By JOSH FRYE
For the first time in school history, Escambia County High’s wrestling team appeared as a sanctioned wrestling team when the team competed Saturday, November 13, during an individual wrestling tournament held at Gulf Shores High School. Of six wrestlers who competed at the event, three placed.
Freshman Brandon Dean took top place honors within the 220-pound weight class, making Dean the first wrestling team member to place first at a sanctioned wrestling event in school history. Last year, during the first appearance of the team, former student Calvin Nichols made school history when he became the first undefeated heavyweight wrestler in ECHS history. However, last year the team appeared only as a club team at unsanctioned events.
According to the ECHS wrestling team head coach Joel Gonzalez, the team enters into their first sanctioned season as a team with 15 team members. Included within the team roster is one female, freshman Arianna Young, who makes school history as the first female wrestling team member. Gonzalez said Young will be able to compete in matches against other female wrestlers when the team faces W.S. Neal and Daphne High later this year. Gonzalez also added that Young will be able to wrestle in several tournaments during the course of this year.
During last Saturday’s meet, ECHS made quite the impression. Besides Dean’s historic finish with a record of 2-1, freshman Isaac Manzano took second place honors with a 2-1 record within the 220-weight class. Junior Mason Huggins, who was fighting an ankle injury from football season, finished fourth with three wins and two losses within the 170-pound class. Junior Ty’Anthony Dailey, who was fighting a knee injury from football season, finished 0-2 within the 160-pound class. Junior Thomas Fails finished 0-2 within the 170-pound class and senior Donovan Robinson, who was wrestling blind after losing a contact during his first match, finished 2-2.
Gonzalez added that while injuries from football season plagued many of the team members, the team was happy to have three members place in their first individual competition.
“We are eager to grow and show what we can do as a team,” Gonzalez said. “These kids work extremely hard and it is nice to see their work pay off. We are excited to start our first ever sanctioned season.”
He also added that wrestling has and will open doors for kids who are not the right weight or height to excel in other sports such as football, baseball or basketball. One example of this that Gonzalez gave is ECHS wrestling team member Jayshawn Farmer. who weighs only 98 pounds, and is excelling so far within the 106-pound weight class. Wrestling has offered Farmer a sport where his size plays an advantage.