Before the season, Barron Collier’s Brady Pallante made it a goal to win the state heavyweight championship.
To do that he had to get past two formidable opponents — Fort Myers’ Fequierson Charles and himself.
Charles, a senior, had eight career wins over Pallante, including victories in the district and regional finals in February 2012, and the Buzz Hill Invitational finals in January — all in overtime.
Pallante faced the undefeated Charles again in the Class 2A-District 12 championship match in February. Again Pallante lost — again in overtime.
The crestfallen junior was at his lowest point after the match, knowing he probably would have to face Charles again the next week at regionals.
“At the end of the season, I was struggling mentally and I didn’t have it all figured out,” Pallante said. “I knew if I was going to win a state title I had to beat (Charles) the week of regionals. I said to myself, ‘I’m not losing to him again. I lost to him eight or nine times. That’s enough.’
“It was a matter of me putting my foot down and deciding it was my time to shine. It was up to me to take it. No one was going to hand it to me.”
Pallante took it all right.
He defeated Charles 4-2 at regionals — in triple overtime. The next week at the 2A state championships the duo met again in the finals. Pallante won 2-1. Goal achieved.
“It took a lot of digging down deep,” said Pallante, who won the prestigious Tony Ippolito Memorial Tournament at Brandon High School in January. “I really had to dig deep and talk to my coaches and dad, and figure out what I had to do to get my head on straight and be a state champ.”
For most of his success in winning the state title, and overcoming Charles and himself in the process, Pallante gave a lot of credit to Barron coach Anthony Partello and his father, Cougars football coach Dan Pallante.
“Coach Partello always gave me positive motivation every day,” Pallante said. “He would give me a goal and when I reached that point, push me even further.
“My father knew I was struggling. He sat me down and told me I needed to get my act together. That I had to start working harder. He knows a lot about working hard and lifting, running and conditioning.”
Pallante took that advice. He was at the Barron track every morning at 5:30 running sprints, then running mile after mile at night after practice. He did pushups every night before going to bed at 8:30 p.m. and watched his diet closely.
For Pallante, it resulted in a triumph on the mat and over his own self.
“Seeing the clock tick off to zero and having your hand raised — it’s the best feeling in the world,” Pallante said after his win at states. “The emotions are insane. So much joy. I never experienced something that lifted me so high, especially after putting in all that hard work.”