NAPLES — Palmetto Ridge's Joey Nadotti might be just a freshman, but the 138-pound wrestler has more mat experience than most seniors.
Nadotti began competing with the Bear Wrestling Club, run out of Palmetto Ridge, when he was 5 years old.
Now 14, Nadotti has thousands of matches on his resume, many coming in national tournaments.
Nadotti used that experience to buzz saw the competition at the Buzz Hill Invitational at Gulf Coast High School on Saturday. He earned a 14-2 major decision over Doral's Danny Garcia in the championship match.
"Joey came to wrestle," said Bears coach Laz Rua, whose team placed fifth overall. "This is a big tournament to win."
Though the Buzz Hill, one of the toughest meets in the state, was held at the Sharks' gym, the 33-team event was hosted by Barron Collier. Last year, the venue changed to accommodate the growing tournament, named for the local State Farm agent and former college wrestler who sponsors it.
Lely's Claudel Alix was the only other Collier County wrestler to earn an individual title. The senior easily defeated Palm Harbor's Tyler Modlin, 8-2, in the 220-pound classification..
"This tournament was a learning experience for me," said Alix, who was the meet's No. 1 seed at 220. "I made a lot of mistakes out there, which I'll correct in practice."
Trojans coach Mark Modica liked what he saw from his wrestler.
"Every week Claudel is getting better," Modica said. "His performance was the result of hard work in practice, and trusting what he does best on the mat."
Nadotti's final match was anticlimactic after he defeated Cape Coral's Bruno Bredicean in overtime in the semifinals.
Bredicean, a senior, beat Nadotti last month at Palmetto Ridge's Chase Life Invitational in overtime.
Turnabout proved to be fair play on Saturday as Nadotti scored a 2-point takedown in the extra period.
"Like last time, it could have went either way," Nadotti said. "I pulled it off this time. I went out there ready to go and mentally prepared."
Rua was impressed with his freshman.
"Bredicean is a senior. He's about 17 or 18," Rua said. "Joey just turned 14. For him to impose his will over a mature kid, that's huge.
"Joey's capable of doing wonderful things on the mat."
Barron Collier, which placed seventh, had two wrestlers make the finals. Zach Swats (170) and Brady Pallante (285) each lost close decisions. Swats came into the Buzz Hill undefeated this season. He met St. Petersburg-Dixie Hollins' Luis Aldana in the finals.
Swats was leading on points 4-3 with less than 20 seconds left in the match. However, the referee cited Swats for fleeing, and awarded Aldana a tying point. In overtime, Aldana scored on a 2-point maneuver to take a 6-4 victory.
"I let the referee take control of the match," Swats said. "I should not have done that. It came back to bite me. My bad. It's nobody else's fault."
Pallante faced Fort Myers' Charles Fequierson, who is unbeaten this season, in the 285-pound championship match. In a grueling contest for both wrestlers, Fequierson led 3-0 midway through the third period.
Pallante rallied in the closing seconds, but ran out of gas, and time, losing 3-2.
"Coming into this tournament, I knew it would be me and (Fequierson) in the final," Pallante said. "Both of us were out there, tired as he'll. If only I was in better shape."
It probably won't be the last time the two will meet. Pallante and Fequierson share the same district and region, so they will most likely see each other in the postseason, which begins in a few weeks.
Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas won the team title, edging Palm Harbor by one point, 229 to 228.
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Buzz Hill Invitational
Gulf Coast High School
1. St. Thomas Aquinas 229; 2. Palm Harbor 228; 3. North Port 199; 4. Chartiers Houston 135; 5. Palmetto Ridge 125; 6. Somerset 116.5; 7. Barron Collier 106; 8. Doral 101.5; 9. Charlotte 100.5; 10. Fort Myers 100.5; 14. Lely 79.5; 19. Naples 59.5; 24. Estero 40.5; 28. Golden Gate 27; 30. Immokalee 19; 31. Gulf Coast 18