District 5-1A Wrestling Championships: Needing Seasoning
Every Palatka wrestler participating in Thursday’s District 5-1A meet at Crystal River will leave it as a regional qualifier.
PHS coach Josh White just wishes they had to work for it.
The two Interlachen wrestlers who will be on hand both have a chance to reach the top of the medal stand. IHS coach Craig Borgus wishes he had four.
Such is life in the small, shallow district that is 5-1A, which officially has seven teams, but most have such small contingents that every participant will advance by placing among the top four in his weight class.
“I think there’s two classifications that have four guys. Every guy I take is going to advance just because they showed up,” White said.
That being the case, the ideal Thursday is to place as high as one can, thus bettering their first-round draw for regional competition, where one district’s champion opens against the fourth-place finisher from another districts, seconds wrestle against thirds and so on.
White said he believes three of the eight Panthers taking to the mat could come away as champions.
Jerich Givens has impressed since his late arrival from an injury, compiling a 7-1 record in the 138-pound weight class. Bryan Smith is the county’s winningest wrestler at 30-6, but after spending most of the season in the 220-pound weight class, he will go at 195 on Thursday. Jamar Danzler (160 pounds) has the team’s next-best record at 26-8.
The only other Panthers with winning records are 16-10 Dale Green in the 145-pound weight class and 18-12 Ira Dixon, who is moving down to the 220 class after competing mostly in heavyweight matches.
Rounding out the Palatka continent are freshmen Drevon Williams at 106 pounds (9-12) and Trevor Davis at 113 pounds (8-11) and junior Jason Gullett at 170.
Smith’s move from the 220- to the 195-pound weight class could make for an interesting finals or semifinals matchup with 26-5 Corey Atkins, the best of the two Interlachen wrestlers who are making the trip.
“One of his strengths is his conditioning,” said Interlachen coach Craig Borgus. “If you get a halfway decent opponent, you’re not going to pin him in the first or second period and you’ll just have to be able to wear him down.”
The only other Ram in the field is Cade Mason (138 pounds), who is given a good chance despite a modest 18-16 record. “The only guy in the district that has beaten him is the Dunnellon kid and their last match went to overtime.
Injuries are forcing Borgus to leave two other wrestlers at home, 22-9 senior Brennan Wykoff (182 pounds) and Dalton Cady (132 pounds).
Both Borgus and White agree mental preparedness will be the most important element on Thursday.
“Are you willing to sacrifice to get the win? The training’s been done and it’s all mind games now,” White said. “I wish we’d had more one-point matches this year, so they’d be prepared to go the full six minutes.”
“It’s going to be who wants it more and who wants to fight for it,” Borgus said.