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Falcons nab Mita Invitational championship

Last year Dunedin saw East Lake, Land O'Lakes, Northeast, Largo and a team from Washington state all finish higher at the annual Jerry Mita Invitational Tournament.

On Saturday night, the Falcons used 11 placewinners, including two champions, to improve on their previous sixth-place finish. This time around they held up the team championship trophy.

"We had hoped we would be in the top three," coach Marc Allison said. "But every kid worked hard and contributed."

Dunedin finished with 211 points, followed by Largo (192.5) and Palm Harbor U. (159.5).

Dunedin's Dante Graham, who scored four pins, including a 5:11 fall in the 145-pound final, celebrated his first Mita individual title. This was Graham's fourth year in the tournament, adding to his fifth-, third- and second-place efforts from past seasons.

Danny Miller won the 160-pound bracket for Dunedin, and Dustin Brady (152) and Antonio Talley (171) were runnerups.

Largo coach Jeremy Frioud was proud of his team's effort, but believes mental mistakes cost the Packers the title.

"I definitely think we could have pulled it off," he said. "I still think we're the best team in the county. We'll prove it later."

Largo had three individual champions, including Adam Gibson. He took the 189-pound championship last year and the 215 title this year. He posted four pins, including three in the first period. The Packers also had winners in Marcus Cuevas (112) and Dan Schroeder (152).

Boca Ciega's Kyle Stryker was named most valuable wrestler. He captured the 125-pound title with three pins and an 11-6 decision. He was not seeded to reach the finals.