LAKELAND — When he had no more moves to make, no more clocks to check, Dunedin’s Kyle Goodnow collapsed into the arms of his coaches Saturday after winning the Class 2A state title at 170 pounds. His body sagged until he looked into the crowd at the
Lakeland Center and saw his mother, brother and sister.
Virginia Wistner was crying. Jess Goodnow and Casey were holding cameras.
Kyle Goodnow raced up the stairs and sank into their arms.
“This title means everything because I’ve been through so much,” he said.
On Oct. 23, a fire knocked out the electricity at the condo his family rented. The unit remained dark for months, eventually forcing them to move.
“I’ve basically been without a home,” said Goodnow, who is living with his girlfriend.
Wrestling became his escape. Goodnow entered the tournament undefeated and ranked No. 1 in his weight class by Scout.com. But he had a tough road to his first state title. In the semifinals, Goodnow beat undefeated Tyler Goudy of Crestview 3-0. In the championship bout, Goodnow scored a takedown with four seconds left in overtime to beat Springstead’s Conor Ross 3-1.
“I knew it was going to be tough, but I just kept working and working in each match,” Goodnow said. “I became really focused on wrestling. I channeled everything into it after all that happened.”
Goodnow was not the only Falcon to make history. Clarence Arrington won the 120-pound final with a 5-1 decision over Brandon Gacad of Ida Baker.
Goodnow and Arrington became the first wrestlers to win state titles at Dunedin in 27 years.
“I came in really prepared for this tournament,” said Arrington, who had to get through a semifinal against defending state champion Dalton Langford of Riverdale. Last month, Arrington lost to Langford in a tournament.
“He beat me up pretty good in that one,” Arrington said.
But in the days leading up to this tournament, Arrington pictured a moment on the mat that he believed would come true, a moment when his training would allow his body to outlast Langford. Then it all came together as Arrington won 4-1.
“I put everything I had into this,” said Arrington, a former folkstyle champion in Texas who moved to Dunedin in the summer. “I worked out twice a week. I worked on Sundays after tournaments. … I wanted this bad.”
Other county wrestlers came close to winning titles.
Palm Harbor University twins Connor and Jared Prince each made it to the finals in Class 3A. Both lost in heartbreaking fashion to Brandon wrestlers.
Connor (106 pounds) lost 5-4 to Dylan Lucas on an escape in the final minute. Jared (113) lost 2-1 to James Flint on a takedown in the final 10 seconds.
Northside Christian’s Dryden Dennis, who was trying to join his older brothers, Dillon and Dalton, as state champions, came up short, losing 3-0 to Key West’s Max Llama in the 1A final at 145 pounds.
The Hurricanes’ Aaron Hartman, who was undefeated and ranked first at 145 pounds by Scout.com, lost 14-10 to Yoanse Mejia of Southwest Miami in the semifinals. Hartman finished fifth.
Dixie Hollins’ Dana Harrington, the top-ranked 2A wrestler at 132, lost 4-2 to Springstead’s Josh Herrera in the semifinals before bouncing back in the consolations to take third.