Several Matanzas girls wrestlers had been sick during the week leading up to the Lady Pirate Classic on Saturday, Jan. 14. That didn’t seem to affect the outcome as the second-ranked Pirates dominated their home tournament, just as they have been dominating the competition most of the season.
“We had a lot of sickness running through our team,” coach Mike Fries said. “Girls missed practice all week, not feeling well at all. But they put their heart and soul into winning. They’re not 100%, but they wrestled like they’re 100%.”
Five Matanzas wrestlers won their weight classes as the Pirates won the 17-team tournament, 221-173 over runner-up Orlando Dr. Phillips. Eighty-six wrestlers competed in the tourney.
Matanzas’ Brielle Bibla, the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 130 pounds, won her weight class with four pins, three of them in 24 seconds or less. Second-ranked Christina Borgmann, who was one of four Matanzas wrestlers to place at state last year, recorded five pins to win the 120-pound title.
The state’s top-ranked 120-pounder — Kailani Barrientos of Oakleaf — also wrestled in the tourney but moved up to 125 pounds, where she defeated Matanzas sophomore Tiana Fries, 3-0, in the championship match.
The Pirates’ other weight-class winners at the tourney were Mariah Mills, who improved to 25-3 on the season with three pins in the 110-pound class; Kendall Bibla in the 140-pound class; and Ani Brown in the 235-pound class.
Bibla sisters thriving at Matanzas
The Pirates returned all four wrestlers who placed at the first FHSAA girls state championships last year, led by Tiana Fries who won the state title at 110 pounds.
This year, they’ve added sisters Brielle and Kendall Bibla to their lineup. Brielle, a senior, will wrestle at Presbyterian College in South Carolina next year. Presbyterian is one of just four NCAA schools with a Division I women’s wrestling program.
Brielle and Kendall — who is a sophomore — have backgrounds in taekwondo and Brazilian jiu jitsu. Brielle joined Nease High School’s wrestling team as a freshman. She started as the only girl on the team and earned the 106-pound spot without any prior wrestling experience. Last year, she transferred to first-year school Tocoi Creek, with Kendall joining her.
Brielle was the state runner-up at 120 pounds last season, but she decided to transfer for her senior year because she felt she wasn't properly prepared for the championship match, which she lost by a 12-5 decision to Dr. Phillips’ Juliana Diaz.
“I wasn’t prepared for who I was facing. I would go to practice, and I wouldn’t sweat. There was not enough intensity in the room. I beat all the boys up to 180 pounds.”
— BRIELLE BIBLA
“I wasn’t prepared for who I was facing,” she said. “I would go to practice, and I wouldn’t sweat. There was not enough intensity in the room. I beat all the boys up to 180 pounds.”
Brielle, Kendall and their parents, Thomas and Lindsay Bibla, decided the girls would be better off if they were home-schooled and wrestled at Matanzas, which is one of the few schools in the state with a full girls wrestling team.
The Pirates placed third at state last year, one point behind runner-up Ponte Vedra. They are expected to compete with defending state champ Freedom High School of Orlando for this year’s championship.
But it was the coaching that convinced the family to make the 45-minute drive to Matanzas each day.
“Tocoi is just down the street from us, but I’ve fallen in love with Coach Fries,” said Thomas Bibla, who in the past has handled most of his daughters’ coaching. “He’s a harder style of coach, and I’m an old-school guy. The whole coaching staff is so on-point, keeping team unity and team spirit and emphasizing sportsmanship.”
Thomas Bibla and his brother, Martin Bibla, a former University of Miami and Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman, began training in jiu jitsu in the 1990s. Thomas has never wrestled. However, Lindsay comes from a wrestling family. Her brothers were both wrestlers who went on to become wrestling coaches. But back when Lindsay was in high school, girls did not wrestle.
“They love the winning atmosphere here. ... Having partners in the room that can score on them and give them matches during the course of the day is really huge for them. You just see how happy these kids are, walking around tournaments with their teammates and everything.”
— MIKE FRIES on the Bibla sisters
“That was unheard of then,” she said. “I was a cheerleader.”
Brielle, who has a 27-2 record this season, said joining the Pirates and wrestling for Mike Fries was the best decision she has made.
“It’s not easy for me to trust anybody coaching me besides my father,” she said. “But Coach Fries is the best. He’s like a father figure. And now that we’re home-schooling, I recommend it. You can cater your education with your athletic needs.”
Kendall Bibla is also thriving. She has an 18-3 record and is ranked third in the state at 140 pounds.
“Wrestling is a passion for me,” Kendall said. “When I saw how successful my sister was, I tried it, and it changed my whole life. I’ve always been the girl that was quiet. It changed my whole personality.”
“They love the winning atmosphere here,” Mike Fries said of the Bibla sisters. “They’re not just the only girls on the team that are good. Having partners in the room that can score on them and give them matches during the course of the day is really huge for them. You just see how happy these kids are, walking around tournaments with their teammates and everything. I’m glad they found us, and I’m glad it’s all working out for them.”