Missing several weight classes entering the Region 4-1A Duals, Key West High coach Chaz Jimenez knew he would have to be strategic for the Conchs to advance one round and have an opportunity to advance to the state finals. His maneuvering of the weight classes paid dividend as Key West topped Monsignor Pace 48-30 in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Jan. 13.

“We won where we needed to,” said Jimenez, whose team was eliminated by Mater Lakes, 70-10, in the semifinals.

In the quarterfinals against Pace, Key West was in a 12-0 disadvantage to begin the match with forfeits in the lightest two weight classes, which was followed by a pair of Conch losses to put them in a 24-0 to open to round.

That put Jimenez in strategy mode, knowing his squad was short-handed, the coach decided to double forfeit the 138-pound match and instead go for the victory with Jason Flynn wrestling up a class at 145 as well as Justin Tran also bumped up to 152.

“I was doing it all prematch in my head, how it was going to work out,” said Jimenez. “I knew if we each took a forfeit, it would just cancel each other out and that wouldn’t help us.”

The Conchs coach knew his team needed wins to mount the comeback, which is what they received from Flynn and Tran.

“That was an 18-point swing,” Jimenez said about the wins.

The match would be tied by the by the 182-pound bout, which again saw a Conch matsmen move up a class, this time Vlad Piari from 170 to 182, but this time it would prove too much for the Key West senior to overcome, meaning Key West needed to win the final three classes to advance.

The first two of those wrestlers for Key West would be moved up a weight, Josiah Sisco to 195 and Zach Lewicki to 220, at matches both would win, giving the Conchs the lead once again and River Cutino-Lyda secured the advantage closing out the dual with a victory in the heavyweight class.

In the match to go to states, Key West faced off against Mater Lakes, who is one of the favorites to win the championship.

“We knew what they were, a really great team,” said Jimenez. “They are a 6th-12th school, so a lot of those kids have been with them for several years and in every way they are very solid.”

Key West scored its points off Mater Lakes when Lewicki majored his opponent at 195 pounds at Sisco pinned his foe at 182.

“Zach was upset he didn’t get the pin, but the kid was running from him the entire way after Zach beat him up the last time they met,” said Jimenez.

Lewicki is now 21-0 on the season, a record that will be tested this weekend during the Battle at the Bay, a dual tournament hosted by Cypress Bay, as the Conchs continue the three-day road trip with a short-sided squad.

“It’s a tough tournament,” said Jimenez. “We will have nine matches this weekend, but we are going to focus on individual performances, and hope we win some matches along the way. This will be a good chance to get a lot of work in.”