BRADENTON -- Tyler Williford achieved one first this year when he became the first Palmetto wrestler to accept an athletic scholarship.
Now he wants to accomplish another and become the first Tiger to earn a medal at the state tournament.
Of course, he needs to get there first after he fell one match short of state last year.
But with the wrestling postseason a few weeks away, Williford was in fine form Thursday when he scored a second-period pin during Palmetto's 54-21 win over Southeast.
"I'm right there," said Williford, who pinned the Seminoles' Ricky Almodovar in three minutes, 31 seconds at 160 pounds. "I've had a few losses to some big guys in my weight class, but I'm right there where I need to be."
Wednesday's dual was wrestled in honor of Bob Thomas, who is retiring after coaching and teaching for more than 30 years at Southeast. Thomas coached the school's wrestling team from 1978-2010, and more than two dozen alumni, including Palmetto coach Bryan Wilkes, were on hand Wednesday.
Thomas announced the starting lineups and was honored with a plaque prior to the match, which was wrestled in Southeast's old gym, Seminole Alley.
"I've been at Southeast for five decades," Thomas told the crowd. "It's really, really been a great experience, and some of the greatest memories of my life happened where I'm standing right here."
Palmetto (22-3) controlled the match, recording five pins, including three in the first period.
Williford had to wait until the second period of his bout to run his record to 29-3.
"He's a lot better than he was last year, period," Wilkes said of Williford, who is headed to UNC-Pembroke in the fall. "He's beating guys that last year he would have gotten beaten by.
"Now is he a match closer (to reaching state)? We're going to know in about four weeks."
Aaron McDaniel (106), Anthony Viscomi (132), Chase Washington (138), David Henson (145) and Nathaniel Lopp (220) scored pins for Palmetto, which hosts its annual dual tournament Saturday.
Oscar Navarrete (120) scored a decision for Southeast (8-14) at 120, while Logan Beagle (152), David Hernandez (170) and Michael Quintero (heavyweight) had pins for the Seminoles.
Beagle and Quintero recorded first-period pins.