PALM HARBOR — The opportunity to do something special was there and Aaron Hartman didn’t let it slip away.
With a second-period pin of Boca Ciega junior Jacob Mohr, the Palm Harbor University High senior became the Pinellas County Athletic Conference’s second four-time champion in the 29 years the annual tournament’s been held. The other member of that exclusive club is former Countryside Cougar and U.S. Olympian Jared Frayer.
Not one to show much fluctuation in emotion, Hartman said joining Frayer has been on his senior-year to-do list all season.
“That was definitely a goal,” the 145-pounder said after PHU won the PCAC team championship in a landslide. Hartman picked up three pins and an 18-3 major-decision victory en route to the top of the podium. “It’s awesome being one of the only kids to do it.”
Hurricanes Coach Brad Sakevich said he’s proud of Hartman’s accomplishment and hopes its further fuels his drive as the state meet approaches.
“Aaron is a special kid,” Sakevich said. “He’s very talented, he’s very athletic, he was well-trained before he even got to me and he deserves this. Hopefully it carries over into the states and he can win a championship. I feel like he’s slowly elevating toward that.”
Frayer won his fourth PCAC title in 1997 and remained the only wrestler to accomplish such a feat for 16 years until Hartman gained access to the club on Saturday.
Chances are, that number is going to suddenly double come next year.
PHU juniors Connor and Jared Prince, two of the top wrestlers in the state, both won their third straight county golds on Saturday. Connor (132 pounds) earned a second-period pin and Jared (126) a 13-1 major decision.
As a team, PHU joined Countryside as the only school to win the county meet three times in a row. The Cougars won the first seven PCAC’s and 20 out of 29 overall, but haven’t done so since 2008.
Out of 14 weight classifications on Saturday, PHU wrestlers took gold in 10, silver in two and bronze in one. That amounted to a gaudy point total of 345.5, far outpacing second-place Dixie Hollins at 181.0.
Hartman and the ‘Canes aren’t provided with much time to savor their victory, though.
PHU will host the Class 3A District 7 tournament this Friday beginning at 10 a.m., where the ‘Canes are heavy favorites to capture a sixth-straight crown.