Mike Fries is officially Matanzas' new girls head wrestling coach.
Unofficially, his role won't change too much. As an assistant coach with the Pirates last season, Fries coached both the boys and girls wrestlers. He'll continue to do that.
"We ran both programs as one last year. We practice together, we do everything together as one team."
"We ran both programs as one last year," he said. "We practice together, we do everything together as one team. It's a co-ed sport up until duals."
Matanzas is one of a few high schools in the state that has a separate head coach for boys and girls wrestling. John White started the Pirates' girls wrestling program in 2018, two years before it became a state sanctioned sport.
At the Florida High School Athletic Association's first girls state wrestling championships this past season, Matanzas finished in third place, one point out of second. And freshman Tiana Fries, Mike's daughter, became the school's first girls state wrestling champ.
White stepped down as head coach after the season to spend more time with his family and concentrate on his job as the Pirates' head dean.
Boys head coach T.J. Gillin said Mike Fries deserves a lot of the credit for the team's success in 2022.
"He pulled girls out of the hallway, and made them love wrestling," Gillin said.
The girls team had 18 first-year wrestlers this past season, and returns 22 wrestlers, including four who placed at state: Tiana Fries (110-pound champ), Mariah Mills (third, 105 pounds), Isabella Tietje (sixth, 135 pounds) and Christina Borgmann (eighth, 120 pounds).
"We're convinced we're the program to beat now," Gillin said.
Mike Fries is the only high school wrestler in Volusia-Flagler County history to reach the state finals in four seasons. It's an achievement he'll try to help his daughter match.
He was a two-time runner-up and a two-time state champ at Flagler Palm Coast from 1996-1999. He was Seabreeze's head wrestling coach for three seasons before he joined Matanzas' staff last year.
"Coach White really laid a foundation for girls wrestling in Florida and at Matanzas," Mike Fries said. "Before this sport was sanctioned, they stipened (for a head coaching position), so not only did Coach White build it, but the administration supported it."
"This might sound arrogant, but we think we have the best coaching staff in the state of Florida, and it's going to stay that way."
T.J. GILLIN, Matanzas boys head wrestling coach
Jeremiah Marschka will continue to be an assistant coach, and Gillin and Fries are planning to hire three more assistants.
"The (school) district allots us a head coach and two assistants for the boys team and a head coach and two assistants for the girls team," Gillin said. "We're very fortunate to be given those stipends."
The Pirates are close to hiring one of those assistants, a recent lightweight college wrestler, Gillin said.
"This might sound arrogant, but we think we have the best coaching staff in the state of Florida, and it's going to stay that way," Gillin said. "We'll pretty much have a coach for every weight class."
Mike Fries has also coached club wrestling for 15 years and continues to coach wrestlers from kindergarten through 12th grade with Legend Athletics.
"Mike brings in Legend Athletics, which will continue to fuel our program in the future," Gillin said.
With two full teams, the Pirates are outgrowing their wrestling room. But they have a plan for that too, to expand in the future into a larger room with two mats, Fries said.