Gainesville tournament hosts the state's elite

Nick Davis of GHS defends his top wrestler title from last year.

Published: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 12:32 a.m.

High school wrestling is on the rise in Florida. Despite the lack of a top college wrestling program in the state, there is a wealth of talent.

Just ask Jeff Davis, the father of the top area wrestler, Gainesville's Nick Davis, and the coach of one of the state's top club teams.

"There was a time when Florida teams would go to a tournament, and teams from states like Pennsylvania would see Jacksonville on the draw and know it was an easy win," Davis said. "It's not that way anymore."

Quite certainly, Nick Davis, who will travel to college power Minnesota for school next year, has proved he can wrestle with anyone. He'll get the chance to prove it again today, as Gainesville hosts a tournament that brings in many of the top teams in the state.

Schools scheduled to come to the tournament that hits the mats at 10 a.m. include Tallahassee Lincoln, Columbia, Orange Park, Clay, Wakulla, Tampa Sickles and Southridge.

That's not quite as powerful a lineup as last year, when Brandon, the state's top wrestling power with the longest dual match win streak in the country, showed up. Still, even with Brandon a year ago, Davis was named the top wrestler at this event.

Gainesville should have all it can handle again with Clay and Southridge ranked in the state overall poll. Clay had been the dominant team in Gainesville's district until a move down in classification this season.

"Clay is a very tough team," Davis said. "They are the top 1A team in the state, and it's fortunate for Gainesville that they have moved out of the district."

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