DADE CITY — Heading into the wrestling season, Pasco High coach Mark DeAugustino was returning a veteran squad. However, in the 285-pound class, there was Andrew Ivie, who had not wrestled since his freshman year, missing his sophomore season with a knee injury.
Even then, Ivie’s freshman year yielded mixed results, but that didn’t deter DeAugustino.
“I saw enough his freshman year to know what he could do,” DeAugustino said.
Ivie was a little more reserved about his talent.
“I know you’re aren’t supposed to say this, but I wasn’t sure how good I could be,” Ivie said. “I was confident, but I knew I had a lot of work to do.”
The work paid off, as Ivie has compiled a 44-2 record while winning the conference, district, and region championships the past three weekends. He will compete in the Class 1A state wrestling championships heavyweight division this weekend in Lakeland, where he will try to become the eighth Pasco Pirate to win a state title.
Since his two early season losses — to Clay High’s Roland Samec in December and Mitchell’s Dillon Bryant in January — Ivie has been on a roll. While Samec and Bryant have good records, Ivie said he learned something from the defeats. In fact, Ivie had first-period pins against each later in the season.
Although Ivie is making his mark on the wrestling mat, his future may be on the football field, as not only he the younger brother of true freshman Florida lineman Joey Ivie, but also holds two football scholarship offers: Florida and USF.
Ivie possesses natural strength and power, but DeAugustino adds Ivie is a wrestler, and doesn’t just use his strength on the mat.
“A perfect example was the district final (against Weeki Wachee’s Anthony Vines),” DeAugustino said. “Andrew tried a throw that didn’t work, sunk a front head lock in, then shot the double and got a takedown, and he pinned Vines with an arm bar. He did it so quickly. You just don’t see many heavyweights wrestle like that.”
As Ivie heads to Lakeland, he’s taking nothing for granted, even though he’s favored in his first two matches.
If he gets through those, an anticipated match with Jacksonville University Christian’s Jamal Fiffer, the No. 1-ranked heavyweight in 1A, awaits. Ivie is ranked third 1A, but isn’t fazed by the challenge ahead of him.
Regardless, DeAugustino loves the wrestler Ivie has become.
“There isn’t a harder working kid around,” he said. “You never have to make him run or lift. He never misses a practice and, most importantly, he’s just a great person.”
Correspondent Steve Campbell can be reached at SteveCampbell@ionmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @SCPascoTrib.