Wrestling: East Lake third, Dixie Hollins fourth in Southside Duals
Boca Ciega drew 24 teams to Gulfport over the weekend for the 23rd annual Southside Duals.
Pinellas County teams fared well during the opening salvos. Defending Pinellas County Athletic Conference champion Dixie Hollins went 5-0 in pool play. Northeast went 4-1, dropping the head-to-head with Dixie just 34-35. The Vikings came into the tournament without one of their top wrestlers, Shaq Johnson, who sprained his ankle earlier in the week. The Rebels are banged up, too; Coleman Bryant with a broken hand and Liam Ward out for the year with a meniscus tear. The Rebels also lost former teammate James Redner, who was killed in a motorcycle accident the week prior.
Palmetto Ridge and Venice won their pools, and East Lake won the toughest pool on the 12th tiebreaking criterion. Naples Barron Collier and East Lake were all 4-1 in their pool and the tie was finally broken on the number of first take downs to start the match over the course of pool play. The war of attrition started to catch up with the Pinellas pool winners. Dixie fell 60-18 to Venice and East Lake fell 46-21 to Palmetto Ridge. Palmetto Ridge edged Venice 37-33 to win the overall title. Venice was second, East Lake third and Dixie fourth.
Wrestling fans got an early look into some of the top teams in the county head-to-head as East Lake and Dixie Hollins squared off in the championship pool. Dixie took an early lead 25-12 but the Eagles came back and after Lucas Cortes scored a pin, they trailed just 32-30 with two matches left.
Dixie’s Dalton Busch scored a pin but a forfeit in the next weight class handed the match to East Lake 36-33. The Rebels topped the Eagles 41-30 two weeks ago at the East Lake Duals. Leading the way for the Rebels was heavyweight Jesse Smith, who has trimmed his figure lifting with former Rebel state placer Clifton Thomas. Smith went 7-0 at the meet and improved to 14-0 on the season. Smith is much more agile on the mat this season, having notched his first-ever tech pin, an 18-point victory on Friday at Boca Ciega. Drew Harrington and Dalton Busch both went 7-0 on the weekend.
The Eagles took third and got a big boost from wrestlers John Norman 7-1, Lucas Cortes 7-1 and Isaiha Torres 8-0. Norman’s pin vs. Barron Collier helped push the Eagles into the championship pool.
“We’ve got a relatively young team but with a lot of heart and that’s something you can’t teach,” Eagles coach Rob Golumbek said. “We knew this would be tough but I’m really happy; they exceeded expectations.”
Northeast was two points from the championship pool and took out their frustrations in the second-place pool by winning all three matches for an overall record of 7-1 for the tournament. Marcell Scott, the Peter Barker champ, went 8-0 over the weekend. Viking wrestkers Connor McNally, Rafael Perez, Anthony Walker and Isiah Wilson all went 7-1.
“Honestly, I look at the pools and I think we were the fourth-best team here today,” Vikings coach Robert Wilson said. “All our matches were close but we pulled them out.”
Northside Christian’s Kamen Wilmington notched his 200th victory on Saturday with a third-period pin in a dual against Clearwater Central Catholic. Wilmington also went undefeated over the weekend and even wrestled up two weight classes at 160 for a bout against Largo’s Winchester Dermody. Dermody fell by a narrow 4-3 margin to Wilmington, who has been wrestling since the sixth grade.
“I used to not like wrestling but then last season, I found a love for it and I finally got good at it,” Wilmington said.
Pinellas Park’s squad is growing under coach Taylor Nevitt. The Patriots had just eight wrestlers last season and the team has ballooned to 40 this year. They went 4-1 in opening pool play.
CCC’s Alex Prunoske cruised undefeated through the tournament at 5-0.
Hernando and Land O’ Lakes both wound up in the third-place pool but the Gators really drew the short straw after losing on criteria to East Lake in the pool.
“We had a strong showing and we should have been in the winner’s bracket but for missing three starters, we did pretty well,” Gators coach Eddie Marley said.
For the Gators, Jacob Conrad, Troy Nation and Torben Moses all went 8-0. Josh Spears went 6-2, his only losses to Wilmington and another state placer from 2016. The Gators finished 5-2-1. The Leopards won the head-to-head with Land O'Lakes 45-32 and capped Saturday with a 5-0 record and a 6-2 overall record for the weekend. Wrestlers Codey Maniates and Harry Williams both went 8-0, while teammates Dakota Ellerbee, Demarcus Munford and Devin Dennis went 7-1.
“We wrestled better today,” Leopards coach David Pritz said. “Overall, we wrestled well and got to see a lot of different teams.”