Wrestling | Viscomi leads four-Tiger contingent for Palmetto at state

Palmetto sends program-best four wrestlers to state

jdill@bradenton.comFebruary 14, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Anthony Viscomi didn't make the state wrestling tournament during his freshman or sophomore years at Palmetto.

So the 126-pounder entered last week's Class 2A-Region 3 meet with a new mindset.

"I just kept it in my head that it's a normal match," Viscomi said. "So just go out there and wrestle. And I think that's been my recipe for the entire season, keeping calm on the mat."

It worked. Viscomi garnered a second-place finish to cap a successful region tournament for the Tigers, who are sending four wrestlers to Lakeland on Friday for the state tournament.

Joining Viscomi are seniors Tyler Williford (152 pounds) and Nathan Callihan (145) and sophomore Robert McLachlan (195).

They are the most representatives at the state meet in Palmetto's eight-year wrestling history.

Head coach Bryan Wilkes said the secret to the Tigers' success this year has been the expectations at the school.

"These guys put in a bunch of mat time," Wilkes said. "They're tired; I mean they worked hard. They've got black eyes. They've got cut faces and all that, which you want a wrestler to have at this time."

Leading the charge this past week at Punta Gorda Charlotte was Viscomi, who improved to 45-8. His runner-up finish was the best among Palmetto grapplers.

"He's a fun guy to watch wrestle, because he's not a strong kid," Wilkes said. "He's got some technique, but he has that, as the Marine Corps calls it, 'Can do attitude.'"

That was displayed in the semifinals against Fort Myers Riverdale's Trenton Swanson. Viscomi entered the final period clinging to a 3-2 lead. Riverdale finished third in the state last year.

"A lot of pressure," Wilkes said. "... He's got to ride the guy for two minutes. One of the best kids in the state, he has to ride. And he does it. Now nerve-wracking on parents, but it was fun to watch. He doesn't have any quit in him. And he believes, you can see that he believes he can beat anybody in the state."

Williford estimated he competed in more than 150 offseason matches. That effort was aimed at getting him to the state meet after he fell just short in 2012.

"I was at camps all summer," said Williford, who placed third in the region. "... I never took a break after we got done last year."

Now the pair gets to share in the joy of making the state meet with fellow qualifiers Callihan and McLachlan as well as other wrestlers in the program who are continuing to work hard in practice this week with hopes of making it to state next year.

"Just because you aren't going to state, you are going to state because you've helped push these other guys," Wilkes said. "It's real important for our program, because we lose wrestlers that live in Palmetto that go to other schools. We don't like that. We want these kids to come to Palmetto. And now they see we have success, we have hard workers and, more importantly, our kids are great kids."

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