PALM HARBOR — The 2012 version of the Palm Harbor University Duals, renamed the Logan Kushner Memorial Duals after a former student who recently drowned, was a two-team race from the outset.
Palm Harbor U. and Fort Myers-area Riverdale rattled off eight consecutive wins before meeting in the 12th and final round on Saturday.
"Riverdale is the perfect team to end the tournament with," said PHU coach Brad Sakavich, whose team fell a point short 37-36.
Riverdale crushed its opponents — St. Petersburg, Seminole, Countryside, Largo, Dunedin, Clearwater, Dixie Hollins and Nature Coast Tech — and posted a 62-point average margin of victory. PHU's average margin of victory was 52 points.
And the matchup lived up to the anticipation.
Riverdale recorded pins in the first two matches, PHU stormed ahead by winning the next five matches, including in a hard-fought match at 120 pounds in which PHU's Michael May scored a two-point takedown with 10 seconds left to win 4-3.
"That was a great feeling to get that win and put my team in a good position," May said.
However, Riverdale was far from finished. Despite, dropping a 5-2 decision to sophomore Class 3A state runnerup Aaron Hartman, Riverdale won the last three matches to edge PHU 37-36 and claim the tournament championship.
"We are always looking for good competition," Riverdale coach Chris Hayward said.
"We want to bring the best teams in here so we can see where we're at," Sakavich said.
Sakavich and the Hurricanes were coming off a Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship. Despite coming up one point short in these duals, the PHU coach kept his team focused on what the event was for: later, more important matches.
"This tournament is not all about winning; it's about getting ready for the postseason," Sakavich added.
Nature Coast beat Countryside 57-18 in the final round to claim third place with a 6-3 record.
"We had a lot of tough, individual matches, that's why we came," Sharks coach Mike Lastra said.
Individual honors went to PHU's Hartman (142), who improved to 40-0 this season, and Dunedin senior Kyle Goodnow (170), who improved to 42-0. Both wrestlers stepped up in weight class and remained undefeated. Both wrestlers were state finalists last year, Hartman taking second place.
"I feel like I can do that or even better this year," Hartman said.
KUSHNER MEMORIAL Duals
Team scores: Riverdale 9-0, Palm Harbor University 8-1, Nature Coast 6-3, Dixie Hollins 6-3, Countryside 5-4, Seminole 4-5, Largo 3-6, Dunedin 3-6, St. Petersburg 1-8, Clearwater 0-9