GULFPORT — Twenty wrestling teams from four counties — Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota and Manatee — converged for the 18th annual Southside Duals, with East Lake and host Boca Ciega finishing third and fourth, respectively, as teams from south of the bay dominated.
“Whenever you get teams from down there (Sarasota and Manatee) you know you’re going to have a tough time,” Boca Ciega coach Toby Alvarez said Saturday, after Venice and Palmetto finished 1-2.
The field was split into four pools of five teams, each pool advancing its top team to the championship round. The host Pirates went 4-0 in their opening pool matches but went 0-3 against East Lake, Palmetto and unbeaten Venice in the finals.
But two Pirates heavyweights dominated. The Sharpe brothers — William at 285 pounds and Stephon at 220 — bulldozed their way to 7-0 records. Stephon scored pins in all seven of his matches, while William got six pins. Another Pirate, 195-pounder Clifton Thomas, went 6-0 as some wrestlers got fewer matches when teams left early.
“(Thomas) is going to be something big; he’s a monstrosity and he’s still so raw,” Alvarez said.
East Lake, still getting football players into wrestling shape after their postseason run, was led by Dylan Renaker, who went 5-1 over the weekend.
“We’re a young, rebuilding team that relies on our football players; it’s been tough with injuries and guys coming back (from football),” Eagles coach Joe Marzo said. “From losing a dual we should have won (a couple of weeks ago) to coming in third here is an amazing improvement.”
Dixie Hollins finished pool play 3-1 and demolished the runnerup pool with a 3-0 mark. Heavyweight Andre Matthews cruised to a 7-0 mark in his first matches back from football. Matthews had one week of practice before the event. “It’s good to be back on the mat,” he said.
Seminole was just 1-3 in pool play, but Luis Rivera (126 pounds) and Anthony Parisi (138) were bright spots. Rivera went 6-0 and beat Venice’s Zach Kelly, ranked seventh by scout.com, 12-1.
“I worked out with Logan Hatfield all week, letting him beat up on me, I felt good coming in,” Rivera said. Hatfield is a Seminole grad now wrestling at NAIA Lindsey Wilson.
Parisi scored three first-period takedowns and got a 6-3 win over Class 2A’s fourth-ranked Bryce Balsinger of Venice.
Another impressive individual feat came from Countryside’s Cain Martin, who wrestled his first match at 106 then jumped to 113 and won six matches.
PHU shines: Palm Harbor U. went 9-1 and tied for the second-best mark behind champion South Dade at the District 16 Duals meet in Miami. PHU lost to Class 3A’s top-ranked South Dade 32-28. PHU 132-pounder Connor Prince went 10-0, pinning top-ranked Justin Ramirez of South Dade.