High School Sports

State wrestling | Manatee County advances three wrestlers into Saturday's state semifinals

KISSIMMEE -- Jesse Fulk was coasting along when his lifelong dream nearly evaporated.

After leading 5-0 in his 182 pound Class 3A State Tournament quarterfinal wrestling match, the Manatee High senior found himself in a 5-5 deadlock and heading into overtime, where anything can happen.

Fortunately, Fulk managed to pull himself together and eke out a 7-5 victory Friday over Adolfo Sotolongo from Miami Southwest to earn his way into Saturday's semifinals.

"When things go bad you get can't get emotional. It will cause you to lose focus and I couldn't give him anymore points," Fulk said. "I got sloppy (at the end) and he tied up the match. But In overtime I knew in my training throughout the year was physically harder than his and that helped me win.

"It was tough (when he came back), but I've learned if you get frustrated during a match you get sloppy and too emotional and make mistakes. It's a good feeling, but I have still have two more matches."

Fulk was one of three Manatee County wrestlers to advance into Saturday's semifinals. Joining him are Palmetto High junior Leonel Barboza in the Class 2A 152-pound division and Manatee's Caleb Rudisill in the 126-pound division.

Manatee head coach Andy Gugliemini wasn't surprised how Fulk (68-3), the top ranked wrestler in his weight class, pulled out the match -- or how Rudisill dominated his opponent.

"I was not worried, but concerned. You are winning 5-0 and dominating the number two-three ranked kid in the state and you pull him on top of you; and so he gave him the five points," Gugliemini said. "But he didn't quit and rode him out the entire third period, which was huge. Then he made a beautiful counter to the shot and a nice take down for two. He reaffirmed how we feel about him. He is a tough kid and didn't freak out. He stayed the course and won the match."

Rudisill pinned Anthony Codinach of Miami Columbus in 3:26 and needed only 48 seconds to pin Ivan Pena of Palm Beach Central in the quarterfinals to improve his record to 71-3.

"Caleb, that was nice. He used some technique he has had for awhile. It was there. It opened up and he went right to it. I was a nice cradle and now he has a date with the number one ranked kid in the state. Let's dance."

Barboza won both his matches by a 7-1 to improve his record to 43-7. He will have a tough match in the semifinals going up against top seed Troy Joyce (67-1) from Brandon.

"I got to be prepared for the number one guy in my weight class, but I am ready," Barboza said. "Today I just wanted to be aggressive. After seeing Chase (Washington) lose, I wrestled this match especially for him because we both worked so hard. Only thing that goes through my mind is that I can't lose. I worked too hard for this and there are too many people counting on me. The last thing I want to do is disappoint them."

Washington lost his quarterfinal 9-1 match to Andrew Smith of Springstead, but won his first match in the wrestlebacks.

"Barboza wrestles his own style. He stays in good position. He battles, he doesn't give up and when he is trouble he doesn't panic," Palmetto wrestling coach Bryan Wilkes said. "Chase lost and that's why they call this the state championships. Everyone is a possible state champion and the kid he lost to is probably that guy. Now everyone he has beaten has to wrestle (for third place)."

Lakewood Ranch's Hunter Reed, who came into the state with only one loss, dropped his quarterfinal round match 10-2 to Matt Landgraff of Springstead, but won his first match in the wrestlebacks by a 15-0 decision.

The Mustangs Dylan Cameron lost his second round match, but is still alive after winning his wrestleback match with a 9-1 decision over Daniel Caron.

Manatee's Tim Dinsdale lost his second match in a pin, but is still alive after winning his wrestleback match 5-0.

For the Hurricanes, Charles Small (132) and Marshall Craig (106) were eliminated after losing two out of three matches, and Matt McAleer (145) was eliminated after two matches.

Southeast senior Ricky Almodovar (160) won his wrestleback match after getting pinned in his second match. His teammates Stephen Kelle (170) and Darrien Grant were eliminated after losing two of three.