GULFPORT — Over the past couple of months, Largo has enjoyed a resurgence as one of the top wrestling teams in Pinellas County. But one thing had been missing: a tournament team title.
Saturday at the Southside Duals hosted by Boca Ciega, Largo solved that issue, topping a 12-team field and defeating the 2009 champion, Palmetto Ridge, 46-28 for the title.
"Well, our kids have worked all year on being tough," said Largo coach Jeremy Frioud, whose team went 8-0 in the event. "That's all we preach. If you're the tougher man, you're going to win, and that's what we did out here.
"We got to see some tough competition out here today, and it really helped us. We showed up as a working-class team from working-class families, and the work paid off today."
The Packers were down 17-15 in the finals against the Bears but picked up some pivotal victories, and Jared Ballew (103 pounds) got the title-clinching pin over Palmetto's Devon Snyder. Largo also scored victories over Boca Ciega (72-0), East Lake (51-15), Lakewood (64-15), Golden Gate (71-6), LaBelle (77-0), Lely (78-6) and Dixie Hollins (43-30) to reach the championship. The Packers had five wrestlers go 8-0 for the day, including Ballew, Clarence Longley (135), Cody McKinnon (140), Adrian Howell (160) and Derrick Doss (189).
"It was a team effort out there," said Longley, who was named most outstanding wrestler. "It was really important for us to do well out here today. Before this, we haven't won a team trophy the past four years I've been here."
Boca Ciega's De'Jhaun Monroe went 7-1, losing to Ballew, to raise his overall record to 23-3.
Dixie Hollins took third overall, going 6-2.