Posted: 6:17 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014

Forest Hill enjoying wrestling rebirth



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Forest Hill enjoying wrestling rebirth photo
Forest Hill senior Steven Martin works with coach Sean Kirtz at the school Monday. The Falcons were surprise district champions and will compete in regionals this weekend. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

By Jodie Wagner

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH —

It didn’t take much for Sean Kirtz to convince Forest Hill High students to join the school’s wrestling team this season.

Finding them something to wear was significantly harder.

The school had just five wrestling singlets to distribute to the team’s 14 athletes at the start of the season, leaving most without anything to wear.

Kirtz, the Falcons’ first-year coach, was able to borrow a handful of junior varsity singlets from Boca Raton High so his wrestlers could compete in a pre-season match against John I. Leonard.

“It was crazy,” Kirtz said.

Falcons wrestlers also wore the Boca High singlets while participating in a car wash fundraiser in Wellington to raise money for new uniforms.

The team did well, raising about $300 toward the cost of the singlets. The Forest Hill athletic department, Kirtz’s parents and a handful of other donors were able to raise the remaining amount to buy the uniforms as well as other athletic gear for the team.

Forest Hill competed with just seven wrestlers last year and finished last in its district.

This season, the Falcons competed with a full squad of 14 wrestlers and upset defending District 15-2A champion and tournament host Southwest Ranches-Archbishop McCarthy to claim the district title.

Four of the Falcons’ 12 wrestlers won individual district titles and 11 qualified for the Class 2A regional meet, which will be held tonight and Saturday at Jensen Beach High.

“They saw my passion for the sport and they just bought into it,” said Kirtz, a former Spanish River High wrestler who approached students in the school’s hallways last fall in an effort to convince them to join the team. “That was the key. I knew there was always potential. Forest Hill’s got a lot of tough kids. It has untapped talent.”

Lamarcus Allen is one of the many newcomers this season.

The junior joined the team despite having no prior wrestling experience and turned in one of the Falcons’ top performances at the district tournament, winning an individual title in the 195-pound weight class. Other district winners for Forest Hill were Margaro Hernandez (120), Kiaun McClure (126) and Danny Fernandez at 138 pounds.

Allen credits Kirtz for teaching him everything he knows about wrestling and his teammates for inspiring him to work hard in practice each day.

“I believe in all these boys out here,” he said of his teammates. “Even if we win or lose, we’re still a family out here.”

“We really do believe in each other,” added senior Joel Santiesteban, who wrestles at 170. “We have a fresh team. We have a few seniors that kind of have experience, but overall, we’re just training and believing. We’re just tired of being the underdogs, the scrubs. Forest Hill hasn’t been on the map for a long time.”

 
 

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