PUNTA GORDA — Sometimes habits can be a good thing.

Take the Punta Gorda Middle School wrestling team. The Eagles won their third straight Charlotte County championship Saturday at Charlotte High School. Punta Gorda scored 198.5 points to beat second-place finisher Port Charlotte, which had 146. Murdock Middle took third with 80 points, and L.A. Ainger finished with 78.

“This is a good thing,” said Punta Gorda wrestling coach Russ Koski. “There are things kids can get outside of the classroom, and wrestling is one of those things.

“We have a lot of wrestling tradition. Some of our kids wrestle in the Hammerheads program and go on to do well in the Charlotte High School program.”

The Eagles won six first places. Clay Pope won at 85 pounds, Zane Coburn won at 95, Eric Clery won at 105, Nick Gjerde won at 138, James Baltutis won at 145, and Issac Schafler won at 185 pounds. The Eagles also had several finishers at second and third place.

Port Charlotte had first places from Jacob Bowers at 122 pounds, Joey Rivera at 165 and Nathan Box at heavyweight. Murdock had first places from Jacob Peterson at 130 and Gabrielle Gipson at 155. Justin Brady at 115 pounds was the one first-place finisher for L.A. Ainger. L.A. Ainger also had second-place finishers with Reece Miller at 145 and Michael Diaz at heavyweight.

There were several close matches with some tight decisions.

L.A. Ainger did well to finish just two points behind Murdock in fourth place. The Cougars only had seven wrestlers competing, the smallest number of the four teams.

“I guess we did pretty well then,” said Cougars assistant coach Bill Savage. “Several of our wrestlers didn’t compete. We may not have quantity but we do have quality.

L.A. Ainger head coach Mike Schyck (also the Lemon Bay High School head wrestling coach) was away at a qualifying tournament with two of his top prep wrestlers, so Savage was in charge.

Punta Gorda also won the county championship in the boys basketball and girls volleyball seasons. Port Charlotte won the girls basketball championship.

The final sport on the calendar for the school year is the middle school track and field tournament May 18 at Charlotte High School, starting at 9 a.m. Last year, Murdock won the girls championship and L.A. Ainger won the boys title.


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