Matanzas High School wrestling went 26-2 last season.
Matanzas wrestling coach John White enters his sixth season with the Pirates, and he hopes this season yields as much success as the last one.
The Pirates ended last season with a 26-2 mark, and won the conference, the District 5-1A tournament and were runners-up in the Region 2-1A tournament. They also had five wrestlers qualify for the state tournament.
The Pirates lost to Gulf High School by 46.5 points in the regional tournament, but still managed to tie the school record by sending five individual wrestlers to the state tournament. Last year was the first time three underclassmen qualified.
Alex White, the coach’s son, was the first sophomore in school history to qualify for the state tournament last season. This year he will wrestle the 103-pound weight class again after going 36-13 last season in the same class. Alex White was second on the team with 24 pins last season.
Senior Sal Infante wrestles in the 130-pound weight class. A product of Flagler County PAL wrestling, he had a 35-9 record last season and also qualified for the state tournament.
White said his team has lost a few strong wrestlers, including Brandon McDaniel, who placed fourth in the state last season. McDaniel owned the Pirates’ best regular season record last season, at 40-3, and also set the team record in pins with 28. He also won the Matanzas Duals, Clay Rotary, the conference and the district before finishing as runner-up in the region.
White said his wrestlers need to focus on this season: Infante and senior Garrett Dennis might have the best shot at winning the school’s first state championship. Dennis wrestles in the 160-pound weight class and was district champion last season.
“Sal is explosive, and he is capable of taking down anyone,” White said. “Garrett is just tough to score on.A lot of what he does is instinct.”
Last season, White said, the team had great leaders in McDaniel and Andrew Foran. Most of the wrestlers had years of experience, they all worked hard over summer and were motivated to win.
This year, White hopes to continue the momentum.
When asked what the Pirates need to do this season to have as much success as last, White’s response was simple.
“Not live in the past,” he said. “Continue working hard and improving every day.”
Contact Andrew O'Brien at [email protected].