By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — The Charlotte High School wrestling team is peaking at the right time.
With the district meet less than a month away, the Tarpons are proving they’re one of the best teams in the state. That was evident on Saturday, as Charlotte finished second at the Gene Gorman Showcase.
Lake Gibson, ranked No. 1 in the state by Scout.com, won the team title by going undefeated (10-0) over the two-day, dual-style tournament at Charlotte, including a narrow victory over the Tarpons (32-27).
That was the Tarpons only loss of the weekend as they finished with a record of 8-1. If they had won just one more weight class against Lake Gibson, they would have finished undefeated.
“One match is a six-point swing. We had a couple that could’ve gone either way,” Charlotte coach Evan Robinson said. “We were leading in a couple of them, but it is what it is. That’s why they’re the No.1 team in the state. They don’t lay down for you.”
“It was close. It was darn close.”
In addition to Lake Gibson, Jensen Beach and Tampa Jesuit were also teams ranked in the top 10 that were in attendance, but that didn’t stop Charlotte, which defeated both schools handily. Charlotte, which is ranked in the top 15 in the state, knocked off Jensen Beach 48-21 and Tampa Jesuit 60-12.
James Paul, who wrestles in the 138-pound class, led the way for the Tarpons with a 9-0 record over Friday and Saturday. Teammates TJ Gjerde (113) and Anthony Cavanaugh (152) were right behind him as both finished 8-1 in the tournament.
This weekend continued a hot streak for Charlotte, which defeated No. 4 Fort Myers last week and No. 11 Mariner the week before that.
“Hopefully there’s continued growth and this isn’t peak time when we get (to districts),” Robinson said. “I’m very proud of the young men we had this weekend. They really stepped it up and did a nice job for us.”
Lemon Bay, the only other team from the area to participate, finishing tied for fifth with Golden Gates and Palmetto, each at 5-5. Charlotte got the best of Lemon Bay again this year, winning the teams’ dual 54-24.
Tyler Brady (113) led the Manta Rays with a 9-1 record in the tournament while Albert Werden (120) went 8-2 and Brad Fuson (126) went 7-3.
“In this type of tournament, if you have some youngsters it’s going to be a learning experience,” first-year Lemon Bay coach Mike Schyck said. “I have four or five guys who are consistent so for them there were some good matches that’s going to serve them well going into the postseason. But some of the other guys had to take their lumps and learn how to get better at certain positions.
“With regards to how we did, I’m happy with one thing and that’s that they started fighting. They’re not going to win all these matches. I just want to see that there’s effort there and I saw that so I’m pleased that we’re working in the right direction because I think that’s been a struggle here of late.”
Gene Gorman donated a $1,000 scholarship to Lake Gibson in honor of the school winning the tournament. The money was given in the name of the team’s best wrestler, which was Diamonte Perry (120) after he posted a 10-0 record.
GENE GORMAN SHOWCASE
Teams: 1. Lake Gibson; 2. Charlotte; 3. Jensen Beach; 4. Tampa Jesuit; 5. (tie) Golden Gate, Lemon Bay, Palmetto, 8. Dixie Hollins; 9. Mariner; 10. Lakewood Ranch; 11. Clewiston.
Charlotte d. Clewiston, 78-0; Charlotte d. Dixie Hollins, 76-3; Charlotte d. Golden Gate, 48-22; Charlotte d. Jensen Beach, 48-21; Charlotte d. Lake Gibson d. Charlotte, 32-27; Charlotte d. Lakewood Ranch, 63-12; Charlotte d. Lemon Bay, 54-24; Charlotte d. Palmetto, 49-18; Charlotte d. Tampa Jesuit, 60-12.
Charlotte d. Lemon Bay, 54-24; Lemon Bay d. Clewiston, 63-9; Lemon Bay d. Dixie Hollins, 38-30; Golden Gate d. Lemon Bay, 42-30; Jensen Beach d. Lemon Bay, 55-18; Lake Gibson d. Lemon Bay, 55-24; Lemon Bay d. Lakewood Ranch, 66-18; Lemon Bay d. Mariner, 55-17; Lemon Bay d. Palmetto, 50-25; Tampa Jesuit d. Lemon Bay, 49-27.