PUNTA GORDA — After two high-impact individual tournaments on the road filled with fatigue and illness, the Charlotte High wrestling got back to having fun.
The Tarpons wrestled 28 bouts in the first two rounds of the Class 2A-Region 3 tournament Thursday evening at Wally Keller Gymnasium and came away with 21 pins, 1 technical fall, 1 decision and 1 forfeit.
Charlotte won both its matches easily, defeating Naples High, 74-3, in the first round and Braden River High, 66-14, in the second round.
The Tarpons earned a trip to the regional final against Tampa Jesuit on Jan. 21 at Osceola High School in Kissimmee. The state semifinals and finals will be wrestled on Jan. 22 in Kissimmee.
Charlotte took seventh out of 62 teams in the Knockout Christmas Classic just after Christmas in Kissimmee and first at the Cradle Cancer Invitational on Jan. 13 in Jensen Beach. Despite having 10 finishers among the top four, no Tarpon came away with an individual title, as they took seven seconds, two thirds and a fourth.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been very tight,” Charlotte coach Evan Robinson said. “We’ve had some sickness, and we were a little shellshocked. We had seven finalists and didn’t have a champ. That was rough. We crushed the competition, but that’s not the way you want to finish.”
Thursday, Camren French (106), Patrick Nolan (120), Andrew Austin (126), Derek Paull (132), Isaac Church (138), James Baltutis (152), Cael Newsom (195), Nathaniel Box (220) and Biaggio Frattarelli (285) all notched two falls. Jett McCauley (182) had a technical fall and a pin. Isaac Schaeffer (170) posted a decision and fall. Colton McCabe (160) had a pin.
“We’re having fun and wrestling,” Robinson said. “We’re loosening up and wrestling. We’re not as tight as we were the last couple of weeks. I like that. We made some big strides.”
Now they look to take another.
In the previous four years of the dual tournament, Charlotte lost in the regional final three times and the state final in 2019.
“We’re back in the state duals. I know these guys' objective is to win it all,” said Robinson, whose Tarpons won the individual team title a year ago, the third in program history. “We definitely have to take it one match at a time and get past Jesuit.”
Jesuit is ranked No. 1 in the state in some polls.
“It should be interesting Friday,” Robinson said. “They sure as heck have seven studs. We’re going to have to do something. Anything that goes wrong on either side is going to be a victory for the other side. I see it seven matches to seven matches. Bonus points are big.”
In the first round, Braden River knocked off a COVID-ravaged Fort Myers squad, 57-15. The Green Wave had only six healthy wrestlers. Xavier Pennington (120) had a fall against Fort Myers. Against Charlotte, Grady Murphy (113) posted a pin, Jessey Colas (160) notched a technical fall, and Dylan Howard (145) recorded a decision.
After the final against Charlotte, Braden River wrestled Naples to get more work in.
Manatee, Lakewood Ranch fall in 3A-4
BRADENTON - Palmetto Ridge cruised to a 51-21 victory over Riverdale to win the Class 3A Region 4 Duals Tournament at Manatee High School on Thursday night.
With the win, Palmetto Ridge becomes one of eight teams to advance to the Class 3A region finals at Osceola High School (Kissimmee) next weekend, where the Bears will look to avenge their state runner-up finish from 2021 when they were in Class 2A. Palmetto Ridge has now made it to the state quarterfinals for five straight seasons under fifth-year head coach Blaine Ison and this year is returning 10 of 12 state qualifiers from their second-place run in 2021.
Palmetto Ridge defeated Lakewood Ranch 58-15 in their region quarter-final matchup and had undefeated performances from Tyler Washburn (113), Jean Valoria (126), Vinny Sasso (132) Demetri Zertopolis (138), Brennan Van Hoecke (145), Roman Garcia (160), Aiden Vega (182) and Austin Foye (285).
“It was just a solid performance from our guys tonight from top to bottom, we went out there and battled for every position and every point and were looking to get bonus points when we could, and we did that,” Ison said. “This is a special team, a lot of these kids have been here before, we’ve got a little bitter taste in our mouths and have something to prove at states this year.
“Moving up a class to 3A we’ve have to face a lot of tough new teams this year that have been there before, and although we don’t know what to expect for states yet we’re super excited to possibly battle a team like South Dade that has won it for the past five years and are now on our side of the state tournament bracket,” Ison said. “We’re excited to get them if we get there.”
Riverdale narrowly defeated host Manatee 35-34 in the other Region 3A-4 quarter-final matchup behind pins from Ayden Balma (113) and Dominic Rodriguez (170) while Charlie Smiarowski (106) and Zachary Balma (120) came up with impressive wins against Palmetto Ridge in the final match. Riverdale won the region semi’s last year but graduated nine starters from that team and are in the process of developing a lot of young wrestlers in the lineup this season.
“We’re young, mostly underclassmen, but we did pretty well tonight, especially against Manatee, and I was pleasantly surprised overall,” said Riverdale coach Keith Evans. “We took some bumps but we were able to battle back. Against Palmetto Ridge we were a little out-gunned, and they’ve got a lot of hard-hitters, but we expected to take a little bit of a beating like we did last week against and I’m still proud of the way the guys got in there and fought and didn't give up.”
Manatee, which also lost to Riverdale in last season’s region duals meet, saw victories by pin from sophomore Julian Smith (132), Mason Miller (182) and Demontez McDowell (192) in the opening match of the night.
“I just tried to stay active throughout my match, be the first to shoot and work my throw by,” Smith said. “ I got the job done and got my takedown, and overall our team did a great job. We could’ve done better, but I’m proud of everyone. The goal is to make state tournament at the end of the year and just keep improving from now through the rest of the season.”
“We're having a solid season overall, but tonight a couple of matches didn't go our way that we thought would be ok. We needed pins, and we just didn't get the pins that we needed to advance. That's where wrestling matches are won and lost,” said Manatee coach Andrew Gugliemini. “We had them (Riverdale) on their back but just didn't finish, and that’s something we need to work on. We lost to what I consider is a really good team and program, give them some props. That’s a great team in Riverdale, and I have a lot of respect for them. We've got some tape and we will watch the matches, get in the film room, and get a little better.”
— Chirs Dell, correspondent
CLASS 1A-REGION 3
Lemon Bay 63, Cape Coral Oasis 12
Naples First Baptist 60, Port Charlotte 24
Lemon Bay 37, First Baptist 34
Cardinal Mooney 60, Seffner Christian 56
TOP PLAYERS: CM, Jordyn Byrd (15 points, 12 rebounds)
RECORD: Cardinal Mooney (12-3)
NEXT: Cardinal Mooney at Booker, 6 p.m. Monday
Port Charlotte 52, Lemon Bay 31
TOP PLAYERS: PC, Delaini Morris (17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists), Yani Hall (15 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds), Aryianna Lockey-Progl (7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals), Taylor Paille (6 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds); LB, Maya Collins (18 points, 5 rebounds), Taylor Orris (6 points, 10 rebounds)
NEXT: Venice at Port Charlotte on Friday; Lemon Bay at Parrish Community on Friday
Manatee 45, Bradenton Christian 38
AT: Bradenton Christian
TOP PLAYERS: M, Ty Barclay (16 points), Keile O'Dell (12 points), BCS, Faith Desrochers (14 points), Lana Price (10 points)
RECORDS: Manatee (10-5), BCS (5-10)
NEXT: Manatee at St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep, 5:15 p.m. Tuesday
Booker 67, North Port 26
AT: North Port High
TOP PLAYERS: B, Jaydn Lattimore (16 points), Jakai Peterson (10 points), Kymani Freeman (9 points)
NEXT: Booker at Wauhcula Hardee County, 6:30 p.m., Friday
Bradenton Christian 77, Zephyrhills Christian 51
AT: Zephyrhills Christian Academy
TOP PLAYERS: BCS, Ty Townsend (12 points), Jaden Baker (12 points), Ashton Desrocher (10 points), Landon Dempsey (9 points), Carson Weaver (9 points)
RECORD: Bradenton Christian (14-3)
NEXT: Cardinal Mooney at Bradenton Christian, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Venice 79, Booker 47
TOP PLAYERS: V, Jayshon Platt (18 points), Isaiah Levine (11 points)
OF NOTE: All 13 Venice players earned quality playing time full team victory.
Riverview 86, Sarasota 64
TOP PLAYERS: S, Sean Collier (17 points), Danny Munn (14 points), Khalil Williams (5 pints, 5 assists)
Dennis Maffezzoli is the deputy sports editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and chief reporter for Sarasota Herald-Tribune and HTpreps covering Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Support local journalism by subscribing.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: PREP ROUNDUP: Charlotte pins Naples High and Braden River High