ST AUGUSTINE — As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But in the palatial setting with imposing pillars over high-rise structures that is the Tocoi Creek High School campus, there’s still evidence of the work-in-progress that the school — St Johns County’s newest high school — is.
There’s quite a few planned lawns that are still mostly dirt, among other things. But the expected future is extraordinarily bright.
Just so with the Toros wrestling program, which kicked off its competitive life Tuesday night by hosting county rival Nease in a dual.
(Athletic director Jeff) Holland used to be the athletic director at my middle school where I taught, and I’ve known him for a long time. When he asked if I wanted to get back in (to coaching), I said no at first, and it was the right thing to say, because if I said no first, I knew he would get me some help,” Tocoi Creek Darick Dunham said.
“Once the help was in place, it was on. And it’s a struggle. Startups are hard. You’re building in pieces. It was a struggle to get certain items, but our AD is great. I have also really appreciated the help of our coaching staff.”
Dunham, who last coached at Pedro Menendez in the 2012-13 season and took several years away for family reasons, started a varsity lineup Tuesday that was composed predominantly if not entirely of first-year high school wrestlers, many of whom may have wrestled their first match against a non-teammate Tuesday night.
The outcome was somewhat predictable, as Nease — with a cadre of experienced middle weights — rolled to an 80-0 victory over the Toros. Tocoi Creek gave four forfeits to the St Johns Panthers, and its two most-experienced wrestlers — junior Brielle and freshman Kendall Bibla, with the elder Bibla wrestling her first two years for the Panthers — wrestled JV Tuesday night to get matches against Nease girls.
Nease got falls from Jacob Lutz (152), Bam Ghazanfari (160), Chad Severt (170), Alan Rivera (182), Jason Choi (113), Anthony Bismi (120), Parker Stamschror (132) and Mateos Zajni (138). Owen Satterfield (21-10 at 145) and Albio Jakupi (17-6 at 195) both won by major decision for the Panthers.
Nease is now off until December 10, when the Panthers will go to Oakleaf to compete in the Friday Knight Lights on December 10. Tocoi Creek goes back to work on Saturday, at Sandalwood’s Optimist Invitational.
A box score from Tuesday’s dual can be found HERE.