Buswell finished on the podium despite early-season weight struggles.
Seabreeze junior Braden “The Bull” Buswell won just 13 matches his freshman season. Last year, he reached 25 wins, but this season he eclipsed 30 (32 total wins) victories on his way to a fifth-place podium finish in the 220-pound division of the Florida High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 4, at Silver Spurs Arena.
“This really means a lot for me,” Buswell said. “The first goal was to make it to state, so to place fifth and to beat the kid that beat me at regionals was even better.”
Buswell avenged his regional loss to Lake Weir's Kelton Wilemon by beating him 4-3 in the fifth-place match this past weekend.
Seabreeze head wrestling coach Paul Schuler called it. He guaranteed his first state qualifier would medal (finish in the Top 6), and he was more than proud of Buswell’s accomplishment.
“I am absolutely impressed with his performance this weekend,” Schuler said. “He had a hard three weekends from the district to the state tournament, and he just wrestled his heart out.”
Buswell wrestled at 195 pounds last season. During the summer, he spent little time training for wrestling and most of the hot months prepping for football season. Because he played on the defensive line, Braden was encouraged to eat peanut butter and
drink protein shakes. He got up to 226 pounds.
When football season ended, he vigorously worked to remain in the same weight division, sometimes eating only a chicken breast for the day. He trimmed down to 202 pounds but gained six more during winter break. That’s when he decided to wrestle in the 220-pound division.
“The beginning of the season was grueling,” Buswell said. “My focus was always on weight, not getting any better.”
Buswell’s father, Steve, knew Braden was facing an uphill battle, if he wanted to end the season on the state podium with his weight issues.
“Honestly I was a bit skeptical at first,” he said. “The original plan was to cut to 195, which was a task in itself. When Braden decided to stay at 220 for the season, his weight stabilized at 210, and his energy level increased. Then, after watching him wrestle at the Flagler Rotary Tournament, I felt he had a shot to compete. Each week he seemed to get more comfortable, and he finally peaked at state."
Despite those early weight issues, Buswell finished in the Top 5. Now, knowing what it takes to get the coveted center position at the very top of the podium, Buswell is all the more motivated to get to work.
“Everything has to be nonstop from here,” he said. “There’s no sitting back and vacationing. I made that mistake and still got fifth. My goal as a freshman was to place at state. But, going into next year, I don’t see why I can’t finish as the champion.”