The Charlotte Tarpons wrestling team continues to maintain its ranking, second or third in the state, depending on who’s poll you subscribe to, despite having one of the strongest schedules statewide.

They’ll be clashing with another strong team in tomorrow’s duals, Riverdale, who’s also among the top four teams in the district. The tournament itself takes on added meaning for the host team.

“It’s a big rivalry, we’ve had this rivalry for 10 years,” said Evan Robinson, Charlotte wrestling coach. “It seems like they win one, we win one. They try to get as many people there as possible. They make it their alumni night. They put it under a light. They make it fun. It’s entertaining.”

Today’s tournament will serve as a great prep for those individuals advancing to the state postseason, having to wrestle foes they’re highly familiar with, allowing them to experience what it will be like in a more challenging environment.

“It will be a good match, win or lose, we put that on our schedule to prepare us for the postseason,” said Robinson. “I don’t know of any other team in this area that’s done the things that we’ve done, going to the Archer, going to the Knockout, going to the Cradle, going to the Clay, dual meets in Palmetto Ridge, (Tampa) Jesuit and Lake Gibson in our preseason with Osceola and Riverdale. We’ve gone against the best teams in the state. We’ve sought them out and wrestled them all.”

The playoffs are scheduled for late February and early March, and the competitive strength of schedule plays a significant role in reducing the anxiety associated with matches of gravitas, already having competed against many of the state’s best.

They will be headed to Jacksonville Friday to compete in the Clay, a tournament with a deep field of nearly 40 teams. The meet will be held Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve seen Clay this year themselves, but not many others,” said Robinson. “We’ll see what they have up in that area. We’re prepared for that when we get to the state meet because we’ve already seen these guys. We know what we can do, what we can’t do and what we need to work on.”

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