The Pirates return three state placers from last year's team.
After 260 dual wins, eight district championships and 14 seasons, John White stepped down as the head coach of Matanzas’ boys wrestling team back on May 1, 2019. He did it so he could focus solely on the Pirates’ girls team, which celebrated its inaugural season last year.
The Lady Pirates have seen rapid improvement since White’s decision.
“I wanted to give the girls their time,” White said. “Having to focus on both the boys and girls last year, I wasn’t able to give my full attention to the girls. I think we’ve seen a difference. They’re progressing much more rapidly this year.”
Despite having to split time between the two teams last season, the Pirates’ girls team was still extremely successful.
“Girls like to stick to the basics and get it done. We don’t need all that fancy stuff.”
ANGELINA BERMUDEZ, Matanzas wrestler
The Pirates placed fourth as a team at the state meet and had five state placers, three of whom are on the team this season: senior Angelina Bermudez, Morgan Morrison and Riley White.
Bermudez, a three-time state placer, took the silver medal. Now in her senior season, she’s out for gold.
“I don’t want to downgrade,” said Bermudez, who placed fifth as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore. “I want to keep improving. I want to keep this team going even though I’m leaving.”
Matanzas girls wrestling’s popularity has exploded in recent years. When Bermudez began her high school wrestling career nearly four years ago, there was just one other girl on the roster.
There’s nearly 20 now.
“It’s amazing seeing all these girls come out to try a new sport,” Bermudez said. “It’s fun. We’re a really good team with strong girls.”
However, girls wrestling is not yet a sport sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association. Another vote will go before the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee in May, and it’s expected to pass unanimously. Then it will go before the Executive Board.
Girls wrestling will most likely be a sanctioned high school sport during the 2020-21 school year.
“There’s no reason it shouldn’t pass,” said White, who is a member of the Wrestling Coaches Advisory Board. “Girls wrestling is going to explode here.”