It’s an exciting time for Pinellas County wrestling. The Palm Harbor University team has gained statewide prominence. Indian Rocks Christian fields a young, powerful team that shows promise for years to come. Dixie Hollins’ Andre Matthews continues to romp undefeated through county competition and beyond.
But the 138-pound matchup between Palm Harbor U. senior Anthony Agazarm and Seminole senior Anthony Parisi can’t be matched for excitement.
“Agazarm-Parisi,” as it has been dubbed, sounds like a title card to a professional boxing or mixed martial arts event. They have met in the finals at every tournament in which their teams have competed against each other this season.
“So far they’ve had four or five bouts, all have been barn-burners where a single move near the end of the match decided it,” longtime high school wrestling writer John Lawton said.
As it turns out, there was prequel to this season’s rivalry this past summer. The two met at Palm Harbor with their respective club teams. Parisi took a knee to the head and was knocked out, but not before Agazarm scored the pin.
So while it’s technically 3-1 Parisi this season, both know it’s really closer. Another showdown looms this weekend in Kissimmee at a Class 3A region meet.
“These two keep wrestling each other, they’ve both lost to each other, they both have chips on their shoulders with a lot to prove,” Seminole coach Matthew Dunton said. “(The rivalry) could get better; it’s hard to imagine, but it could get better.”
The wrestlers provide a drive for each other.
“(Agazarm-Parisi) is some of the best head-to-head wrestling every week that I have seen in a long time,” Pinellas Park coach Tom Reckenwald said. “It’s technical, it’s back-and-forth, both have a ton of heart. These kids want to win and wrestle 100 percent every time.”
Parisi is ranked sixth in Class 3A by scout.com and Agazarm is seventh.
“A lot of kids I go against have potential, but Anthony, you can’t get any better than that,” Parisi said. “It’s good for me to go against him this much.”
The East Lake Invitational final is the only blemish to Parisi’s 38-1 record this season, and it gnaws at him.
“It burns, it kills me inside because I think I shouldn’t have that loss,” Parisi said.
Agazarm (46-8) wrestles a tougher schedule as Palm Harbor University has gone against state powerhouses Miami South Dade and Osceola Kissimmee. But his close calls with Parisi still sting.
“All I have is this picture in my head being second place, and I can’t stand it,” Agazarm said.
The rivalry, as intense as it is, doesn’t extend back any farther than summer. Parisi is from Pennsylvania, having come from national powerhouse Easton High, and Agazarm is a three-time state qualifier who transferred from Gulf High.
As intensely personal as wrestling can be, the two have found a way to respect each other.
“I’ve talked to him; it’s better now, less tense,” Parisi said.
Still, neither is ready to give anything away to the other. In fact, each wrestler’s preparation now includes the other as a near certain matchup in the finals.
“You can’t overlook (Parisi). You have to study him (when preparing for tournaments),” Agazarm said.
Undoubtedly, both have each other in mind as they prepare for the Class 3A region meet. And both will likely advance to state, setting the stage for another potential showdown in Lakeland.
A recap of this season’s meetings between 138-pounders Anthony Agazarm (Palm Harbor U.) and Anthony Parisi (Seminole):
East Lake Invitational
They met in the finals Dec. 7. Agazarm won 6-5 as Parisi was trying to execute a reversal as time expired. Agazarm was named most outstanding wrestler.
Jerry Mita Invitational
Their Dec. 14 meeting included four stalemates and four blood timeouts. Parisi scored a third-period escape to lead 6-5, and Agazarm could not complete a last-second takedown. Parisi was named most outstanding wrestler.
At the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet on Jan. 25, the match was tied at 1 after three periods. Parisi scored a reversal in the first overtime for a 3-1 victory. He was named most outstanding wrestler.
3A-7 district meet
Last week, Parisi took a 4-2 lead into the final period. Agazarm had two takedowns, but both were whistled out of bounds. Parisi’s 4-2 victory halted Agazarm’s string of three consecutive district titles.
When: Friday — first round at noon; Saturday — semifinals at 10 a.m., finals at 6 p.m.
Admission: $7 per session