Kissimmee -- Manatee and Lakewood Ranch came into this weekend's Class 3A-Region 3 wrestling tournament at Osceola High with their sights aimed high.
Their fortunes diverged almost immediately.
Hunter Reed, one of Lakewood Ranch's state hopefuls, was injured in his first match, forfeited his second and was done before Friday's action ended. By the end of the weekend, only one Mustang, senior Dylan Cameron (132 pounds), qualified for
next weekend's state tournament.
The Hurricanes, however, started Friday strongly, put three wrestlers into the finals and qualified five for states.
Junior Marshall Craig (113) produced the most dominating effort for Manatee. He pinned his way into the finals, scored a single-leg take down to go up 3-0 in the second period and rode out Yosbiel Garcia of Sarasota in the third to win the weight class title 4-0.
"It was the same game plan, what I was going to do, and I know how hard it is to go in (to states) as the No. 2 seed," Craig said. "You get the better draw as the No. 1, and that's what I wanted."
Junior Charles Small (145) reached the finals by scoring major decisions or tech falls, and he shut out Tampa Riverview's Tony Hernandez 7-0 in the final. Small was a state qualifier in 2015 but as the No. 4 seed. He's much happier with where he'll be coming into states this year, but it's still strictly business.
"It's a change of scenery, but it's the same dog mentality, be tough on top and fast on the bottom," Small said.
Capping the Hurricanes' weekend was freshman Brandon Dossey (182), who outlasted Anthony Didden of Palm Harbor in the semifinals 8-3. Dossey pinned Sarasota's Steven Mercadante in the first 33 seconds of the championship match to earn his first region title.
Also qualifying for states for the Hurricanes were Matt McAleer (160) and Connor Morang (170). Both finished fourth in their weight classes.
As a team, Manatee finished third in the standings with 108 points. Osceola rolled to the title with 194.5 points while North Port (146.5) finished second.
For Lakewood Ranch, Cameron lost to Riverview's Tyler Forrest in the semifinals, but won twice in the wrestlebacks to finish third. By advancing to states for the third consecutive season, Cameron (68-5 this season) equals the school record, established by Blake Riley-Hawkins, who graduated in 2013. Riley-Hawkins had qualified in 2011, '12 and '13.
Three other Mustangs fell one win shy of advancing to states: Jake Seaman (106), Tim Dwyer (138), Chase Sharp (195). All three finished 3-2 for the weekend.