LAKELAND -- Moments after making Palmetto history, Anthony Viscomi could barely speak. And when he did, his patter was fast and his eyes bulged with excitement.
He struggled to sneak a word between every other breath.
Who could blame him?
A 126-pound senior, Viscomi became the Tigers' first state medalist when he defeated Homestead's Lucas Dominguez 5-2 in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A tournament. Medals are awarded to the top six finishers in each weight class.
Next up for Viscomi is Lakeland Lake Gibson's Sa'darian Perry. They meet in the semifinals Saturday.
"When I walked into the wrestling room for the first time freshman year ... of course, I thought I could make it to states," he said. "I never thought I'd become Palmetto's first state place-winner."
Wrestling resumes at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the third round of the consolation finals and the championship semifinals to follow.
Viscomi had etched his name into Palmetto wrestling lore even before his quarterfinal victory. He and 195-pounder Robert McLachlan are the first Tigers to qualify for the state tournament more than once.
His victory over Dominguez, however, was on another level for a school that didn't have a wrestling team prior to 2005.
"I really want to thank my coaches and my teammates, especially," Viscomi said after running his record 49-7. "I don't even have the words to say."
And Viscomi won't be the only Manatee County wrestler vying for a state title.
Manatee's string of medal-less seasons is over at two thanks to Tyrek Hoyte (126) and Jesse Fulk (160), who are in the semifinals in Class 3A.
A sophomore competing in his first state meet, Hoyte defeated Cypress Weston Bay's Tyler Sage 2-1 in overtime during the quarterfinals. He meets Fleming Island's Evan McCall, ranked second in the state, in the semifinals.
"Nice little surprise. When you wrestle tough, and you're fundamentally strong and you're athletic like that ... that's awesome," Manatee coach Andy Gugliemini said. "We told (Jesse) he had to wrestle nasty, and I think he did, and he's going to have to do it again (Saturday)."
Fulk joined brothers Andrew and Travis, who also placed during their careers at Manatee, when he defeated Orlando Edgewater's Jordan Manier 9-4. Fulk is 58-3 and holds Manatee's single-season wins record, which he can pad when he faces Cooper City's Eric Perez in the semis.
Fulk is ranked second in the state.
Not making the semifinals were Manatee's two regional champions: top-ranked Caleb Rudisill (113) and Dakoda Dossey (152).
Rudisill lost to Braddock's Nicholas Villamil in the quarterfinals but came back to defeat North Port's Alejandro Torres by injury default in the second round of the consolation bracket, putting the sophomore a win away from his first state medal.
"We came here to win it, but we can't do that now. The best we can do for Caleb Rudisill (on Saturday) is third place. He's got to readjust his goals," Gugliemini said. "The best he can do is third place, so let's do that."
Dossey, who began the tournament with 56 wins and was the Canes' lone senior qualifier, was eliminated after losing his first two matches.
"He's had an outstanding career. He's a regional champ forever," Gugliemini said. "It just didn't quite end the way he wanted it to. I don't think anybody's more disappointed than him. ... He'll always be one of the Manatee studs, for sure."
The cavernous Lakeland Center can be intimidating for most freshmen.
Lakewood Ranch's Hunter Reed is a little different. A nine-time AAU All-America, Reed has wrestled in arenas all over the country.
That's why it's not a complete surprise to see Reed (106) join teammate Dylan Cameron (120) in the semifinals of Class 2A after the first day of competition Friday.
Reed scored an 11-2 major decision over Lakeland Lake Gibson's Jonathan Quinones, who was ranked third in the state by Scout.com.
"Walking into here, I actually felt really comfortable," said Reed, who entered the tournament ranked seventh and faces Tampa Jesuit's Jarrett Roop, a fellow freshman who is unranked, in the semifinals. "Because I've been to so many, I felt like this was my normal (place)."
Cameron, a sophomore who scored the second of his two major decisions Friday against Niceville's Matthew Burger, meets Spring Hill Springstead's undefeated and top-ranked Michael McDonald.
Palmetto 145-pounder Chase Washington kept his medal chase alive by winning both consolation matches and can become the Tigers' second place-winner with a victory Saturday morning during the third round of the consolation bracket.
Bayshore's Petro Marin also remained alive by winning both consolation bouts and needs a victory to medal in Class 1A at 182 pounds.
Manatee's Alex Ginn, Bayshore's Anthony Slack, Lakewood Ranch's Jared Dipsiner, Palmetto's Robert McLachlan and Southeast's Ricky Almodovar and Kane Takacs each won a match before being eliminated Friday.
Bayshore's Nick Norton, Southeast's Joey Fazio, Lakewood Ranch's Tim Dwyer and Palmetto's James Banks lost their first two matches.