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Lake Gibson's Colt Brown wrestles into Knockout Christmas Classic

Senior Lake Gibson wrestler Colt Brown attempts to pin an opponent in the county duals on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Mulberry High School.
Senior Lake Gibson wrestler Colt Brown attempts to pin an opponent in the county duals on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Mulberry High School.

Colt Brown showed dominance in the Polk County Duals on Saturday at Mulberry High School. All night, his goal was to try to keep his hips away from his foes and to keep the fight on the mat.

He did exactly that, going 8-0 ― his third time in his high school career at the duals — helping Lake Gibson win the county duals once more. The Braves have won the county meet 16 out of the past 18 years. George Jenkins, Avon Park and Lakeland rounded out the top four in 2022. Auburndale registered eighth.

Brown said the feeling of him dominating the county duals reminded him of what his dad did. Lake Wales’ Christopher Brown was a state runner-up in 1997.

“It feels pretty good. My dad was a wrestler ― he wrestled at Polk County, too,” Brown said. “I guess I kind of expected to go 8-0 because I trained for a lot harder tournaments than that. I was kind of looking past this tournament and looking for and trying to focus on this upcoming week for the Christmas Knockout.”

The Christmas Knockout Classic is one of the biggest wrestling tournaments in the country. It’s slated for 8 a.m., Thursday at the Silver Spurs Arena.

Last year, Brown took fourth in the tourney, and Lake Gibson as a team placed third. So, for Brown, it’s all about getting incrementally better for himself and the team in the biggest wrestling tournament in the Southeast.

“This is the toughest tournament in the Southeast by far in my opinion,” Brown said. “Throughout the Southeast states, this is where everybody comes to and everybody sees who’s the best in the Southeast.”

Brown is pulling out all the stops to make sure he stands out among the rest. Last year, he wrestled at 106 and ended with a 51-13 record. This year, he is up to 126, which helps him push the pace a whole lot more. His style of wrestling is different, yet he is able to control the matches much more this year.

“I think I’m (going to) see success with that,” Brown said. “I’m wrestling at a much healthier weight class. … I’ll be able to eat and drink and I won't have to worry about my weight.”

Brown said with the lineup Lake Gibson has this year, it made sense for him to bump up to 126. Mulberry all-county transfer Jonathan Espinosa (106) is now on the Lake Gibson roster.

In order for Brown to make weight, the senior had to train laboriously.

“It was a whole lot of … lifting weights and trying to eat more and eating the right thing. (I wanted to) focus on sustaining in the gym and staying in the wrestling room were the two biggest things.”

While Brown has the confidence in himself to stand tall among his competition in the Christmas classic — his second time competing in the tourney ― the former George Jenkins wrestler also believes in his team to come out on top to help the Braves win a second Knockout Christmas Classic. If Lake Gibson places in the top five, it'll be the fifth time in history the program accomplished this feat.

“At Christmas Knockout, I honestly think we can bring home the team title and with states, I think we can bring home a team title,” Brown said. “…I’ve just been trying to practice doing what I do best and doing as well as I can, so I can use that to my advantage…”

This is an early senior development step for Brown (13-3). His bigger goals include winning a state title, as last year he finished sixth in state.

“I’m very excited. I get to see what all the training is going to do for me (and) see how well it’s going to pay off,” Brown said.”

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Brown perfects county duals, readies for Knockout Christmas Classic