Wrestling: Palm Harbor University cruises to Logan Kushner Memorial title
PALM HARBOR — Saturday's Logan Kushner Memorial saw host Palm Harbor University cruise to its fourth straight team title, far outpacing runnerup Nature Coast 316-184. Sunlake took third with 180.
The meet is a round-robin format where wrestlers in a certain weight class wrestle every other competitor in the class. Some wrestlers got in as many as nine matches in the two-day meet.
The real meat grinder was at 120 pounds where Admiral Farragut’s Dillon Ottinger, PHU’s Gabe Naranjo and Nick Caputo had to sort out first through third on critera. They all beat each other. Ottinger pinned Caputo in the second period of their match but lost to Naranjo by pin fall in the first period. Naranjo beat Ottinger but lost to Caputo 6-5. Caputo beat Naranjo but lost to Ottinger.
“We (Caputo and Naranjo) both wrestle the same, we like to take shots, move quick,” Caputo said. “I’m taller but he’s stronger.”
Naranjo grew 2 inches in the offseason and shot up from 106 to 120 this season. It’s creating a logjam at 120 as only Caputo or Naranjo can staff that weight class. Defending state finalist Chris Fragale is slotted at 113 and the 'Canes have John Schriefer at 126. Ottinger is out of the postseason mashup as he is in Class A at Admiral Farragut but he got some quality matches in at Palm Harbor U. over the weekend.
“Mentally, this was closure for me,” Ottinger said. “I needed to erase that memory of getting pinned four times last year.”
Ottinger went 4-4 at last year’s Kushner meet, having to tangle with Fragale and Michael Bush II of Sarasota. Ottinger won the 120 class by going 8-1, Naranjo was second (8-1) and Caputo third (7-1).
Fragale (113) got a measure of get-back against Bush II. Fragale lost 5-0 in the finals at LiveGreco a week ago to Bush but came back at Kushner and took him to overtime before scoring a take down in the overtime period to win it 5-3.
“I knew I had to push the pace of the match,” Fragale said. “This year he (Bush) came real hard. I have to watch for the cradle and work my inside trips, things like that.”
PHU’s Gavin Mitchiner went 7-0 at the meet, taking first-place honors in the 145 class.
“I think we’ve got a good team this year, a good look,” Mitchiner said. “We’re going to have to wrestle our butts off (at PCAC); nothing is given.”
PHU 152-pounder Jake Kampman went 6-0 to win his weight class, capping the afternoon with a first-period pin of River Ridge’s Anthony Hartman. It marked the sophomore’s first tournament win of the season.
“I won this tournament in Logan’s (Kushner) honor,” Kampman said.
Kampman remembers Kushner wrestling with his older brother, Josh, and carpooling with them.
“It’s sad what happened to a really good kid,” Kampman said.
Kushner was a PHU wrestler and football player who drowned in 2012.
Other area weight class winners were Ross Jennings of Sunlake (106), Jordan Gibson of NCT (160) and Ashton Harding of NCT (182).