Following a first-period deficit, Hunter Weeks was grimacing long enough to question whether he really wanted to keep going in his Region 2A-3 wrestling final on Saturday at Charlotte High.
A shoulder injury earlier in the tournament — which he said could have possibly been ligament damage, or even worse, a torn labrum — had put the Riverdale junior in the unenviable position of questioning whether he needed to rest up for the state tournament, or go for a win and risk further injury.
If it were against any other opponent, perhaps Weeks would have taken the free pass.
But this was Mariner senior Keaton Koselke, who had beaten Weeks two times previously over the season and who was undefeated over 45 matches at 138 pounds.
Weeks kept going, shifted momentum, and made a match-defining move with 58 seconds left, earning a takedown to unseat Koselke from the undefeated ranks and earn his first region championship.
“We’ve been talking this whole state tournament series about things that these guys can’t control,” Riverdale head coach Kris Hayward said. “Injuries, people not making weight, being sick, and the one thing you have to do is push through all of that adversity and that’s exactly what he did. He got injured and it didn’t stop him.
Weeks’ championship win was part of a larger success for the Raiders, which earned its first team title in three years, had three individual winners and pushed eight qualifiers into the Class 2A finals next week at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
“They’ve gone back and forth all year,” Mariner head coach Dave Phillip said of the match. “This will get (Keaton) ready for states next week. With this loss, he’s going to work harder.”
Riverdale scored 187.5 points to lead the field, while Palmetto Ridge was second with 124.5 points and St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins was third with 105.5 points. Hayward said afterward that if everyone goes right at the state tournament, the Raiders could potentially contend for their first team title since 2009.
“The seniors came through big today with their leadership,” Hayward said. “We had 11 go into the blood round and we had eight get through, which sets us up pretty good going into the state tournament.”
Lee County had 22 state qualifiers during the region tournament across eight programs, including five from Fort Myers. East Lee County senior Carl Monix solidified the program’s first state qualification with a win in the consolation semifinals.
The Green Wave had their own successes, watching two region champions come out on top, including Colten Thomas at 132 pounds and Mike Delago at heavyweight.
Thomas also unseated a previously unbeaten wrestler, dispatching Cypress Lake sophomore Jalen Soto in the semifinals with a 2-1 win. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, Thomas earned a stalling call and then received the go-ahead point from a violation from Soto with just seconds remaining.
“I have 10 matches to my name,” said Thomas, who also had five losses, all of which were forfeits as he rehabbed from a knee injury. “I was ready to bring it anytime and anywhere. I was ready. We really just clashed heads.”
The Duke signee, who finished second at the class 2A championships a year ago, dominated in the region final against Palmetto Ridge freshman George Zertopoulis, clinically scoring points to earn a 10-5 win.
“This was a great tournament and I have a ton of confidence moving forward into states.”
Delago, meanwhile, logged a 2-0 victory over East Lake’s Julian Santos at 285 pounds, claiming his first region title. Riverdale junior Cole Schneider, the defending Class 2A champion at heavyweight, lost a second round match before taking a consolation finals win by pin in just 45 seconds.
Riverdale’s Daniel Williamson won at 138 pounds and Jesse Pryor added a win at 220 pounds.
1. Riverdale 187.5; 2. Palmetto Ridge 124.5; 3. Dixie Hollins 105.5; 4. Venice 101; 5. East Lake (Tarpon Springs) 99.5; 6. Charlotte 94; 6. Fort Myers 94; 8. Sebring 60; 9. Barron Collier 57.5; 10. Dunedin 57; 11. Mariner 51; 12. Cypress Lake 48; 13. Golden Gate 46; 14. Palmetto 45; 15. Estero 29.5; 16. River Ridge (New Port Ritchey) 26; 17. Braden River (Bradenton) 24; 17. South Fort Myers 24; 19. East Lee County 22; 20. Naples 19.5; 21. Gulf Coast 15; 21. Island Coast 15; 21. Port Charlotte 15; 24. Ida Baker 14.5; 25. North Fort Myers 14.5; 26. Lehigh 14; 27. Clearwater 13; 28. Boca Ciega (Gulfport) 12.5; 29. Cape Coral 9; 29. Osceola 9; 31. Largo 4; 31. Northeast (St. Petersburg) 4.
106: Ryan Rubenacker (Cha) d. Fountain (Seb) 6-3; 113: Rocco Pereira (PR) d. Robles (BC) 3-0; 120: Brent Smallwood (Ven) d. Allen (EL) 10-2; 126: Christian Minto (Mar) d. Nicholls (DHS) 5-4; 132: Colten Thomas (FM) d. Zertopouli (PR) 10-5; 138: Daniel Williamson (Riv) d. Bryant (DHH) 4-0; 145: Hunter Weeks (Riv) d. Keaton Koselke (Mar) 5-4; 152: Jacob Mathis (Ven) d. Cavanaugh (Cha) 6-5; 160: Joey Nadotti (PR) d. Teague (CL) 13-1; 170: Joey Parmenter (PR) d. Galan (Riv) inj. def.; 182: Brandon Nevitt (DH) d. Figur (Seb) 6-2; 195: Clifton Thomas (DH) d. Vischulis (Ven) 5-3; 220: Jesse Pryor (Riv) d. Davis (BC) 3-1; 285: Mike Delago (FM) d. Santos (EL) 2-0.
Consolation finals results
106: James Monos (Riv) d. DePaola (CCX) fall 0:10; 113: Bryan Rubenacker (Cha) d. Poche (Nap) MD 14-3; 120: Brian Opalensky (Est) d. Harrington (DH) 3-2; 126: David Ortiz (GG) d. Nesbit (Est) 4-2; 132: Jalen Soto (CL) d. Chandler (Riv) 7-1; 138: Hadley Vadyak (FM) d. Sharbono (Bra) 1-0; 145: Brendan Ditro (Dun) d. Monix (ELC) 5-1; 152: Devin Price (GG) d. Bass (Pal) 5-1; 160: Luke Veigel (Ven) d. Washam 6-0; 170: George Hall (EL) d. Edouard (FM) 7-4; 182: Gage Schield (Riv) d. Richards (IB) fall 5:14. 195: Najee Jacob (FM) d. Simpson (BC) 5-3; 220: Brian Batey (RR) d. Rene (SFM) fall 4:32; 285: Cole Schneider (Riv) d. Smith (Dun) fall 0:45.