By Nathan Cowan, Sun Correspondent
The Charlotte High School wrestling team held onto a 23.5-point lead going into the finals of the District 2A-10 meet. While the Tarpons had all 14 wrestlers still in action, rival Venice had 12 and the district title still hung in the balance.
Charlotte got big wins from lightweights Donovan Cataldi (106) and Ted Gjerde (113), and rode that momentum to four more individual titles and the district championship. The Tarpons scored 223.5 points to outscore runner-up Venice (180.0) and third-place Palmetto (171). Sebring finished fourth with 69 points, Braden River in fifth with 48 points and Port Charlotte was sixth with 42.5 points.
The Tarpons also qualified all 14 wrestlers for next week’s Region 2A-3 meet, where they’ll serve as the host.
“Those two guys have been doing it all year and coming through,” said Charlotte coach Evan Robinson of Cataldi and Gjerde. “They’re a little small for high school but they’re a good combo and they gave the entire team confidence. Confidence matters, especially in high school.”
Joining Cataldi and Gjerde as individual champions for the Tarpons were Bryce Peterson (145), Yvens Candio (160), Anthony Andou (182) and Dalton Mills (195).
“To have six individual champions was a big deal,” Robinson said. “It was a tight team race but every time we needed to have points we got them.”
Cataldi scored a 12-1 major decision over Tyler Murway of Palmetto and Gjerde followed with a pin of Tyler Conway from Venice.
“I’m only a freshman so it feels good to get this first championship,” Cataldi said.
After a string of tough losses for the Tarpons, Peterson dominated from start to finish and earned a 14-7 decision over Richard Siver from Sebring. Candio turned in one of the top performances of the afternoon as he pinned Jake Meyers form Venice in 36 seconds.
Andou snuck out a 3-2 decision against Alonso Houston of Palmetto and Dalton Mills defeated Andrew Duncan of Palmetto 8-1.
“I consider it an honor and a blessing to win this championship with my brothers,” Mills said. “Charlotte wrestling is a brotherhood. I’m proud of my title and it’s my second, but the team title means so much more.”
Three Charlotte wrestlers took second place on the day. Jacob Woodard lost a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to Simon Ullrich of Venice at 126 while Matthew Gjerde was pinned by Venice’s Dan Stone at 132. James Paull (138) lost a 3-0 decision to Christian Sharbono of Braden River.
Anthony Cavanaugh (152), Dylan Mills (220) and Tyler Midkiff (285) all recorded pins to earn third place for the Tarpons and Jose Valdez (170) also finished third with a 9-2 decision.
Jayden Mason earned fourth place in the 120 weight class.
“As a coach I got exactly what I want,” Robinson said. “All 14 wrestlers quality for next week and we win the district title. I have no complaints.”
The Port Charlotte Pirates qualified five wrestlers for the regional tournament. Nicholas Bianconi (160), Gavin Spencer (182) and Ziggy Bond (195) all earned third place finishes while Zachary Adkinson (132) and Brain Gaw (220) finished fourth in their weight classes.
District 2A-10 Wrestling Championships
At Venice High School
Charlotte 223.5, Venice 180.0, Palmetto 171, Sebring 69, Braden River 48, Port Charlotte 42.5
106: Donovan Cataldi (C) maj. dec. Travis Murway (P) 12-1; 113: Ted Gjerde (C) pinned Tyler Conway (V) 5:56; 120: Kevin Schneider (P) pinned Ethan Phillips (V) 3:16; 126: Simon Ullrich (V) dec. Jacob Woodard (C) 3-2; 132: Dan Stone (V) pinned Matthew Gjerde (C) 2:46; 138: Christian Sharbono (BR) dec. James Paull (C) 3-0; 145: Bryce Peterson (C) dec. Richard Siver (S) 14-7; 152: Dominic Bass (P) dec. Jacob Mathis (V) 7-6; 160: Yvens Cando (C) pinned Jake Meyers (V) 0:36; 170: Luke Veigel (V) dec. Phillip Sapp (S) 33-5; 182: Anthony Andou (C) dec. Alonso Houston (P) 3-2; 220: Kyle Johnson (V) pinned Lester Johnson (P) 2:29; 285: Brendan Bengtsson (BR) dec. Briam Ormsby (P) 3-1