HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING

Davis returns to Gainesville High as wrestling coach


Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.

John Davis, a former Gainesville High state champion wrestler, is taking over at his alma mater this season, replacing longtime coach Ryland Wagner, who was head coach for 10 years and led the Hurricanes to six top-10 finishes.

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After winning the state title in 2001 for Gainesville High, John Davis (middle) is replacing Ryland Wagner (right) as head coach at his alma mater.

Rick Runion/The Lakeland Ledger/File photo

Davis wants his Hurricanes to do better.

So far, so good for Gainesville, which has won both tournaments entered.

“There is some transition, coming from a different place and wrestling at the collegiate level,” said Davis, who wrestled at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and was a three-time Southern Conference champion and three-time NCAA national championship qualifier. “I have been exposed to some of the successful side of wrestling and it requires some work. I want to develop some leadership skills, a couple of guys are responding well and some are struggling. But that is going to happen when you have change.”

Gainesville kicked off the season at the Weeki Wachee Duels and defeated Venice for first place. Four wrestlers went 7-0 in their matches: Traevon O'Neil (106-pound class), Jon Gardner (126), Matt Tamayo (145) and Malcolm Clemmons (195). Gardner, who was selected as outstanding wrestler at the tournament, was first-team all-area a year ago, as well as O'Neil and Tamayo.

Perhaps the top wrestler going into the season is Columbia junior Kaleb Warner, who placed fifth last year at state in the 132-pound class.

Davis said he would like to model Gainesville's wrestling program to Brandon, which has won 24 state titles with an active streak of 13 straight.

“Brandon has a great program,” Davis said. “They have a great reputation and I want us to as well. I want us to win a state title.

“Ryland has been great and has helped me a lot. But the pressure is to move forward from what he has done. I don't want to fill his shoes, I want to outgrow them. He has helped me a great deal, but I want more.”

BOYS WEIGHTLIFTING CAPSULES

Buchholz Bobcats

Coach: Billy Pankey, eighth season (131-62)

District: 1-3A

2012-13 record: 17-6 (19th at state, 8th in region, 4th at districts)

Returning starters: 120-Dan McNeil, Jr. (29-13 in 2013); 132-Lorenzo Smith, Sr. (3rd at district, 33-13); 152-Myckel Hutchinson, Jr. (35-10, 2-time city champ, 2nd at district); 160-Tildon Smith, Sr. (had season ending injury in 2013); 195-Vinny Sunter, Sr. (two-time city champ, 4th at district)

Other expected contributors: 106-Gant Moore, Fr.; 113-Tommy Howell, So.; 126-Rhett Rutledge, Jr.; 145-Jonathan Pedrick, Jr.

Columbia Tigers

Coach: Kevin Warner, first season

District: 2-2A

2012-13 record: 14th at state tournament

Returning starters: 113-Josh Wine, So. (14-13, missed half of last season with broken ankle); 120-Kody Waldron, So. (14-14); 126-Dustin Regar, Jr. (23-21); 132-Kaleb Warner, Jr. (5th at state, 51-9, 1st team all-area); 138-Crishtian Little, So. (22-18); 145-Austin Chapman, So.; 285-Marcus Zeighler, So. (22-5, sidelined midway in 2013 with ACL injury)

Other expected contributors: 195-Dylan Regar, Jr.

Eastside Rams

Coach: Adrian Taylor

District: 5-1A

Returning starters: 120-Rashaad Bennett, Sr. (regional qualifier, 2nd team all-area); 182-Taylor Abold, Jr. (regional qualifier, 2nd team all-area); 285-Jacari Gent, Sr. (regional qualifier, 2nd team all-area); Jocquez White, Jr.

Gainesville Hurricanes

Coach: John Davis, first season

District: 2-2A

2012-13 record: 29th at state tournament

Returning starters: 106-Traevon O'Neil, So. (state qualifier, city and district champion, region runner-up, 1st team all-area); 113-Tahj Brennen, So. (city and district champion, district runner-up, 2nd team all-area); 120-Connor Henry, Jr. (regional qualifier); 126-Jon Gardner, Sr. (three-time state qualifier, district and region champion, 1st team all-area at 120, 36-13 record); 138-Marcellus Boyd, Sr. (city and district champion); 145-Matt Tamayo, Sr. (city and district champion, state qualifier at 132, 1st team all-area, 49-9); 152-La'darius Brooks, Sr. (regional qualifier); 182-Vlad Dubinen, Sr. (city and district champion, 1st team all-area, 31-13)

Other expected contributors: 132-Aaron Bower, Fr.; 160-Malcolm Clemmons, Sr.; 195-Malik Clemmons, Sr.; 220-Kenny Harrington, Sr.; 285-Troice Scott, So.

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