Inspired by several individual efforts Saturday, the Ida Baker Bulldogs rose to the challenge to capture the overall team championship in the Best of the West wrestling tournament at Cape Coral High.
The Bulldogs won duels over North Fort Myers (63-12), Island Coast (48-36), Cape Coral (45-39) and Mariner (42-27) to go undefeated into the winner's circle.
"We are coming off our high today going into the holiday break," said Bulldogs coach Fernando Vazquez. "I think the kids see their potential now. We will only lose three seniors off this team, really only one that is in the lineup."
Brandon Gacad, who took second in the state last season at 112 pounds, was one of four Bulldogs to go unbeaten Saturday. He won all four of his matches at 126 pounds and improved to 7-0 on the season.
"Brandon has yet to give up any points this year and no takedowns," said Vazquez. "He has won all of his matches by pin or tech falls."
Daniel Murillo (120), Tyler Iverson (182) and Regie Meant (heavyweight) also had perfect days at 4-0.
In addition, three Bulldogs only went 1-3 on the day, obtaining their only victory in the final match against Mariner - Jeremy Rodriguez (132), Cal Ricken (152) and Wilfred Dillard (160).
"They definitely helped us to win the championship," said Vazquez. "It was their mental mindset. I wasn't sure (Dillard) could go. He was battling bruised ribs, but he stepped up and wanted to wrestle. It was huge and gave us the championship by pinning the Mariner kid. Our team was impressed and I think they all bought into it."
Another injured Bulldog, Devin Dilbeck (138), fought his way through after missing a week of practice, going 3-1 Saturday.
"He had big wins for us against North and Island Coast. He gave all he had," said Vazquez. "He has been our most consistent wrestler overall this season besides Brandon Gacad."
Vazquez also got the most out of freshman Korynna Gacad, Brandon's sister, who wrestled at 103 pounds. She won her first three matches by forfeit, but then stunned everyone by winning her only bout against Mariner.
"She held her own, for a female in that environment against a male wrestler," said Vazquez.
Mariner finished second in the team standings behind Baker, which does not have another match until January.