Wrestling: Indian Rocks Christian wins inaugural Jennifer Allshouse Memorial
The Indian Rocks Christian wrestling team has steadily climbed the ladder of top private school programs in Pinellas County and while they don't have the numbers to compete with some of the larger public schools, they have a core of elite wrestlers that thrust them into the discussion of who the top teams in the county and beyond are.
In 2014, the Golden Eagles saw then-sophomore Conner Allshouse make the finals at states at 152 pounds. In January of that year, Allshouse's mother, Jennifer, died after a battle with lymphoma.
"Jen was a typical wrestling mom, hard-nosed, up front, honest and real, but she had a true investment in the team, not just in Conner," IRC coach Jay Dugmore said.
The first annual Jennifer Allshouse Memorial Invitational was held at IRC on Saturday.
"It was something we talked about since 2014 but I never knew if it would actually get done while I was still in high school," Conner Allshouse said. "I found out (it was going to happen) at the beginning of this year and I was excited. It was a way to commemorate my mother in a way that was sentimental to me."
Allshouse and the Golden Eagles plowed through the 16-team tournament, pushing six wrestlers into the finals and taking five individual titles. IRC won it with 132.5. St. Petersburg took second with 95.5, Lakewood was third with 90 and Tampa Prep took fourth with 88. Pinellas Park rounded out the top five with 84.5.
Allshouse, now a back-to-back state finalist and 25-0 this season, has his sights set on nothing less than his first state title and is already heading to American University on a scholarship. Allshouse wrestled at 170 pounds on Saturday and blasted through the bracket, scoring a 17-2 tech pin in the finals.
The highlight match of the day, however, was at 160 between defending state champion Leo Tarantino of Tampa Prep and IRC's Michael Gingras, who placed third at state last year. Scout.com ranks Tarantino No. 2 as does The Florida Wrestling Room. Gingras is ranked second by both sites but at a different weight.
The match lived up to the hype. Tied 0-0 through the first period, Tarantino scored first, escaping from the down position. Gingras tied it 1-1 after a quick escape to start the third period. Tarantino kept trying for a single leg on Gingras and eight times, Gingras thwarted him. The ninth time, Gingras countered, got into the body of Tarantino and turned it into the match's only takedown to win it 3-1. Gingras improved to 25-0 on the season. Gingras and Allshouse split Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
"I knew this was going to be a hard match so I decided to focus on defense and get shots when I could, that was my mindset coming in," Gingras said. "(The counter move) was more a product of the time left in the match. I was tired, I could feel that he was tired. I knew that was my time (to try the counter)."
The Golden Eagles also saw Selby Steward (195), Jack Pohler (132) and Tyler Hagenbuch (120) take individual titles. Marco Kanaylo, wrestling in his first meet, took third at 182 for IRC and 145-pounder Mitchell Kerr took second, falling by second-period pin to defending state champion Anthony Artalona of Tampa Prep.
The Terrapins, albeit a small squad, fared well as Artalona, Aaron Mills (113), and 106-pounder Ben Buhler took home individual titles. The surprise team of the day was Lakewood. The Spartans didn't even have a coach in October and were considering folding up their wrestling program before former Gibbs wrestler Toriano Parker took over and went from zero wrestlers to now having 24 in the practice room.
Parker coached the Spartans to a sweep of the top two heaviest weight classes, Noah Harris winning by second-period pin at 220 and Tyrick Robinson also winning by second-period pin at 285. Wallace Neal-Williams won the 182-pound title by second-perid pin.
Largo's Winchester Dermody won at 152 vs. St Petersburg's Ben Chaudina 9-2. Pinellas Park's Christopher Sexton won the 126 title by second-period pin.
Venice Duals: Dixie Hollins topped host Venice 32-22 in the finals. Liam Ward, Drew Harrington, Cullen MacFarlane, Dalton Busch, Brandon Nevitt, Clifton Thomas and heavyweight Jesse Smith all went 5-0.
Anclote Challenge: East Lake won the 10-team meet, defeating Hudson, Osceola, Anclote, Clearwater and Land O'Lakes. Jackson Fessler, Josh McGinnis, Stephen Araca, Drew Dougherty, Isaac Gomez and Julian Santos all went 5-0.
Falcon Duals: Dunedin won its host tourney, defeating Sarasota, Northeast, River Ridge, Gibbs and Tarpon Springs. Stephen Nichols, Grant Cardwell, Anthony Siegrist, Robbie Washam, Thomas Bujalksi, and Jakub Stetz all went 5-0. 113-pounder Jacob Krebs went 4-1 but his battle getting off of his back and winning his match galvanized the team. Falcon senior Brendan Ditro broke the school record for wins at the meet, going 5-0 and totaling 144 wins to break the mark set by Austin Prince (141) back in 2009.