PALATKA — Palatka won the inaugural 1A-District 5 duals title back when four-year starter Delton Nealy was a freshman, three years ago.
The Panthers then had to watch teams like Crystal River and Leesburg in 2019, and Atlantic and Pedro Menendez last year, push past them to compete in the 1A-Region 2 tournament.
Tuesday night, Palatka returned to the top of the District 5 heap, with three dual victories in the home gym to win its second district duals title.
The Panthers (4-4) defeated Menendez and Atlantic by identical 41-36 counts, then went on to defeat district newcomer Lake Weir, 51-16, to win the championship.
Palatka had triple-winner performances Tuesday night from Mikade Harvey (106), Ishmael Foster (113, tech fall over Atlantic), Alexander McCrystal (126, pin over Atlantic), Brandon Lewis (132, pin over Atlantic), Nealy (145, pin over Lake Weir & 18-3 tech over Pedro Menendez) and Samuel Lafferty (160/170, pins over Pedro Menendez & Atlantic). Gaitlin Carreras (160/170) added a 2-1 night for the Panthers.
2020 defending champion Atlantic had to go into criteria to make a return trip to the Region 2 tournament. The Sharks (3-1 in duals for the season) bookended the loss to Palatka with wins over Lake Weir (54-24) and a 43-42 victory, decided by criterion F, over Pedro Menendez.
The Sharks had one triple winner on the night in Dustin Puckett (120), with Zakar Williams (106), Ayden Hewington (113), Jamison Pinyan (126/132), Bernie Alvarez (132/138), William Johnson (138/145), Noah Anderson (170), David Arcieri (182) and Jared Jackson (285) all winning twice.
Palatka and Atlantic will travel to the District 6 champion’s gym on January 14 for Region 2 competition. The Panthers will face the District 6 runnerup in one semifinal, while Atlantic will face the host and champion.
After the loss to Palatka, the Falcons secured their first dual victory of the season in round 2, taking down Lake Weir (0-3), 36-18.
Logan Meehan (138, pin over Atlantic), Dane Litzinger (182, 3 pins), Ryon Pickles (195, pins over Lake Weir & Atlantic) and Stewart Martin (220/285, pins over Palatka & Lake Weir) each were 3-0 on the night for Pedro Menendez (1-10), while Jose Ruiz (145) was 2-1.
The Hurricanes had their first competition of the 2020-21 season Tuesday night, and were led by a three-pin performance from Corion Williams (285), plus a 3-0 night from Dean Marquis (152, pin over Pedro Menendez, 11-1 major over Palatka). Preston Guyton (220) added a 2-1 night for Lake Weir.
Complete box scores for all six duals contested Tuesday night can be found HERE.
Palatka will compete in Fleming Island’s Keystone Memorial on Friday and Saturday, while Atlantic and Pedro Menendez will reconvene for a dual meet on January 12. We have Lake Weir’s next event as the 1A-District 5 traditional tournament next month, but we’re hopeful the Hurricanes will fill in their January with a few more dates.