When Marc Allison began coaching Dunedin six years ago, a primary goal for the Falcons was to win the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship wrestling meet for the first time in school history.
Up until this season that goal eluded them. On Saturday, Dunedin was finally able to smile.
"We had a short celebration on the mat," Allison said. "I thought we had a chance last year, but Countryside whipped our butts."
Dunedin took the team title with 205 points, followed by Dixie Hollins (169.5) and Countryside (154).
Allison said there were five schools that had a shot at winning the title. He said the key for his team was having eight wrestlers in the semifinals and finishing with four champions. Jeremy Goodloe won the 125-pound title, John Cannissaro at 152, Antonio Talley at 171 and Justin Zeedyk at 189.
"This year the county is equally distributed in the number of tough kids," Allison said. "We knew going in we had a shot to win it."
Last year Countryside won the county title with 247.5 points, and the difference between first and eighth place was 136 points.
This year the standings were much closer; the margin between first and eighth was 86 points.
Dixie Hollins, fourth last year, moved up to second despite having only one champion, Jordan McKenzie (103). The Rebels had six athletes reach the semifinals.
Countryside crowned three champions: Kyle Grueninger (119), Layton Ayers (135) and Jordan Frease (140).
Palm Harbor and Pinellas Park each had two champions — Scott Santangelo (145) and Paul Riggs (215) for the Hurricanes; Nick Andries (112) and Trey Butler (285) for the Patriots.
Butler was named the most valuable wrestler. He was unseeded at the start of the tournament but went 4-0. He posted a win over No. 1 seed Luis Agramonte (Dunedin) in the semifinals, a pin over No. 4 seed Josh Looney (Boca Ciega) in the quarterfinals, and a decision over No. 2 seed Tyler Paar (Clearwater) in the title bout.
Even if it didn't take long, Northside Christian coach Chris Wilmington said a championship is a championship.
The Bay Conference meet was suppose to feature four teams, but when only three showed up — Tampa Bay Christian reportedly was in Miami because of a prior scheduling agreement — it became a mini-battle.
Host Northside Christian (9-5) defeated Indian Rocks Christian 48-18 and Calvary Christian 46-9 to win the team title. IRC took second, edging Calvary 40-30.
"We saw that it wasn't going to be a big match," Wilmington said. "But we went out like it was a big match. They wrestled hard and did what had to be done."
Three Mustangs went 2-0: Dryden Dennis (112 pounds), Lucio Ojega (135) and Blake Esrey (160).