LAND O' LAKES - The Gulf wrestling team was introduced to a whole new wrestling culture last week.
The squad hopped a plane to Chicago on Friday to participate in the Ed Ewoldt Invitational at Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South High School, wrestled Saturday and returned to Florida on Sunday.
That whirlwind trip had a bit of the college experience and it exposed the group to a different breed of wrestler.
"I think initially their feelings were hurt, they were bummed," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "You've got to understand the nature of the sport up north and in the Midwest. These kids wrestle from the time they're 5 and 6, so by the time they get to ninth and 10th grade, they've got eight or nine years of experience.
"They didn't do anything fancy. They were super basic and they were very resilient. They just kept on some things."
Although DeWalt quit paying attention to the team standings after a while, four Buccaneer wrestlers placed in the tournament: seniors Jordan Holding (130) and Martin Levinson (189) finished second, senior Josh Przsybsz (140) was third and freshman R.J. O'Conner (112) was fifth.
ADD ONE: The numbers in the Ridgewood wrestling room are low, but the Rams expect to get at least one addition to the team in December.
Matt Bullwinkel will join the Rams coaching staff as an assistant after he graduates from The Citadel in December, according to Ridgewood coach Peter Smith.
Bullwinkel won the 2004 Class 2A 130-pound state title. In the process, he became the only state champion with 52 wins that season. Bullwinkel attended the school with twin brother Billy.
"The kids love him," Smith said. "He's great with the kids. He is superb. They listen to him, he has great, new ideas, he's young and we're really hoping that he'll be an integral part of our team this year. And who knows, hopefully he'll take over and be the main guy one day."
IN-SCHOOL DUAL: Nothing like a little afternoon wrestling to get you out of class. River Ridge hosted an in-school dual against Brooksville Central and collected a 52-26 victory.
Central held a 3-0 team lead after Nathan Brazeal collected a 6-1 decision against Josh Soto at 215 pounds, but River Ridge ran off five pins and a major decision to snatch the lead and build a 28-3 cushion.
103-Agazarm (R) p. Vega 1:03; 112-Biondo (R) p. D. Supple 1:12; 119-Perri (R) p. Adams 1:44; 125-Fleming (R) maj. dec. K. Supple 12-4; 130-Jenkins (C) p. Saunders 5:16; 135-Bridges (C) p. Ramer 2:43; 140-Cadocet (C) p. Jones 3:28; 145-Hitchcock (R) p. Sieber 1:09; 152-Schinker (C) tech. fall Burns 17-1; 160-Nesbit (R) p. Jones 4:30; 171-Horning (R) p. Miller 1:37; 189-Vannata (R) p. May 3:58; 215-Brazeal (C) dec. Soto 6-1; 285-Collelo (R) p. Scott 0:23.
WEEKEND WRESTLIN': Here's a list of who's going where this weekend: Beef O'Brady's Swamp Challenge at Land O' Lakes, Saturday, 9 a.m. (Hudson, Lakewood Ranch, Land O' Lakes, Miramar, Newsome, Pasco, Sunlake, Wesley Chapel); Citrus Invitational at Citrus, Saturday, 8 a.m. (Gulf); East Lake Tournament at East Lake, Friday, 2 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. (Mitchell, Ridgewood, River Ridge).