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Hit or Miss: Jen Blanco

Braden River grapplers poised for solid season

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  • | 6:38 a.m. December 16, 2015
Juniors Lucas Romano and Chance Sharbono both transferred to Braden River this year.
Juniors Lucas Romano and Chance Sharbono both transferred to Braden River this year.
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I thought I knew what to expect when I stopped by Braden River’s wrestling practice. 

A bunch of inexperienced wrestlers figured to be rolling around the mat.

What I didn’t expect was to find myself standing outside along the track watching Braden River coach Clarence Arrington holding a stopwatch. 

No, Arrington wasn't working with the Pirates' track athletes. 

The Pirates coach, now in his third season, was timing each of his 23 wrestlers, who range in weight from 106 pounds to 285 pounds. They were gauging their physical fitness by running a mile. 

Braden River has never been known for its wrestling program. In the past, getting wrestlers to spend four years in the program has been a chore and the level of commitment hasn’t been where it needs to be. 

With just six wrestlers on the roster two years ago at the end of the season, Braden River couldn't even field a lineup and, as a result, had to forfeit more than half of its matches every tournament. 

Last season, the program had just one experienced wrestler. 

With nine wrestlers returning, along with two transfers, Braden River is poised to change its fortunes

For the first time in the school’s history, Braden River opened the season with a wrestler who was ranked. Actually, it had two. 

Junior Chance Sharbono, a two-time state qualifier, who transferred from Sarasota High, is ranked fourth at 132 pounds. Sophomore Riley Dunn, who was Braden River’s lone regional qualifier a season ago, is ranked 14th at 106 pounds. 

Sharbono opened the season with a first-place finish at the Peter Barker Invitational Dec. 5, in Dunedin, going 5-0 with five pins. He only allowed one points against him in the five matches. He also received the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award, another first for Braden River. Dunn went 3-1 to finish third and Lucas Romano, a junior transfer from Sarasota Military Academy, went 2-2 to finish fourth at 126 pounds. 

Last weekend marked the first time Braden River had three wrestlers place at a tournament. It could be a sign of things to come. 

“Some kids are new and it’s a struggle for them, but when they see they’re learning, it makes them want to get better," Romano said. "It makes them feel like they are a part of something. When they see kids who are able to win, it boosts their confidence and makes them want to win.” 

So how will the Pirates judge success this season? 

It comes down to whether the wrestlers achieved the realistic goals they set for themselves. 

“If I can pull it out, by next year I want us to have a full team, not just bodies but kids who can win consistently and finish with above .500 records,” Sharbono said. “At tournaments, I want us to be that team that’s always in the hunt for top three.”


While Braden River looks to have its first solid season, the Lakewood Ranch High wrestling team picked up right where it left off last season. 

The Mustangs posted a 5-2 record to finish third at the Fort Myers Duals Dec. 4 and Dec. 5. 

Hunter Reed (120) and Dylan Cameron (126) both went 7-0 in their respective weight classes. Reed won the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the lower weight divisions. Jake Seaman (106) went 6-1 and Tim Dwyer (138) and Ryan Brown (145) both went 5-2. 







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