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LARGO — The Largo wrestling team has been in this contender position before.
Rewind to the 2006-07 season when the Packers were also loaded with senior talent and considered a favorite to take the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship.
One thing was missing from that script, though. There was no conference title. Instead, the Packers fell to Countryside in the finals by 1.5 points.
That slim margin kept them from claiming the school’s first conference crown. Largo enters this weekend’s conference meet with another close-knit squad. Packers coach Jeremy Frioud emphasizes team chemistry going into every match.
“One thing I’ve preached to these guys is you don’t get many opportunities to do special things in your life,” Frioud said.
“But this weekend we have a chance to do something special together as a family. These guys treat each other like brothers and for them to accomplish something like this together would be a moment they’ll remember forever.”
What most of the Packers do remember is they had to battle through their first three years of the sport. Senior 135-pounder Clarence Longley said winning was usually an afterthought.
“I remember we used to go into tournaments thinking we couldn’t win,” Longley said. “But now we go into every meet thinking we’re coming out with a win. We know Largo has never won a PCAC title and we want to be the first team to do it. I want us to beat Dunedin in the finals.”
With Dunedin gunning for a PCAC three-peat behind a slew of potential state title contenders and a youthful Palm Harbor University squad only getting stronger, Largo knows bringing home county bragging rights won’t be easy.
Packers’ 140-pound senior Cody McKinnon saw older brother Danny Lemieux’s frustration after losing to Countryside four years ago and doesn’t want history to repeat itself this weekend.
“It was a big confidence builder beating (Dunedin),” McKinnon said. “My brother lost four years ago to Countryside by 11/2 points and we don’t want to have that feeling happen again. We want to win this tournament pretty bad. We want to make history.”
When/where: Friday, weigh-ins, noon; wrestling, 2 p.m; Saturday, weigh-ins, 8 a.m; restart, 10 p.m; finals, 6 p.m. at Countryside
Teams: Boca Ciega, Clearwater, Countryside, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, East Lake, Gibbs, Lakewood, Largo, Northeast, Osceola, Palm Harbor, Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs
Skinny: Dunedin and Largo rested many of their top wrestlers at last week’s Hurricane Duals in anticipation for this tournament. With both squads nearing full strength, they could meet in the finals. Dunedin aims for its third straight PCAC title. Palm Harbor U. is coming off a tie for fourth with Countryside and Riverview at the Hurricane Duals.
Favorites: De’Jhuan Monroe (103), Boca Ciega; Shaun Shakoor (112), Dunedin; Cole Hardman (119), Lakewood; Dana Harrington (125), Dixie Hollins; Aaron Hartman (130), Palm Harbor U.; Clarence Longley (135), Largo; Cody McKinnon (140), Largo; Josh Jeffries (145), Largo; Shaquille Adams (152), Dixie Hollins; Kyle Goodnow (160), Dunedin; Kenny Price (171), Lakewood; David Vogeney (189), Largo; RJ Luth (215), Dunedin; Austin Young (285), Palm Harbor U.