Wrestling opens season at Clash of Titans tournament


photo by Karson Cuozzo

Senior Kamden Harrison pins his opponent from Satellite Beach. Harrison took second place in the 160 weight class.

Spirits were high as the varsity wrestling team showed up to University High School at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 for weigh-ins. Clash of the Titans tournament is always the first tournament of the season, and last year the team took third.
This year the team went 9-12, and all matches were either won or lost by pin. Even though it was just a warm-up tournament, team captain Kamden Harrison still expects much more from his team.
“We definitely struggled a little, there were a lot of things that we needed to continue to work on,” Harrison said. “Everyone seems to have the same heart and hustle that we are looking for when wrestling, [but] everyone is still improving.”
The day started off slow, with many first match losses. As a result, the team had to wait to wrestle in the consolation rounds, and fight their way through the consolation bracket. Besides the rough start for some, top performers included Harrison, sophomore Gavin Nelson, freshman Nikolas Blake, junior Hunter Tate and senior Landon Revis.
This was Nelson’s first tournament back since he had surgery on his shoulder this past May. After taking sixth place last year, Nelson made a comeback and took second place in the 152 pound weight class. He wrestled his way through and made it to the finals. He ended up falling short, and lost by pin, but still met his expectations.
“I had my first good tournament. My finals match was definitely my hardest match; he wrestled quick and smart,” Nelson said.
Harrison also had an exceptional tournament, but his semifinal match was a tough one, against a wrestler from Satellite High School. The match lasted three periods, and was back and forth the whole match. Harrison came up short in the finals, but won his semifinal match by pin.
“Right before the third period started the Satellite coach yelled to his wrestler that he was breaking me down, and that I was tired. I went out and pinned him in 20 seconds,” Harrison said.
Harrison took second place in the 160 weight class.
Another wrestler who had a good start to their season was freshman Nikolas Blake. He wrestled in the 132 weight class, and he took second place, after a controversial call was made in the final. Blake had his opponent in a cradle, and had the kid flat on his back, pinning him, but the referee said Blake pinned himself and his opponent took first.
Everyone in the gym was shocked, including the other wrestler, when the referee raised the other wrestler’s hand at the end of the match. Head coach Scotty Diaz argued with the referee at the end of the match to get the call reversed, and the meeting ended with the referee kicking Diaz out of the tournament.
Diaz was suspended for six varsity tournaments due to speculated profanity. Diaz has appealed the suspension and several other coaches, including the coach of the opponent who took first from the tournament have been sending letters talking about what actually happened and defending Diaz’s character over the past decade.
“I got robbed from winning my first tournament, I had that kid pinned and everyone in the gym knew it, including him,” Blake said. “Besides losing that match, I think I wrestled up to my expectations, and I am really excited for the rest of the season, – it is going to be a good year.”
Even though a handful of wrestlers did place, the results were not up to par for the team or the coach.
“We need to be more physical and confident, but they battled back after losses to place as high as they could,” Diaz said.
The team only has a week left before one of the biggest dual tournaments of the season. The Johnny Rouse Invitational, the tournament Hagerty hosts every year. The team’s goal is to place in the top five.
The tournament will take place at Hagerty High School on Dec. 15-17. Tickets will be on gofan.com.