SARASOTA — Chance Sharbono, a Sarasota High freshman, has spent 11 years on the wrestling mat perfecting his craft.
He has grown from a tiny preschooler to one of the top wrestlers in the state at 113 pounds.
In many ways, wrestling is all he’s ever known.
On Nov. 16, Sharbono took the mat for the first time as a member of the Sarasota High wrestling team.
As has been the case for more than a decade, his father, Cezar, was right there by his side. Only this was the first time his father, who is the head coach for Sarasota High, would be coaching his son at the high school level.
“It’s kind of strange,” Sharbono says. “I feel like in whatever we do, he not only pushes me, but he pushes everyone in the room. I just get that extra push at home.”
Sharbono was 4 years old when he began wrestling. His father, a former college wrestler, wanted to get back into wrestling at the time and decided to serve as a volunteer coach for the East Manatee Kids Wrestling Club.
Cezar Sharbono brought his son with him to practice every week, hoping his young son would develop the same passion for the sport that he had growing up.
“I got 10 minutes of focus out of him and then he would go roll around in the corner of the mat with his friends,” Cezar Sharbono says.
Sharbono continued to play around on the mats, but it took awhile for him to realize how much he enjoyed wrestling.
“I actually contemplated quitting,” Sharbono says. “I was sick and tired of not learning and just doing what I felt like.”
It wasn’t until he father took him to a wrestling camp when he was 7 years old that Sharbono’s outlook began to change.
Once a .500 wrestler in the middle of the pack, Sharbono improved to come back the following season to win nearly 80% of his matches.
“At first, he wasn’t winning enough,” Cezar Sharbono says. “He didn’t like losing. I told him it was time for him to start paying attention in practice. We did the camp, and he really loved it and never looked back.”
From there, Sharbono joined the elementary school national team. As a seventh- and eighth-grader at the Imagine School of Lakewood Ranch, Sharbono competed on the high school national team.
This past summer, Sharbono went 11-3 against all high school competition to earn All-American status at the AAU Wrestling Scholastic Duals, at Walt Disney World.
“I like the feeling of being able to take someone on head-to-head and win,” Sharbono says.
In his first season at Sarasota, Sharbono is ranked No. 9 in the state in the preseason rankings for the 113-pound weight class.
Now, he is hoping to advance to the state finals and make his own mark on the Sailors’ program.
“The only rankings that matter are at the end of the season when you get onto the podium,” Cezar Sharbono says. “I’ve been coaching him for so long that the biggest problem I have is knowing what he’s capable of and seeing him only work at a certain level.
“It’s frustrating not seeing him work as hard as he has in the past,” Cezar Sharbono says. “I want him to succeed at the next level and push himself to be self-motivated.”
Sharbono says he also wants to eventually break the school record of 160 wins and has aspirations of recording 60 wins every season until he graduates.
“To see my name hanging in the rafters, it would mean a lot,” Sharbono says. “It’d give me something to be known as in a school that I’m new to.”
BY THE NUMBERS
113 — The weight class Chance Sharbono will be wrestling in this season.
1 — The number of years Sharbono has been on the Sarasota High wrestling team.
11 — The number of wins Sharbono posted to earn All-American status at the AAU Wrestling Scholastic Duals this past summer.
9 — The place Sharbono was ranked in the state preseason rankings for his weight class.
4 — The age Sharbono was when his father, Cezar Sharbono, took him to his first wrestling practice.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].