Kevin Schneider knew what he had to do before he stepped foot on the mat early Saturday afternoon.
So did everyone else.
Schneider, who wrestles at 120 pounds for Palmetto High School, was in the last individual match of the Tigers’ semifinal against Riverview, and the Tigers trailed by five points. Only a pin or technical fall could send the Tigers into the final of the 11th annual Tiger Duals against Charlotte High School, which had rolled past George Jenkins 62-9 in the other semfinal.
“He has won a bunch of matches (he is 15-3), so we knew he would do well in the match,” Palmetto coach Bryan Wilkes said. “But (Riverview) knew we needed a pin, so there are strategies you can use to try and prevent it. But Kevin went at (the match) very aggressively and just overwhelmed the kid.”
Schneider earned the needed pin in 1 minute, 38 seconds, giving Palmetto a 34-33 victory.
The emotion and momentum couldn’t help the Tigers against Charlotte, which won the final 48-12 and, with it, the team title. Palmetto finished second. Riverview and George Jenkins rounded out the top four.
The 14 teams were divided into four pools with each undefeated pool champion advancing to the semifinals.
Palmetto advanced out of its pool by beating South Fort Myers 84-0 and Lennard 66-12. The Tigers then beat George Jenkins 60-24. That set the stage for the semifinal showdown against Riverview.
Leading the way for Palmetto were Caden Bryan and Jesse Mercer, who split time at 126 during the weekend and combined to go 5-0. Dominic Bass went 4-1 in the 152-pound weight class. His lone loss came in the final against Charlotte.
“He is our returning state qualifier, and he had a very strong showing, beating two state qualifiers (from last year) during the day,” Wilkes said. “He was winning the final match, but got caught in a weird predicament he couldn’t get out of and ended up on his back.”
Southeast’s Darrien Grant (220 pounds) and Braden River’s Chance Sharbono (138) were named the tournament’s outstanding wrestlers.
Ed Kilpatrick Invitational: Jake Manning earned his first tournament title, winning the 106-pound weight class to lead Saint Stephen’s at Citrus High School in Inverness. Manning went 5-0 in the weekend competition, which featured 17 teams and individuals from other schools.
Saint Stephen’s had only four wrestlers compete, but all four placed. Alan Morano (120) and Jake Ross (160) finished second in their weight classes. Parker Lansberg (170) took fourth in his.
The Falcons return to action in the Lemon Bay tournament on Saturday.