Columbia coach Pete Whittington always expects to win.
Especially his own tournament.
The Tigers 3-peated as champions of the Tiger Duals on Saturday, winning the round-robin event with a perfect 8-0 record. It took a win over Valdosta in the final dual of the day to clinch the title after Robert E. Lee finished 7-1 to take second place.
Valdosta entered the match with Columbia with a 6-1 record and needed a win to force a three-way tie. But the Tigers dominated the Wildcats, rolling to a 48-16 victory.
Columbia defeated Lee 49-24 on the first day of the tournament on Friday.
“I expect to win every weekend,” Whittington said. “We were thinking Valdosta was going to be our toughest competition. They just had some kids quit recently so that wasn’t the best lineup they’ve ever brought down here. But the good thing about wrestling Valdosta is they are extremely technical so you can’t make mistakes so I’d say we definitely wrestled clean in the finals. If we had wrestled Valdosta the way we wrestled Robert E. Lee (on Friday), it probably wouldn’t have been that great.”
Several wrestlers went undefeated through the tournament for Columbia, including Brett Millard (106-pound weight class), Cooper Mote (126), Ian McGuigan (132), Alex McGuigan (138), Matthew Smith (152) and Shawn Raggins (195). Millard’s performance was most impressive to Whittington, who thought Millard faced some of the toughest competition of the weekend.
“Brett Millard had a fantastic tournament,” Whittington said. “Brett beat some really tough kids this weekend and he looked great. His movement has cleaned up a lot, which is one of the things we focus on. Constantly keep moving, always stay attacking and if I can convince everybody to wrestle like that, we’d be unstoppable.”
Columbia opened the tournament on Friday with resounding wins over South Walton (70-6) and Belleview (72-9). Then came a 60-15 victory over First Coast before the Tigers dominated Gainesville 70-3.
Friday’s final dual saw the Tigers top Lee, a team they could see again at regionals.
“Robert E. Lee is up-and-coming,” Whittington said. “They’re in our region so we’re going to see them again so it’s important that we make statements against teams like that.”
After sitting out the first matches of the day Saturday, Columbia beat Westside 54-19 before winning a dual against a hodgepodge of wrestlers from several schools. That set the Tigers up for the title and they wouldn’t be denied against Valdosta.
“I think we did okay this weekend,” Whittington said. “We still made a lot of mistakes but it’s early in the season. We’ve got some things to fix. We didn’t lose but I’m never satisfied. Ever. Ever. I’m a guy that always looks for the things we need to fix. I never focus on the things we did good. I want to fix the things that are broken. But we definitely showed out this weekend.”
Columbia hosts the District 2-2A Duals this Friday at a 1 p.m. Despite the district containing eight teams, Whittington only expects Chiles, Lincoln and Orange Park to show up as Leon, Gainesville, Mosley and Middleburg have depleted rosters.
The format will also be a round robin.