PUNTA GORDA — With a pair of region champions, Largo placed third at the Class 2A, Region 3 tournament Saturday at Charlotte High.
Largo placed five individuals among the top four en route to 127 points. Riverdale repeated as region champion with 202.5 points, followed by the host Tarpons at 155.5. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state meet that begins Friday at Lakeland.
Largo senior Clarence Longley and Cody McKinnon won titles at 135 and 140 pounds, respectively. Fellow senior Joshua Jeffries placed second at 145.
But it was McKinnon's win that was arguably the most satisfying of the night. The senior missed all of last season after he tore up his knee in the first practice of the season.
"Last year I came and watched this tournament with the team and only saw Snoop, Clarence, go to states," McKinnon said. "It kind of made me want it real bad and I rehabbed real hard."
Christopher Johnson (152) and David Vogeney (189) each placed third for the Packers.
Dixie Hollins also won an individual title, compliments of Dana Harrington (125). The senior jumped ahead early and attacked relentlessly for a 12-2 major decision.
"The thing is he kept trying to score, which is important," Dixie Hollins coach Nick Spataro said. "He could've just rode out once he got up 5-0, but he didn't. At this level you've got to finish out, and he did that."
Durant placed fourth with a pair of runnersup — junior Chase Haley at 119 and sophomore Keith Watford at 160. Senior Gilbert Stokes also qualified for Lakeland with a fourth-place finish at 171.
"I was hoping to get five or six, honestly," said Durant coach Dennis Kitko, who also pointed out that all three are first-time qualifiers. "It's good for them. I've got two underclassmen. … That's good for next year to build on."
Hillsborough junior Ben Richards also reached the championship finals but placed second.
Osceola failed to place any wrestlers in the finals Saturday but the Warriors qualified four for Lakeland. Seniors Jared Willet and Shane Haller each placed third, while fellow seniors Matthew Dixon and Jonathan Gille took fourth. De'Jhuan Monroe was fourth for Boca Ciega.
Northside wins A-3
Dryden (130 pounds) and Dalton Dennis (135), and Anthony Mellilo (140) won titles to help Northside Christian take the Class A, Region 3 meet at Bradenton Southeast.
Dryden Dennis had the toughest final, beating Spoto's Eric Franklin 2-0 in overtime after regulation ended 1-1. In all, the Mustangs will send six to state, including Cliff Barker (145), Zane May (152) and Jason Piquette (160).
Also qualifying for state were: Lakewood's Kenny Price (171), Farragut's Dontae McGee (140) and Clearwater Central Catholic's Marty Milne (119), Jordan Christopher (125), Justin Lewandowski (189).
Andy Villamarzo, Times correspondent