GULFPORT — Palm Harbor University, wrestling with heavy hearts after the recent passing of a team friend, dominated the Pinellas County Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday.
Logan Kushner, a PHU grad who died Jan. 8 after police say the 19-year-old drowned in a creek after smoking a legal herbal incense, had played football and wrestled, so he was a friend of many on this year's team.
Coach Brad Sakevich had his team focused after a tumultuous few weeks. "We've been through a lot in the last two weeks with the death of Logan Kushner, with the funeral and wrestling last weekend," Sakevich said. "We placed 14 kids; all of them in the top five. It's just a testament to how much work the kids put in."
The Hurricanes positioned six wrestlers in the finals, with four of them taking titles — brothers Connor (106 pounds) and Jared (113) Prince, Ryan Myers (138) and Aaron Hartman (145). PHU scored 269 points, followed by Dunedin (186.5), Dixie Hollins (154.5), Countryside (130.5) and East Lake (126.5).
Myers wrestled in the most exciting final, defeating Dunedin's Alex Lebhar in the 138 final. Things appeared grim for Myers, who trailed by two with 20 seconds left in the third period.
"I was just listening to my coaches, and they told me to go," Myers said. "They told me to open it up, so I did. I knew it was close. It was definitely my hardest match yet."
Myers won 8-7 with a late takedown and solidified the tournament's most outstanding wrestler honor as voted on by the coaches.
"Ryan Myers is just a great athlete, and he has worked his butt off, and if any kid deserved it, it's him," Sakevich said.
The evening ended with a rematch from the St. Petersburg City Meet, where Dixie Hollins' Andre Matthews handed Northeast's Chris Roane his first loss of the season. Roane wasn't about to let it happen again in the 285-pound final, winning 4-2.
"I didn't wrestle that great (during the City Meet) and I trained real hard this past week, and I just came out here and tried my best," Roane said. "I was thinking I had to have revenge."
106 - Wolfenbarger (Dixie Hollins) d. Helget-Lainey (Seminole), technical fall 17-0
113 - Brown (St. Pete) d. Schultz (Dixie Hollins), 5-1
120 - Brown (East Lake) d. Mashburn (Countryside), 5-4
126 - Hardwick (PHU) d. Zimmerman (Lakewood), 8-3
132 - Tuohy (Easy Lake) d. Pope (Dunedin), 4-2
138 - Deese (Northeast) d. Halisky (Dixie Hollins), fall 1:59
145 - Renaker (East Lake) d. Korba (Dunedin), fall 4:05
152 - Winowich (Dunedin) d. Vios (PHU), 7-3
160 - Teetor (Lakewood) d. Timpanaro (PHU), 8-4
170 - Petsch (Osceola) d. Fortner (PHU), 12-3
182 - O'Neal (Osceola) d. Laursen (Countryside), 9-2
195 - Kemp (Osceola) d. Stoll (Clearwater), 7-4
220 - Irizarry (Dixie Hollins) d. Madlin (PHU), 6-1
285 - Scott (Gibbs) d. Kitchen (Countryside), fall 2:14
106 - C.Prince (PHU) d. Collora (Countryside), 14-1
113 - J.Prince (PHU) d. Galvan (Tarpon Springs), 20-6
120 - Arrington (Dunedin) d. May (PHU), 6-2
126 - Husserl (East Lake) d. Scott (Osceola), fall 3:26
132 - Harrington (DH) d. Kampmann, tech. fall 23-7
138 - Myers (PHU) d. Lebhar (Dunedin), 8-7
145 - Hartman (PHU) d. Dudley (Countryside), fall 1:35
152 - Larivee (Seminole) d. Moser (St. Pete), 4-2
160 - Harriott (Osceola) d. Ebanks (East Lake), 6-0
170 - Goodnow (Dunedin) d. Doyle (Northeast), fall 5:33
182 - Bell (Dixie Hollins) d. Carcalete (Clearwater), 7-5
195 - Doss (Largo) d. Mayhone (Dunedin), 11-3
220 - Vogeney (Largo) d. Luth (Dunedin), fall 3:20
285 - Roane (Northeast) d. Matthews (Dixie Hollins), 4-2
Team scores: PHU 269; Dunedin 186.5; Dixie Hollins 154.5; Countryside 130.5; East Lake 126.5; Osceola 112; Largo 92; St. Petersburg 90; Northeast 75; Seminole 67; Clearwater 65; Tarpon Springs 56; Pinellas Park 55; Lakewood 43; Boca Ciega 30; Gibbs 24