After three straight weekends taking on some of the best tournament fields in the state, a trip up to Brooksville offered Palm Harbor University a late-season opportunity to dial back the intensity a bit.
Nature Coast Technical High’s annual Combs Duals always boasts a quality field, but nothing like what the Hurricanes have faced while traveling to Homestead, Kissimmee or Naples.
PHU coach Brad Sakevich said he arrived intending to see his boys perform well and win, but even he admitted to being surprised at the weekend's dominance.
The Hurricanes mowed down their competition en route to a perfect 9-0 team win.
"I was surprised in a few of the matches how big the scores were," Sakevich said, noting PHU’s 75-to-(negative-1) defeat of Steinbrenner High.
Only three opponents managed to (barely) get into double digits in scoring. The ‘Canes average margin of victory in nine team matches was by 63 points (71-8).
PHU received undefeated individual performances on Saturday from Tim Sakow (106 pounds), Jared Prince (120), Connor Prince (126), Tucker Hardwick (138), Josh Kampman (145), Aaron Hartman (152), Gunner Hurst (160) and Tyler Modlin (195).
Hardwick impressed his coach this weekend with his overall body of work and by earning a 6-1 victory over Gulf Breeze High’s Beau Doerr, ranked No. 3 in the state at Class 2A.
"He had an outstanding day and probably the best win by far out of any kid," Sakevich said. "For Tucker that was a nice win. I think that’s his signature win. We’d been knocking on the door with him. He was fifth at the Knockout, then he was fourth at Buzz Hill and this is one of the big guns he finally knocked out."
PHU also got a look at how it plans to attack the upper weight classes from now on because of Tyler Orgera’s drop to 182 pounds from 195 and Tyler Modlin taking over 195 from 220.
"It was a total team effort across the board, but those heavier guys going down and making room for a couple other guys [at 220] to get in the lineup made a huge difference," Sakevich said, crediting the increased time coach Ron Timpanaro has been able to spend with the bigger wrestlers since the JV season recently ended.
"Coach Timpanaro, who primarily works with the upper weights, has now been in the wrestling room for two weeks and you can automatically see a difference," Sakevich said. Coach Timpanaro helped guide the JV wrestlers to an undefeated season in 2012-2013.
PHU has been logging long-distance miles every weekend since Dec. 21 but will finally get to be the one rolling out the welcome mats from now until districts in early February.
That aforementioned run of hosted tournaments starts with the 10-team Logan Kushner Duals this Friday and Saturday. Day One wrestling gets underway at 11 a.m. and Day Two competition starts at 9 a.m.