Wrestling: Palm Harbor University tops East Lake in host tourney
PALM HARBOR — In the absence of the Jerry Mita Invitational, Palm Harbor University stepped in and organized the first My House Invitational, which hosted 22 teams, from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.
The host Hurricanes graduated their two best wrestlers in Jared and Connor Prince, but if Saturday’s tournament was any indication, the Hurricanes have reloaded and are ready to defend their string of four county titles. They won comfortably over north county rival East Lake, 285-211. Steinbrenner took third (197), Northeast fourth (139) and Countryside fifth (116).
PHU coach Brad Sakevich got his first look at a pair of wrestlers he lost to injury last season. Chris Fragale (113 pounds) and 138-pounder Dylan Whitman both tore their pinky tendons and had to have them surgically re-attached. Both rallied to win their respective weight classes Saturday. PHU won seven of the eight matches where it had wrestlers in the finals.
"When you lose a kid that went 25-2 and beat state placers that you were planning on being a big part of your team after graduating 10 seniors, you kind of lose your mind about how to fill that hole," Sakevich said. "With Whitman injured, too, I thought we were dead in the water (last season). They both did a great job today."
Fragale blasted through the 113 bracket, scoring two pins and a 16-0 tech pin in the final.
"I love the feeling of coming out, hitting all your moves and and scoring as many points as you can," he said.
Whitman knocked off top-seeded Stephen Araca of East Lake in the semifinals and topped Admiral Farragut's Jack Lescarbeau 5-2 in the 138 finals.
Steinbrenner pushed five wrestlers through to the finals and had 2015 state qualifier Brent Behers take the 120-pound bracket with a 10-0 win in the finals as well as Nate Bautista at 285 with a pin in his final.
"We were missing two guys today. I don't know if that gets us past East Lake because they are a deep team but it was a good day; everyone wrestled well," Warriors coach Paul Noble said.
East Lake held off Steinbrenner for second but dropped all three of its finals matches, including the most controversial of the day at 152. PHU's Nick Gust scored a pin with four seconds left over Isaac Gomez. Gomez beat Gust twice last season and was leading 8-1 in the third period when Gust pulled off a surprise move and got Gomez's shoulders to touch the mat.
Gust was on the brink of quitting the team to start the season and only made the final decision to stick it out last Friday.
East Lake coach Joe Marzo was disappointed but pointed to how this will add fire to a budding rivalry between the two wrestlers.
"It has to be two full seconds (to score a pin)," Marzo said. " (Gomez) was dominating the match but he'll get another shot at him. I can't wait for the rematch."
Another great rematch went down at 126 between PHU's Ewan Hatcher and Admiral Farragut's Noah Farrelly. Hatcher downed Farrelly at the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet last season when Farrelly was with Pinellas Park.
"I felt like this match would be tough but I knew I could push it out," Farrelly said. Farrelly led 5-4 with just a minute to go before scoring a late take down to make it a 7-4 win.
"(Farrelly) has always been a good wrestler but he had a mental breaking point," AFA coach Ron Timpanaro said. "We're working past that mental hurdle in the room every week and his attitude gets better and better. This meet is the culmination of that."
The ’Canes also crowned Gabe Naranjo (106), Joe Capone (132), Gavin Mitchiner (145) and Anthony Didden (182). Mitchiner scored a couple of nice, double-leg take downs for an 8-2 win in his final.
Northside Christian's Kamen Wilmington scored some swift take downs and slammed Clearwater's Jensen Rice to the mat several times en route to a 6-3 win in the 160 final. Countryside's Tony Buriburija and Andrew Brown won titles at 170 and 220, respectively. East Bay's Kevin Clayton won the 195-pound final with a third-period pin. East Lake 132-pounder Josh McGinnis suffered an injury default in the semifinals only to bounce back to win the third-place match.
Captain Archer Invitational: Dixie Hollins and Dunedin were down at Charlotte High School for this 20-team event.
Fort Myers' Riverdale won the meet (206.5) but the Rebels took fourth as a team with 158 and sent 195-pounder Clifton Thomas to the top of the podium as well as Dalton Busch at 160. Coleman Bryant (132) and Brandon Nevitt (182) grabbed second-place finishes. Alex Buchanan (170) and Jesse Smith (285) won their third-place matches, and Liam Ward (113) and Zach Addis (138) took fourth.
The Falcons took eighth with 103.5. Brenden Ditro (145) and Grant Cardwell (138) were runners-up. Thomas Bujalski (152), and Jakub Stetz (220) won their third-place matches, and 220-pounder Jakub Stetz took fourth.