LAKELAND — Last year Dalton Dennis had a fourth place medal around his neck as he sat in the Lakeland Center bleachers watching his brother Dillon win a state wrestling championship. It was at that time Dalton decided, "If my brother can do it, I can do it."
Dalton made that dream a reality Saturday night as the 125-pound junior from Northside Christian beat Josh McLeod of Clay on a 7-0 decision for his own gold medal. Dalton didn't waste anytime taking down McLeod in the first period, applying back points and scoring another takedown in the second period.
"I just wanted to set the tone," Dalton said. "I had a lot of confidence in myself."
Dalton (45-2) capped a very successful tournament for Northside Christian. Aaron Hartman (103) was second, Cliff Barker (135) third, Brian Travis (112) fourth and Anthony Melillo (130) fifth. The Mustangs took third in the Class A standings just 11.5 points behind Live Oak Suwanee and 21.5 points behind champion Gulf.
In the final Hartman (46-3) faced James Flint of Tampa Bay Christian in the fourth meeting this season between the eighth-graders. Hartman led the series 2-1, but lost this match on a 6-5 decision in a rideout.
Hartman said the highlight to his tournament was beating the state's No. 1 ranked wrestler at 103, Jahlani Callender of Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian, in the second round. Hartman vowed he'd be back next year.
"I'm only an eighth-grader," he said. "I'll come back next year and do even better."
In the 2A heavyweight final, Dunedin's Luis Agramonte faced Doug Vollaro of Oviedo, trying to avenge his only loss of the season from last week's region final. But Vollaro scored an early takedown and back points and Agramonte gave away points on penalties. Vollaro (54-1) defeated Agramonte (55-2) 12-1.
Overall, Pinellas County finished with 10 medalists and none worked harder than Luis Tonge of Osceola, who was pinned in his first-round match, but came back to win five straight matches for a third place medal at 145.
Tonge, a senior, was 2-2 at the state tournament last year. This time he stood near the top of the podium.
"Yes it was very fun," he said. "That was my main focus the whole time is just having fun and enjoy my last season."
Jeremy Goodloe of Dunedin (125) and Thomas Gorman of Admiral Farragut (160) also earned third-place medals. Ryan Hartman of Countryside (112) earned a fifth-place medal.
Finishing 2-2 for the tournament were Bo Kennedy of St. Petersburg, Shaun Shakoor, Kane Plate and Tyler Smith of Dunedin, Dana Harrington and Taylor Cooper of Dixie Hollins, Clarence Longley of Largo, Dryden Dennis of Northside Christian and Leo Queiroz of Clearwater Central Catholic.