NEW PORT RICHEY — The 13th annual Gulf Holiday Duals was missing Springstead and Bradenton Manatee, which had combined to win the past six titles.
But Saturday’s 20-team field was highlighted by local teams such as Fivay, Wiregrass Ranch and the host Bucs. The degree of difficulty may not have been what it was in years past, but the matches did not disappoint.
The Falcons continued their undefeated season (16-0), defeating Gulf 52-21 in the championship match.
“This meant a lot for us as a program,” Falcons coach Andy Medders said. “Last year, we got our butts kicked by some of these same teams that didn’t even get of their pools.”
Fivay state placer Mike Hahn (16-0) had an impressive weekend, going undefeated in the 220-pound weight class. Joining their teammate with 8-0 records in the tournament were Fivay’s Nicco Lightfoot (182), Troy Reed (113), Dominic Grilli (170), Kelly Meus (285) and Andrew Scherer (138).
“The kids are starting to become more consistent and wrestle every match competitively,” Medders said. “I really emphasized that it’s not time to celebrate yet though. This marks a milestone in our season, but we can’t slow down.”
While his lineup isn’t as loaded from top to bottom as in recent seasons, Gulf coach Travis DeWalt had his team prepared for a strong performance. Anthony Agazarm (106), Forrest Swartsel (120) and Spencer Baxter (160) stood out for the Bucs.
Another major story line was the return of Hernando state finalist Zach Pritz (182). The senior tore his right ACL during football season and was told he would likely miss all of wrestling season. After some rehab, he decided to test the injury in the meet.
He went 2-0 with two pins and will likely return full time when the Leopards enter the Springstead Invitational in January.
“He’s changed his stance and his shots a little bit,” Hernando coach Bill Combs said. “He’ll have to have more patience on the mat, but he’s been wrestling for a long time, and I’ve told him, there’s no pressure.”