On the weekend of March 24, 2023, six Hernando County wrestlers made the trek to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to wrestle in the 34th Annual High School National Tournament, also known as NHSCAs. High School Nationals is the “premier wrestling tournament in the country.” 5,303 wrestlers traveled from around the US to see where they rank amongst the nation’s toughest wrestlers. All 50 states were represented at the tournament.
NHSCAs was held at the Virginia Beach Sports Center, which prides itself on being the east coast’s “newest and largest” indoor sports complex. This 285,000-square-foot facility held 5,000+ spectator seats. It was perfect for the 64 wrestling mats used for this massive event. Several high-profile wrestlers were in attendance, including Kyle Snyder, Olympic Gold Medalist; Seth Gross, NCAA Champion; Trent Hidlay, Team USA Athlete; Joey McKenna, Team USA Athlete; Roman Bravo-Young, 2x NCAA Champion. Another big draw to this tournament is the number of college coaches attending and the College Coach Faire held on day two.
Coach David Pritz with Hernando Wrestling Club brought six wrestlers: James Gadson, Senior, 145 lb; Grace Leota, Sophomore, 165 lb; Olivia Brown, Sophomore, 145 lb; Emma Bauknight, Sophomore, 120 lb; Shaw Garrett, Freshman, 152 lb.
Coach Pritz and Hernando Wrestling Club wrestlers continue to make history with their first girl and their first middle schooler to earn All-American status at NHSCAs.
“Grace Leota beat multiple state champions and defeated the #14 ranked girl in the country en route to a 3rd place finish,” Coach Pritz said, “And Jeremiah Chavis won five matches to secure a 5th place finish.”
When asked about memorable moments, Pritz had this to say: “Olivia Brown, second-year wrestler, made it to the ‘blood round’ and finished one match away from All-American Status.”
He also mentioned Shaw Garrett winning two matches in the Freshman division in his first national event.
Pritz is optimistic about the future of Hernando Wrestling Club. “I expect this to become more of a norm. HWC kids competing and performing on the national level,” Coach Pritz said, “And I’m looking forward to coaching and watching Grace compete in WA in a couple of weeks as she looks to solidify herself as one of the top girls in the country.”
Grace Leota will be traveling to Spokane, WA, on April 13, 2023, to compete at the 2023 USMC Women’s National Championship, which also serves as the World Team Trials in women’s freestyle wrestling.