7 Canes place; Hartman and Prince brothers earn titles
By Eric Horchy | Suncoast NewsKISSIMMEE - Palm Harbor University continued to build midseason momentum over Winter Break by placing third overall at the prestigious Knockout Christmas Classic in Kissimmee.
Published: January 1, 2013
Published: January 1, 2013
The Hurricanes placed seven of its wrestlers at the two-day tournament last weekend, highlighted by individual titles earned by Jared Prince (120 pounds), Connor Prince (126) and Aaron Hartman (152).
"The kids had a really good showing and I was happy for them," said PHU coach Brad Sakevich. "Overall the team wrestled really well. It was definitely a team effort to get ahead of South Dade and St. Thomas."
Those two aforementioned programs, Homestead South Dade and Miami St. Thomas Aquinas, finished just behind PHU at fourth and fifth, respectively. The Hurricanes had been the ones placing behind both teams at previous tournaments this season and it was the first time PHU had ever topped South Dade, an eight-time state title winner with 50 individual championships.
Taking the overall team championship was Cleveland High (Cleveland, Tenn.), with 239 points, edging out host Kissimmee Osceola, 237 points. PHU followed with 177.5 to top South Dade (176), St. Thomas Aquinas (173) and Springstead (172).
Jared Prince, the state’s top-ranked Class 3A wrestler at 120, largely cruised through his bracket. He pinned three of his five competitors and took out St. Thomas Aquinas’s Alex Uhre in the title bout in an 8-1 decision.
Prince’s fraternal twin, Connor, especially impressed Sakevich with his effort at the Friday-to-Saturday meet. Connor Prince, ranked No. 3 at 126 pounds by Scout.com as of its last poll, has been steadily regaining his form after suffering a back injury earlier this year.
To get the title on Saturday, he had to pick up victories over two Class 3A top-five wrestlers that gave him two of his three losses this season. Connor Prince did just that by dropping St. Thomas Aquinas’ Sal Guererrier in the semis (8-3 decision) and South Dade's Justin Ramirez in the finals (8-1 decision).
Hartman, typically listed as PHU’s 145-pound competitor, wrestled at 152 in Kissimmee without missing a beat. The junior earned a 4-2 decision over last year’s Class 1A state champ, Orlando Lake Highland Prep’s Jake Spengler.
PHU’s other four placing athletes were Tim Sakow (106 pounds, 4th), Tucker Hardwick (138 pounds, 5th), Mike May (132 pounds, 6th) and Josh Kampman (145 pounds, 7th).
"Kampman and Hardwick weren’t seeded but both placed, so they did a great job for us," Sakevich said, adding that May beat Cleveland High’s Hayden Hamilton in a 6-5 decision. Hamilton was the No. 2 seed in the 132-pound bracket and finished fourth at last year’s Division I Tennessee state championship meet.
Sakevich also praised Sakow’s fourth-place effort at 106, one of the tournament’s most competitive brackets that featured the state’s top-ranked Class 3A and Class 1A wrestlers.
"He’s starting to come on," Sakevich said of Sakow. "He’s a junior and he’s waited three years for his turn. Since he’s gotten in the lineup he’s placed in every tournament. He won the [Jerry Mita Tournament], was fifth at the Cougar [Invitational] and then took fourth at the Knockout. And the Knockout is tougher than the Cougar. That’s probably the best tournament in Florida, I would say, when you add the Georgia and Tennessee teams in there."
PHU isn’t done hitting the mat before class gets back in session on Jan. 7, either. The ‘Canes will travel to Naples Gulf Coast High School for a Friday-to-Saturday trip to take part in another typically loaded tournament, the Buzz Hill State Farm Invitational.