had Riverdale sophomore Cole Schneider on the mat.
But with three seconds left, Schneider, who had been taken down with seconds remaining late in the match, slipped away from Beyer’s literal grasp to win.
Schneider earned an escape and a point for a 7-6 victory and the state title, while the favored Beyer was left to think about what could have been.
“It was tough, but it just means I have to work a lot harder this summer to be back there again next year,” said Beyer, who was 33-0 entering the title match.. “It was tough knowing I could have done something else to probably stop it and it would have gone to overtime. Just that last second slip and he got away.”
Beyer was down 6-2 in the third period but battled back to tie it at six points each. And then Schneider worked an escape and stood up to earn the defining point of the match.
“Gabe wrestled hard and kept pushing,” Lions coach Chuck Ringel said. “It was a tough match, but the good news is he’s a junior. I think if we wrestle him (Schneider) again we win. We have another year. We’ll refocus, work hard, and keep going.”
Beyer’s revenge tour starts immediately. He’s heading to a Florida All-star Classic this weekend where he hopes to see Schneider again and immediately remove some of his bad feelings. After that, he plans to use the summer the way he did the summer of 2014, when success and an All-American honor from the Disney Duals catalyzed this past high school season.
“I’ve been recently talking a lot to Arizona State about wrestling,” said Beyer, who was a first-team All-Big Bend offensive lineman for Leon this past football season. “There’s bit more interest in wrestling for college than just football now.”
Leon senior Joey Grant finished in fifth-place for 182 pounds by winning his first two matches before losing to eventual and now two-time state champion Sawyer Root of Harmony. At the 4:30 mark of the third period, Root pinned Grant, which was the same way Grant advanced out of his first two matches.
By way of Beyer’s state runner-up, Grant’s wins and the wrestling of Joey Grant’s freshmen brothers Justin and J.T., the Lions finished 12th out of 67 qualifying teams with 40.5 points.
“Gabe and the three Grants continued to battle and never gave up,” Ringel said. “Justin Grant lost in overtime. Joey came back and finished his season with a win and placed fifth. J.T. wrestled tough. They’re good kids, they wrestled hard and they worked hard. They’re fun to coach. That’s all you can really ask for.”
Lincoln senior wrestlers Damian Loggins (285), Jason Osagie (220), Jaycie Rudd (160) and Jacob Geiger (113) all won their respective first-round matches before bowing out. The Trojans finished in 40th place with 11 points. Chiles’ Winslow Robinson earned a first-round win at 132 and garnered all five points in the Timberwolves’ 47th-place result.
In the 1A state tournament, Wakulla finished 12th out of 70 teams with a 36-point total. Godby was 36th with 13 points and Florida High 59th with three points.
War Eagles wrestlers Larry Smith (113), Dy’Juan Carney (126) Chris Surace (160) and Cody Ochat (195), along with Godby senior James Livingston (285), all won first-round matches.
Carney finished in sixth-place by winning two more matches in the consolation bracket. Livingston captured fifth by winning three more matches after his first loss, including a 5-3 decision in the fifth-place match.
“James is a great kid, and being able to come back from a triple overtime loss and turn around and immediately get ready for his next match just shows how tough he is and his level of commitment to succeeding and being the best he could be,” first-year Godby wrestling coach Richard Guye said.
“It was great coaching him all year. He was a great inspiration for our team, myself and the other coaches. Being a coach in his first year, I couldn’t have asked for a better guy to set the standard for what the team is trying to become in the future of Godby wrestling.”
2015 FHSAA Wrestling State Finals
Class 2A 285: Gabe Beyer, Leon
Class 2A 185: Joey Grant, Leon
Class 1A 285: James Livingston, Godby
Class 2A 195: Cody Ochat, Wakulla
Class 1A 126: Dy’Juan Carney, Wakulla
Other state qualifiers
2A 113: Jacob Geiger, Lincoln; 1A 113: Larry Smith, Wakulla; 1A 120: Max Metcalf, Florida High; Rolin Malik, Wakulla; 1A 126: Jemel Fanfan, Florida High; 2A 132: Winslow Robinson, Chiles; 1A 132: Max Harris, Florida High; Max Owen, Wakulla; 1A 138: Hunter Royce, Wakulla; 1A 145: Cody Davis, Wakulla; 2A 152: Justin Grant, Leon; 1A 152: Andrew Thaxton, Godby; Drew Hostetter, Florida High; 2A 160: Jaycie Rudd, Lincoln; 1A 160: Chris Surrace, Wakulla; Will Haigler, Florida High; 2A 182: Jerrin Gilmore, Lincoln; 1A 195: Cam Brown, Florida High; 2A 220: Jason Osagie, Lincoln; J.T. Grant, Leon; 2A 285: Damian Loggins, Lincoln; 1A 285: Devin Griffin, Wakulla