LAKELAND -- The last two Manatee County wrestlers left standing Saturday at The Lakeland Center had plenty in common.
They made history for their respective programs. They dominated most of their opponents.
Unfortunately, Manatee's Jesse Fulk and Lakewood Ranch's Hunter Reed ran into top-ranked, undefeated opponents during their final bouts of the state wrestling tournament.
The most important common thread, however, is both get another crack at it next year.
Reed, a freshman, took second in Class 2A at 106 pounds. Fulk, a junior, also took second, but in Class 3A at 160 pounds.
It wasn't the result either was looking for. But it also wasn't indicative of each wrestler's season.
A week after finishing fourth at the Region 2 meet, Reed became the first Mustang to make a state final by scoring a major decision in the quarterfinals and a second-period pin of Tampa Jesuit's Jarrett Roop in the semifinals.
Reed's run ended, however, in the finals, where he was pinned in 48 seconds by Brandon's Frankie Bruno. Ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 106, Bruno finished 51-0.
"I wrestled him earlier in the season. ... He ended up pinning me," said Reed, who
finished 48-7. "I'm pretty OK with it. Making second is still great for me."
Though he took multiple All-America honors while wrestling AAU, Reed didn't expect his season to last all the way into the final round of the season.
"I was thinking of at the beginning of the year that I'd try to make it to state," he said, "and see what happens then."
Reed will compete in national tournaments in Virginia Beach and Orlando during the offseason and said he hopes to grow stronger in preparation for 2014-15.
"I'll try to make it better for next year," he said.
Fulk put together the finest season of his prep career, establishing a Manatee single-season record with 59 victories. Of his four losses, three came to Kissimmee Osceola's Fox Baldwin, who ran his record to 49-0 when he pinned Fulk 4 minutes, 55 seconds, into their championship bout Saturday.
Ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, Baldwin, a junior, is now a four-time state champion. He won a Class 1A title as an eighth-grader while wrestling for Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
"I'm definitely improving," Fulk said. "But I'm looking to next year to get on top."
It was a breakthrough year for Fulk, who didn't make state as a freshman and didn't medal at state last year.
"Instead of going into every tournament nervous, I went into it (thinking), 'What's the worst that can happen?,'" he said. "If I go out there and wrestle my hardest ... ."
Fulk and Baldwin are good friends who have been wrestling each other since they were 5. And Fulk hopes to glean some knowledge from his longtime opponent.
"Wrestling a kid like Fox, where he's one of the best in the nation, you go out there and never be scared and try your hardest," he said. "I'll watch the videos and learn what he does, because obviously what he does works."
Joining Fulk on the medal stand was teammate and sophomore Tyrek Hoyte, who took sixth at 126 and finished 50-12.
Lakewood Ranch's Dylan Cameron, a sophomore, was fourth in Class 2A at 120 pounds. He finished 41-11.
"We've got four underclassmen up here, and they all scored points," Mustangs coach Pat Ancil said. "We're excited. The future is, I think, real good for Lakewood Ranch."
Palmetto's Anthony Viscomi took fifth at 126 pounds in Class 2A. The first medalist in program history, Viscomi capped his career with a 10-5 win over Jake Gillis of Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy to finish at 48-11.
"He deserves it. He's done everything we've asked," Tigers coach Bryan Wilkes said. "Some kids might cut corners; he didn't cut corners. He did everything we asked him to do. ... He's the face of Palmetto for right now until someone else comes along.
"It's a new sign we get to put in Palmetto's gym: state place-winner."
Bayshore's Petro Marin was a medalist at 1A, taking sixth at 182 pounds. A senior, Marin went 51-9 and notched his 100th career victory earlier this year.
Robert McLachlan nearly won Palmetto's second medal at 195 pounds but fell one win shy, as did teammate Chase Washington at 145.
Manatee sophomore Caleb Rudisill also come a win shy of medaling at 113.