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Countryside coach to resign

One year after leading Countryside to the greatest season in county history and, arguably, one of the best ever in the state, coach Dave Frayer thought more and more about retirement.

Wednesday, he made it official.

Frayer, 54, the county's all-time winningest coach and the only one to lead a team to two state titles, decided to call it a career after 24 seasons at the school and 33 overall.

He will coach the remainder of the season and stay at the school as a teacher.

"I'm just worn out," Frayer said. "I don't have the energy to continue to keep the program at the level it needs to be."

Another reason Frayer cited was his ongoing struggle with county officials and the school administration.

Frayer's club program, Bad Cat Wrestling, is on hiatus during the high school season because of a conflict with the joint-lease agreement he has with the city.

Earlier this month, Countryside officials contacted the Florida High School Athletic Association to let it know Frayer violated a rule by letting a junior varsity wrestler who was academically ineligible participate in a meet.

Frayer said he expects to be fined for the incident.

"I was hoping to ease into retirement," Frayer said. "But there have been a lot of different things that have gone on this year."

Frayer formally announced his plans during a meeting with his wrestlers before Wednesday's dual meet at Bradenton Manatee.

"It was a bit of a shock at first, but we figured it was only a matter of time," Countryside 145-pound senior Dominic De-Nunzio said. "After coaching for 33 years, he certainly has put in the time."

During the introduction ceremonies, Hurricanes coach Andy Gugliemini gave Frayer a plaque and read his accomplishments.

In 1971, Frayer started his coaching career at Miami Military Academy and ran the North Miami Takedown Club. Three years later, he was named coach at North Miami High.

Frayer left North Miami in 1980 to take over at Countryside. He has compiled a career record of 376-75-1, including more than 340 victories with the Cougars.

Besides two state titles, Frayer also has won three region titles, 19 conference titles and 20 district titles. Last season, the Cougars finished second to Brandon at state but had four individual champions.

"He's done so much with the program and loves working with the kids," said Jared Frayer, Dave's son, a former standout wrestler with Countryside and now an assistant at Harvard. "He's earned the right to retire, but I can't see him doing it because he doesn't have anyone set as a replacement."

Frayer wrestled with the decision for the past three seasons and has been openly shopping for someone to take over the program. But there have been no takers. Frayer hoped to groom his son into the role, but Jared still is pursuing a spot on the Olympic team and wants to stay at Harvard.

One potential successor is former Countryside wrestler Andy Medders. The former state champion wrestled at Cumberland College, where he went 71-21 the past four seasons.

"I've been talking to Andy and some others," Frayer said. "I'll stay and help as long as I'm needed. I'm just not going to be the coach anymore."

DAVE FRAYER

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Frayer wrestled at Ball State before going into coaching. He spent four seasons at North Miami before coming to Countryside in 1980. For his career, he is 376-75-1, including more than 340 victories at Countryside. With the Cougars, Frayer has coached 18 individual state champions, 35 region champions and 122 district champions. The Cougars also have won three region and two state titles and 19 conference titles. Last season, Frayer was voted Pinellas County Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the 10th time. He also has been named the state's coach of the year twice. In 2002, he was inducted into the Florida Chapter of the Wrestling Hall of Fame.

THE STATE CHAMPS

The state champions Dave Frayer has coached while at Countryside:

B.J. Adams ('03)

Marc Allison ('84)

Kelly Bitsko ('90)

Mandy Blanco ('87)

Jim Carazola ('89, '90)

Keith Davis ('90)

Mike Flood ('03)

Jared Frayer ('95, '96, '97)

Clint Frease ('96, '98)

Richie Ilarraza ('99)

Kelly Matthews ('87, '88)

Andy Medders ('99)

Steve Spicuzza ('02, '03)

Matt Turtzo ('02, '03)

_ Compiled by Bob Putnam.

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