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HomeLocal & StateHernando Places Four, Eltzroth Wins Weight Class at Women of Ironman Tournament

Hernando Places Four, Eltzroth Wins Weight Class at Women of Ironman Tournament

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Last weekend, the Hernando High School girls wrestling team traveled to Ohio to compete in the Women of Ironman Tournament. The event, which was held at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, took place on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 9-10) and followed the Ironman Men’s competition that took place on Friday and Saturday. This competition was the inaugural tournament for the girls at the Walsh Jesuit Tournament and the 29th annual meeting for the boys. According to Hernando Wrestling Coach Kenneth Day, it was a special event that could not be missed.

“First of all, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to this event because the Ironman Men’s Tournament is a very prestigious tournament to get into,” said Coach Day. “All the top talent goes there, and this was the first year they’re doing the Women of Ironman event. We got an opportunity to do that, so we couldn’t pass it up.”

The Leopards sent nine wrestlers from their girls’ squad, with four placing in their respective weight classes. Makenzie Eltzroth took top billing with first place in the 145 class. That victory is the third in as many tournaments for the junior wrestler. Grace Leota took fourth place in the 170, Emma Bauknight took sixth in the 115, and Savanna Valle finished strong for the Purple and Gold by placing seventh in the 105-pound weight class. Hernando’s other five athletes who competed included Sydney Bridenstine, Olivia Brown, Daniela Espinal, Mariah Earl, and Julia Salgado.

“Just a lot of national competition,” Coach Day said. “We can’t stay in Florida. High-level wrestling. The girls performed awesome… They hustled all weekend. They were wrestling at a high level, and I was just overall impressed by their overall demeanor, how they carried themselves when they entered the building, and they really got after it.”

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Out of the 65 high schools represented at the Ironman competition, Hernando placed sixth. Coach Day was pleased that the school represented not just the county but the entire state with pride. In doing so, he felt the Leopards showed that the state of Florida had upper-tier wrestling on par with that in other states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. A challenge with wrestling, Coach Day mentioned, was the consistency and dedication that is required to stay physically ready and qualified.

“For wrestling, it’s a constant thing,” said the Hernando coach. “For Makenzie to place first, you had to work all summer, going to summer practices, going to summer events. We do this event over summer called Disney Duals. It’s like a three-day event. So, she’s wrestling at these events. Then, for some of the girls, they have to manage their weight. So, as you’re sitting there at home, wrestling practice is over. You’re still constantly thinking, ‘Ok, I’ve got to be at this weight on Friday. I have to maintain that weight for Saturday weigh-in.’ So, it’s always going on. Wrestling is a sport that you think about at practice, you think about at home, and even after you lose, you still think about what you could do better.”

There are many more wrestling tournaments taking place locally and around the country throughout the coming weeks. Springstead will be hosting their Corey Hill Memorial Tournament on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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