Wrestling: Plant conquers Jefferson, dew in outdoors dual match
TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s first outdoor dual match on Wednesday night at Plant’s Dads Stadium actually turned into a three-way battle.
On the scorecard, the host Panthers dominated in a 57-15 win over rival Jefferson. The historical match, however, was delayed for a half hour with the evening dew making the mat at midfield quite slippery. Two large fans were brought in with wrestlers periodically toweling down the mats.
“It was a great night and our kids took it,” said Plant coach Bryan Kenney, who as a high school wrestler in Chicago occasionally competed outdoors. “It was a difficult night, fighting against the dew.”
Nonetheless, Kenney and Jefferson coach Adam Altuzarra agreed that the event, which drew about 200 people in the stands, was worthwhile.
“I thought it was really cool,” said Jim Henrickson, who formerly coached wrestling at Armwood and Leto, and announced the match from the press box. “It brought back the old-school excitement of a dual.”
Ed Ellsasser, whose son Austin, a sophomore, wrestles for Plant, was thrilled to view Wednesday night’s historical event.
“(Austin) was excited to be on the football field, because we come to all the football games,” Ellsasser said.
Before the meet, referee Paul Benvenuti said, “This is kind of fun. I’m pumped. I’ll ref the same way only I had to wear long sleeves.”
Plant got an early jump on Jefferson, claiming 24 points due to Jefferson’s lack of wrestlers in five weight classes. Neither team had a competitor at 145, which resulted in a double forfeit.
The first victory decided on the mat went to Plant’s Gunner Frankel, who at 120 pounds defeated Brian Mas for the first of his team’s five pins.
“It feels great, setting history,” Frankel said.
Jefferson’s first win came in the 160-pound division with Damiani Castro beating Kent Malizia 9-3.
“I had to (win), because it was getting bad,” Castro said. “It was very slippery. I had to adjust to the mat.”
Aside from Frankel, Plant wrestlers with pins included Johnathan Brabazon (126), Carter Ellis (132), Anthony Cordero (138) and Alex Hills (195).
Jefferson got pins from Vaughn Williams (220) and Jesus Gonzalez (285).
Contributing to the fanfare were walk-up music for the home wrestlers and a break midway through the action for a dance routine by Plant’s Danceros. Additionally, JROTC students manned a drone to film the action for Kenney and the school’s media departments.