The Sun's 2013 Co-Wrestlers of the Year
Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.
This is the second in a series of The Sun's winter athletes of the year and all-area teams chosen with the help of area coaches.
DEONTRAE NEAL, BUCHHOLZ
The 6-foot-1, 285-pound Neal advanced to the Class 3A state finals in just his second season wrestling for Buchholz. Neal compiled a 43-5 record as a heavyweight in his senior year and had just six takedowns scored against him this season, according to Bobcats coach Billy Pankey. After winning city, District 1 and Region 1 titles, Neal reeled off three straight wins in his first trip to Lakeland for the state tournament. In the championship match with South Broward's Kevin Jacques, Neal lost a 6-2 decision that went down to the final 30 seconds.
“It was magical in the sense that it was our goal all year was to get in the state tournament,” Pankey said. “The best part is sometimes kids just get satisfied with that, and Deontrae was really hungry, not just to be there, but to place.”
Neal, who was also a Sun All-Area selection as a defensive tackle this year, said joining the Buchholz wrestling team made him a tougher football player and improved his footwork in the trenches. After a senior season featuring 65 tackles and 9.5 sacks with the Bobcats, Neal signed with Division II Mars Hill College in North Carolina on Feb. 6.
“After I lost the match to go to state last year I was disappointed in myself, because I felt like I could have won. But then I was like, ‘OK fine, I'm ready to get the offseason started and I'm ready to get better. That way when I get back to this stage I won't have this feeling again.'” —Deontrae Neal
COLE SCHREIBER, COLUMBIA
A state qualifier competing at 103 pounds and 106 pounds in each of his first three seasons at Columbia, Schreiber enjoyed a banner year for the Tigers after moving up to the 113-pound weight class as a senior. As the Class 2A state runner-up, Schreiber won 36 matches this season, including 25 by pin, while only losing five times. A single-sport athlete, Schreiber has been wrestling year-round since the eighth grade and earned four district titles along with three regional championships in his high school career. After claiming the District 2 and Region 1 titles this season, Schreiber defeated three opponents in the state tournament, including consecutive 7-6 decisions in the quarterfinals and semifinals, before losing a 3-2 heartbreaker in the final to two-time champion Donoven Hough of Seffner Armwood.
“It was my goal the whole year,” Schreiber said. “I wanted to make it to the finals. The best match was the semifinals. It was the best I've felt in a long time.”
While Schreiber said he has looked at colleges with wrestling teams, his primary goal after high school is to attend the University of Florida and study mechanical engineering. Among the top of his class with a 3.92 GPA, Schreiber has already completed half of his Associate of Arts degree through dual enrollment.
“This year I really didn't have anything to lose, so I just went out there and wrestled. Stayed loose. I placed sixth my 10th-grade year and third my 11th-grade year. This year, I just wanted to place higher than that with me getting to the finals.” — Cole Schreiber