Hurricanes' Harmer on top

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:19 a.m.

Jacob Harmer has heard the talk. Well, he’s heard it secondhand because as he jokes “they won’t come up to me and say that because that’s possibly the worst thing you can do.”

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Gainesville High School senior All-American wrestler Jacob Harmer' record is 38-0.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer

Through the years boastful wrestlers have watched Gainesville High School’s stud 171-pounder cradle a helpless foe for a pin.

Some have walked away unimpressed and have even had the audacity to verbalize their feelings.

One such case happened just a few weeks ago.

“People over here, coaches and stuff, will come up and tell me their kids has never been pinned in the cradle before or something like that,” Harmer said. “(At the Flagler Rotary tournament) I had a kid and he was actually on the side as I was having my quarterfinal match. My dad walked up to me and told me (Max Piasecki of Jensen Beach) was like ‘oh, that cradle isn’t nothing.’

“(Piasecki is) ranked first in (Class) 1A at 171. I was going to wrestle him in the semifinals the following day. And we rolled around and in the second period, I pinned him in a cradle.

“He was freaking out and stuff, slinging his headgear. It’s just like that, the same thing. So, that’s what it is all the time. It’s actually happened more this year than any other year.”

But Piasecki has hardly been the only victim for the 2A state championship favorite.

So far this season Harmer is 38-0 with 30 pins. Only one wrestler has taken him to a decision and no one has scored on him when it wasn’t Harmer just conceding a point.

Even Harmer’s fellow elite wrestlers have struggled.

Brandon’s Zac Berridge has placed three straight years at the FHSAA state meet and GHS coach Ryland Wagner says Berridge is widely considered the state’s No. 2 171 pounder. But last weekend in the finals of the Tony Ippolitto Tournament he was beaten by Harmer in a 12-1 major decision.

Wagner said Harmer (188-10 in his career) has the same kind of ability to dominate as GHS’s two previous All-Americans, John and Nick Davis, but does it in a different way. And as a result, Harmer’s style has caught on with the younger Hurricanes.

“I think you can just look at the way our team has changed,” said Wagner, himself one of GHS’s all-time best wrestlers. “When Nick and John were here it was all about being on our feet, getting takedowns. Nick had 189 takedowns. John had 180 takedowns. So, all those guys who started with them, that’s what they wanted to do because that’s what the best wrestlers on the team did.

“Jacob has come in and as he’s taken over as a leader, his best position is on top. He has (122) pins now for his career and that’s a school record. All these kids see he’s pinning a lot of people and they want to emulate that. They are different philosphies. (With the Davis brothers) we had six or seven guys with over 100 takedowns. Last year Kyle Brooks led our team with 55 takedowns. But we also had four or five guys with over 20 pins. It’s just a philosophy shift.”

Harmer’s skills have caught the eyes of college coaches, and he has scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Virginia and Tennessee-Chattanooga. He has made trips to those schools already and said he also will be scheduling official visits to Purdue (which has sent a coach to GHS to watch a practice) and Missouri.

Wagner and Harmer both say the coaches tell him he needs to work on his work from the bottom. But they are universally of the belief his work from the top is among the nation’s best.

Now, if only his opponents would understand that. After all, this is one cradle you don’t want to rock.

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