DUNEDIN — Dunedin and Sunlake battled back and forth for the team points lead during Saturday evening's Class 2A, District 8 wrestling finals, with both teams showcasing an impressive display of willpower.
A pinfall victory by Dunedin's RJ Luth over Sunlake's Jordan Mills in the 220-pound bout sealed the team title for the Falcons, their third consecutive district crown.
"Sunlake was outstanding," ninth-year Dunedin coach Marc Allison said. "They had the lead, and we ended up catching them and beating them. It shows our young kids that if you work hard and do your job then the payoff is there."
Dunedin scored 182 points, followed by Sunlake (172), Zephyrhills (106) was third ahead of River Ridge (103), and Mitchell (90) was fifth.
The Falcons' Kyle Goodnow, ranked No. 2 in the state at 170 pounds according to Scout.com, produced dominating performances throughout the tournament. Goodnow easily defeated Mitchell's David Hayes 9-1 in the championship final of his weight class.
"I was a little disappointed how the team wrestled at Palm Harbor, but they stepped it up this week for districts and I'm proud of them," said Goodnow, who improves his record to 43-0 this season.
Dunedin and Sunlake each had eight wrestlers reach the championship finals, and each had five wrestlers walk away with individual crowns.
In addition to Luth and Goodnow, Dunedin's champions were: coach's son Marc Allison (126 pounds), Chandler Pope (132) and Alex Lehbar (138).
The Seahawks' titlists were: Wesley Wood (113), John Ortiz (120), Austin Lopez (182), Zach Kweller (195) and Brandon Franklin (285).
But the Falcons had one more third-place finish than the Seahawks, helping Dunedin earn the district title.
The Falcons and Seahawks each qualified 12 wrestlers for the region tournament at St. Cloud beginning Friday. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance.
"We're in a tough region," Allison said. "We go in hoping that we can stay healthy and that every kid wrestles to the best of their ability."