DR. PHILLIPS You might say that placing third out of 75 teams last year at the Florida Girls Wrestling State Championships whet the appetite of the Dr. Phillips Panthers — and you might be right.
“Last year we had a big influx (of wrestlers) — we had really good success and the girls wanted to start wrestling year-round,” Panthers assistant coach Kirwyn Adderley said.
So, Adderley, who also coached the team under previous head coach John Miller and now coaches alongside new head coach Eric Abbey, took charge of an offseason program. That program involved some training at the Florida Jets’ facility in Oviedo, as well as competing in some tournaments with national fields — all of which helped to grow the girls’ knowledge and understanding of the sport, Adderley said.
The results have been tangible.
In addition to some other impressive performances this season, the Panthers won the Metro Conference Championship Jan. 13 at East River High in east Orange County. The event, which saw Dr. Phillips record five champions and 11 total top-four placers across all weight classes, was significant in that the Panthers won — but also because it was the first of its kind for the growing sport.
“It’s significant, one, because it is the first one ever for women,” Adderley said. “Other people can win it, but no one else can be the first.”
First place finishers at Metros for Dr. Phillips included freshman Jessica Corredor (97-pounds), sophomore Remy Vargas (128-pounds), senior Valeria Herrera (154-pounds), sophomore Trinity Rios (162-pounds) and sophomore Shedeline Ulysse (197-pounds). Remy Hellinger, Jennifer Gabriel and Shania Gowan earned runner-up finishes in their respective weight classes; Karoline Ortiz and Alexa Phillips scored third-place finishes. Jennifer Charles also earned a fourth place finish.
With a total of 219 points on the meet, the Panthers easily topped the team runner-up — University High — which had 73 points.
Since Metros, Dr. Phillips has defeated Liberty in a dual and placed second in a tournament at Cypress Creek.
Now, the Panthers have their attention turned toward the state meet at Liberty High Feb. 10 — and surpassing their third place finish from a season ago.
“We need to be healthy,” Adderley said. “We got a couple weeks to get healthy. If we wrestle like we’ve been wrestling all year, we’ll be in the hunt.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].