Charlotte won the 12th annual Tiger Duals for the eighth time Saturday and host Palmetto fell short in its quest to place among the top three, losing to Pinellas Park 45-36 to finish fourth.
Trailing 42-36 heading into the final match, the Tigers had a shot at forcing overtime against the Patriots, but needing a pin to set up that scenario Jordan Holbrook lost 5-2 to Pinellas Park’s William Laporte in the 126-pound weight class.
“The matches really count in February,” Palmetto coach Bryan Wilkes said. “Of course you want to win now, but I’m excited about the team. “We’re young (the Tigers start four freshmen), and we’ve got two seniors.”
The Tiger Duals, which began when Wilkes started up the wrestling program at Palmetto in 2005, started as a six-team competition and has steadily grown over the years. This season, a record-16 teams competed, two more than last year and four more than the year before.
Wilkes mentioned that 12 teams were turned down this season and next year’s event could be relocated to the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
“It’s a great tournament, and we had some good talent,” said Wilkes, who previously coached at Bradenton Southeast (his alma mater where he was a two-time district champion and two-time state qualifier before graduating in 1980) and Crystal River in Citrus County. “I think it’s a smoothly run tournament. We get the same coaches coming back year-after-year, so we do something right.”
Charlotte defeated Riverview, of eastern Hillsborough County, 53-27 for the championship. Both teams entered that round with matching 4-0 records.
The event featured 23 wrestlers who earned medals for going unbeaten with no team having more than Charlotte’s eight. That group included: Donnie Cataldi (113-pound class), Vincent Grimaldi (120), Lucas Willis (132), Cody Rice (138), Bryce Peterson (145), Anthony Cavanaugh (152), Yvens Candio (160) and Jose Valez (182).
Not surprisingly, runner-up Riverview was next on the list of undefeated wrestlers with four: Lane Keck (106), Andy Hernandez (170), Logan Malouff (195) and Evan Akel (285). Sebring had a trio that did lost lose a match in Danny Cartoso (126), Michael Brod (160) and Philip Sapp (170).
Palmetto and Lakewood Ranch each had a pair of unbeatens: Brendan Valley (145) and Andrew Duncan (220) for the Tigers, along with the Mustangs’ Chase Sharp (220) and A.J. Henry (285).
Rounding out the wrestlers who did not lose a match were: Bradenton Christian’s Leo Campbell (195), Braden River’s Brandon Tackett (106), Sarasota Booker’s Dakari Rivers (113) and Kissimmee Osceola’s Dom Molfelas (152).