PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University didn’t get to mix it up at full-strength last weekend, but its short-handed lineup was still good enough to earn fourth place at the competitive Buzz Hill Invitational in Naples.
The Hurricanes finished behind tournament-champion Canon-McMillan (Pa.) High, North Port and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, but also brought home four individual titles.
Highlighting the performance was Jared Prince, whose 126-pound win came against the third-ranked wrestler in the nation, Canon-McMillan’s Dalton Macri. Prince’s victory also earned him the tournament’s “Outstanding Wrestler” honor.
PHU coach Brad Sakevich said he was impressed with Prince’s overall control of the match.
“He put him on his back for a four-point move and the rest of the match he wrestled smart,” Sakevich said. “There were about three or four positions where Jared could have scored but he really just was smart and didn’t force the issue. He was never behind so there was really no point to try and open up. He controlled the whole match.”
Joining Prince as champions this weekend were his twin brother Connor (132 pounds), Tim Sakow (106) and Aaron Hartman (145).
Tucker Hardwick (152) placed second after falling to Barron Collier’s Tristan Roy.
Connor Prince pinned Barron Collier’s Tanis Taylor, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, in the 132-pound final.
“Connor’s been pretty lights-out,” Sakevich said of the junior’s approach and consistency this season. “Since he lost last year in the [state] semifinals he’s been on a mission. I think it definitely lit a fire under him that I haven’t seen before. I think he’s really zeroed in on getting that title.”
The Buzz Hill Invitational wrapped up a four-week grind for PHU, as the ‘Canes took part in elite events all over the state. Duals at Nature Coast Tech and PHU the next two weekends give the team a bit of a break before traveling to Kissimmee to take on rival Osceola High on Jan. 23.
“We’re going to circle the wagons a little bit, get everybody healthy and see if we can make a run at it,” Sakevich said.