38th Kiwanis Wrestling Tournament delivers grappling action
By MEL SUITER
Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. --- While Christmas season was in full swing outside of Hernando High School’s gymnasium, inside the 38th annual Kiwanis Invitational Wrestling Tournament was ready to deliver grappling action.
Hernando High School won the team title accumulating 305 points, followed by Winter Spring High School with 225 points and in third place Doral Academy with 192.5 points.
Delivering the action for Hernando High School, wrestling in the 160 pound class Josh Pritz who provided one of the best matches of the day against Dominic Joyce from North Port High School.
The match went three periods, Pritz dominating the match but Joyce did not give up and he mounted a comeback by executing an escape move and got to his feet in the final period.
A counter move by Pritz created leverage not once but four times he was able to lift Joyce into the air to drive him back down into the mat. The fourth time Pritz lifted Joyce into the air back down to the mat with authority, North Port Wrestling coach came out of his chair to get an explanation from the referee about the fact that Joyce’s head met the mat first.
The parents of Joyce wanted to know why too, but there was no warning or penalty to Pritz, he went on and defeated Joyce 10-6, and advance.
The next match for Pritz on his way to championship round against another opponent from Weeki Wachee High School Aidan Mayberry.
Before the match against Mayberry, Pritz sat on the side of the mat with his headphones listening to music. When both wrestlers stepped out onto the mat, Pritz made some music of his own and conducted a fall against Mayberry to move forward in the tournament.
Pritz delivered a sweet sound of victory in the 160 pound champion match against Sawyer Bartelt of Doral Academy, winning the trophy by a close 3-1 decision.
Hernando High School Billy Gould put together a good match against Davis Deal from Winter Springs in semi-final action. Gould put together a good offense and by using some wrestling mat wisdom and walked off the mat with a 6-4, decision against Deal.
Gould made it to the championship bout in the 126 pound division. His opponent from Citrus High School Kobe Rosario, both determined to win and both worked hard during the match.
Gould ran out of time and he also ran out of points, Rosario defeated Gould 9-8, for the championship.
Springstead High School wrestling coach Mike LaRocca made sure that his team was there to work and to compete hard.
In the 106 pound class, Eagles Dominic Nardini did just what LaRocca wanted, he competed and won his weight division by defeating from Weeki Wachee High School Keith Germaine 15-0, to win the trophy.
The most satisfying match of the tournament was turned in by Springstead High School, Joseph Gallo in the 132 pound class for the Eagles.
Gallo’s match against Mckeel Academy’s Cody Brown was a duel that was a complete emotional and physical effort by Gallo, unfortunately he was beaten by Brown 12-6. In the second period of the match Gallo had Brown in trouble but the clock became the ally that Brown needed.
At the end of the match, LaRocca had a few choice words with his wrestler and that was just the icing on the emotional cake for Gallo. Upset but when his teammates came to his side, they encouraged Gallo not to give up on himself and continue to compete.
Gallo did just that, he composed himself, went to the mat for fifth place in the 132 pound division and beat Morgan Ray of Land O’ Lakes High School 8-2.
Brown was defeated in the championship round by Travis Knowlton of Pasco High School 5-0, to win the weight division.
Now the wrestling season is officially started and there is plenty of action yet to come on high school mats across the state of Florida.
With the final match of the tournament completed, the sun was setting just beyond the tree line, the wrestling fans left the building, the only thing left behind was the echo of the day of coaches and wrestlers shouting-All Day Baby!