Buchholz's Neal falls short of state title


Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 12:10 a.m.

LAKELAND — For a college-bound defensive tackle who's only been wrestling for two years, being the state runner-up isn't too shabby.

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Deontrae Neal of Buchholz battles Kevin Jacques of South Broward in the 285-pound class at the 3A State Wrestling Championship at the Lakeland Center on Saturday. (Calvin Knight/Lakeland Ledger)

Buchholz heavyweight Deontrae Neal lost the Class 3A 285-pound state championship to South Broward's Kevin Jacques in a 6-2 decision — which came down to the final few seconds — at The Lakeland Center on Saturday.

“A couple of my friends told me it would be fun, so I just went out and tried,” said Neal, who signed to play for Mars Hill College in North Carolina last week.

Neal and coach Billy Pankey credit getting in mat time over the summer with helping him get to the state finals.

“He worked his (butt) off,” Pankey said of Neal, who won a regional title last week. “He went to camp this summer and had about 80 matches this summer.”

Earlier in the day, other Gainesville wrestlers were eliminated. For Gainesville High in Class 2A, Trae-von O'Neil (106) lost his bout with Olympic Heights' John Cleristor.

Regional champion Jon Gardner (120) fell to Master Academy's Wilmer Almendarez in a 7-5 decision. Matt Tamayo (132) lost to Bartow's Brian Pennington in a 6-0 decision.

Thomas Herlevich (145) lost to Palm Bay's Steven Vonniederhauser, and Wade Jones (170) lost to Land O'Lakes' Bobby Austin in an 8-4 decision.

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