Mike Musto has come a long way from his first trip to the state wrestling championships.
When he competed at state last year, Musto (33-3) was a Panther at Lecanto along with his training buddy, Dustin Whitelaw (22-3). After his junior year, Musto decided to transfer to cross-county rival Citrus, but just a move to a different school was not enough to break apart these two.
During their two seasons together at Lecanto, Musto and Whitelaw became known as the "The Dusto Duo." They were the dominant force for Lecanto's program and both went to state in 2005 - Musto in the 160-pound weight class and Whitelaw as a 152-pounder.
One year removed from that experience, they have traded places on the weight class charts and moved to different campuses, but Musto and Whitelaw still rely on each other as much as ever when it comes to improving on the mat.
Whitelaw frequently practices with the Hurricanes, a trend Citrus coach Rob Hermann does not mind at all.
"Once you get to this point, you just want to see the local guys do well," Hermann said. "Dustin is a good kid, and we love to help as much as possible."
While Lecanto floundered without Musto and a lack of experience behind Whitelaw, Citrus received a much needed boost from Musto's arrival. The senior served as a great role model for Citrus's younger up-and-coming grapplers. Among the affected include newly-anointed state qualifier, Bryant Fisher (112).
"Mike's been a great help," Fisher said. "He may be a lot bigger than me, but I've learned so much from him since he's come here."
Musto's Class A, District 5 title was only the beginning as he then moved on to take the region crown at 152. The senior is looking for the trifecta this weekend when he and two other Hurricanes travel to Lakeland.
"I think Mike has a real shot this year," Citrus assistant Mike Porcelli said. "He's more prepared than ever, and we've been working all season toward this goal."
Whitelaw is not far behind, going into his second state appearance. He took second at 160 during the district tournament, and at the regional took third to grab a spot at states.
The Dusto Duo is only what seems like a heartbeat away from graduating. Both are entered in the Marine Corps' delayed entry program and will be going on to the service after high school.
"We need to win states," Musto said. "There's no settling this year."