TRINITY — Sometimes it’s not just about athletic ability in wrestling.
For Mitchell’s Derek Wertheim it’s more about using his brain over brawn.
The shaggy-haired 5-foot-11 senior was somewhat of an unknown entering this 2010-11 season after bowing out in regionals last season, but has returned with a surprising 11-3 start in the 145-pound class.
Mitchell first-year coach Daniel Gigantelli credits Wertheim’s early success to making intelligent decisions during matches.
His sharp thinking doesn’t just end with wrestling, but extends into the classroom. The senior holds a 3.9 grade-point average and is dually enrolled at Pasco-Hernando Community College. And as a kicker, he has been accepted into the University of Central Florida.
“The way Derek wins is with fundamentals and smarts,” Gigantelli said. “(Derek) wins with escapes, shots and that’s what we preach in the wrestling room to win by using the basics. Strength is probably the one thing that he needs to work on, but he makes up for that with great technique. If (Derek) adds on the strength then he’s going to be real tough to stop.”
After finishing fourth in a tough field at last weekend’s Kiwanis Invitational, Wertheim thinks he has a shot at going undefeated in this weekend’s Gulf Holiday Duals with top schools like Springstead, Gulf and Hernando competing in other brackets.
Wertheim hopes to use the duals as a springboard to a possible run at states.
“There definitely was a lot of good competition over at Kiwanis and it helped me see some of the better talent out there,” Wertheim said.
“I’m hoping to go undefeated in this weekend’s tournament and keep going strong towards states. Coach has really helped refine my technique and has helped me out a lot throughout the season.”
The chance for the honors student to be standing on the podium in Lakeland come February may seem slim, but a signature win over Hernando’s Jared Young earlier in the season at the Peter Barker Memorial Tournament has helped the senior believe he has a shot.
Ninth annual Gulf High Holiday Duals
When: Friday, weigh-ins, 2:30 p.m.; Saturday, restart, 8 a.m.; finals, 4 p.m.
Pool A: Springstead, Freedom, Gainesville Eastside, Land O’Lakes, Zephyrhills, Ridgewood
Pool B: Dunedin, River Ridge, Mitchell, Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch, Hudson
Pool C: Gulf, Tampa Prep, Hernando, Central, Villages, Anclote
Pool D: Nature Coast, Pasco, Sun Lake, Middleton, Belleview, Fivay
2009 champion: Springstead
Skinny: Springstead is coming off its fifth consecutive Kiwanis Invitational title. Look for the Eagles to take home more hardware, as they come into the duals as the favorite. But don’t forget about the rest of the field, with defending Class A champion Gulf, Dunedin and Hernando competing as well. All four brackets should produce some interesting bouts. Gulf’s Ladarious Jackson is back, after not making weight at Kiwanis, and could square off with Hernando’s Zach Pritz in the 171-pound class.
Favorites: Richie Bliss (103), Springstead; Josman Gamez (112), Pasco; Hunter Swartsel (119), Gulf; Virgil Toms (125), Springstead; Nick Soto (130), Springstead; Carter Bolesta (135), Nature Coast; Cody Ross (140), Springstead; Austin Hayes (145), Gulf; Shawn Landgraff (152), Springstead; Zach Pritz (160), Hernando; Ladarious Jackson (171), Gulf; David Vogheny (189), Largo; Chris Palasky 9215), Gulf; Jeff Kruse (285), Gulf