Palm Harbor University
The Hurricanes have a loaded lineup and could qualify as many as seven wrestlers for the state tournament, including four who have legitimate shots at top two finishes. The strength of the lineup is in the lower weights. Besides Jared Prince (120), Connor Prince (126) and Aaron Hartman (145), there also is Tim Sakow (106), a junior who cracked the starting lineup and is nationally ranked. With so much star power, the Hurricanes are easily the overwhelming favorite to repeat as conference champion and should place in the top two as a team at district and region meets.
Despite graduating a state champion in Kyle Goodnow and a state qualifier in R.J. Luth, the Falcons can have a solid performance at the state meet. Dunedin will rely heavily on its lower weights, such as Clarence Arrington (126), Marc Allison (132) and Alex Lebhar (138).
After struggling for the past few years, the Cougars should make a turnaround because of their lower weights, led by Matt Collora, who won his weight class (106) at the East Lake Invitational last season and qualified for the state tournament.
Sure, the Rebels numbers took a hit due to graduation and transfers. But Dixie Hollins still is regarded as one of the better teams in the south county and will be stronger in the upper weights with Andre Matthews (285) returning as perhaps the county's top heavyweight.
Indian Rocks Christian
After placing third in their district last season, the Golden Eagles are poised to make a significant leap thanks to a lineup that was bolstered by a few key transfers. Jared Wolfenbarger, a two-time district champion, came over from Dixie Hollins and is wrestling at 106 pounds. Jay Dugmore, a district runnerup, transferred from Osceola to wrestle at 143 pounds.
• Friday-Dec. 1, East Lake Invitational
• Dec. 7-8, Jerry Mita Invitational (Pinellas Park)
• Dec. 21-22, Southside Duals (Boca Ciega)
Teams to watch
Wrestlers to watch
Clarence Arrington, Sr., Dunedin, 126 pounds: A former folkstyle champion in Texas who moved here two summers ago, Arrington established himself as one of the county's top wrestlers last season when he won a Class 2A state title last year at 126. He and teammate Kyle Goodnow (now graduated) became the first state champions from Dunedin in 37 years. Arrington is wrestling in the same weight class and recently won an individual title at the Peter Parker tournament.
Derrick Doss, Sr., Largo, 195: A two-sport star, Doss has been a leader at linebacker the past three seasons. He also is a solid wrestler who qualified for state last season at 195 pounds and just missed placing. With no offers yet, Doss is contemplating skipping his senior season to concentrate on playing football in college. He most likely will not wrestle until after the winter break.
Aaron Hartman, Jr., Palm Harbor University, 145: Last season, Hartman entered the Class 3A state tournament undefeated and ranked No. 1 in his class. He lost in the semifinals and finished fifth. Two years ago, he was a state runnerup. He will be ranked among the favorites as he chases that elusive state title.
Connor Prince, Soph., Palm Harbor University, 126: He advanced to the Class 3A state finals as a freshman and lost when he gave up an escape in the final minute. But he teams with his twin brother, Jared, to give the Hurricanes the best pair of lower weight wrestlers in the county.
Jared Prince, Soph., Palm Harbor University, 120: Much like his brother, Jared also had a chance at a state title in the final minute. But he has bounced back to become one of the top wrestlers in the nation. At the Super 32 Challenge last month, Jared finished fifth in his weight class to earn All-America status. He went 7-2 with one of his wins coming against the No. 13 ranked wrestler in the country.