Matanzas names veteran coach Dennis Kitko to take over wrestling program

Kitko won three state championships as a wrestler at Brandon High and coached at four Florida high schools.

New Matanas wrestling coach Dennis Kitko. Courtesy photo
New Matanas wrestling coach Dennis Kitko. Courtesy photo
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Matanzas High School took a first step toward rebuilding its wrestling program, naming Dennis Kitko as the new head coach.

Kitko had coached wrestling at four Florida high schools before moving to Japan two years ago where he has been the youth sports coordinator at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and taught at Zama Middle High School at Camp Zama Army Base outside of Tokyo.

He is currently relocating from Japan and will be on campus at Matanzas by the first day of school on Aug. 12, according to a June 21 Flagler Schools press release.

Dennis Kitko has been named the new head wrestling coach at Matanzas High School. Courtesy photo

Kitko is a 1993 graduate of Brandon High School where he won three state wrestling championships. He won five national championships in freestyle wrestling beginning at age 12. He wrestled at Cornell University where he was first-team All-Ivy League in 1995 and competed in the NCAA tournament.

He finished his bachelor’s degree at Florida State University in 1999 and received his master’s from FSU in educational leadership in 2003. While in Tallahassee he coached at Leon and Godby high schools.

Kitko coached wrestling at Durant High School in Plant City from 2003 to 2012, winning three regional titles and eight district titles. Before moving overseas, he coached at Bloomingdale High in Valrico from 2018 to 2022.

Four Matanzas wrestlers have won state championships during the past three seasons, including Jordan and Mariah Mills this past season. The Pirates won the girls state wrestling championship in 2023 and placed third in 2022 and 2024.

But the entire coaching staff resigned at the end of the school year. Head coach Mike Fries had submitted his resignation during the season to take effect at the end of the year, but he later tried to rescind his resignation. When the school’s administration decided not to tear up his resignation, the wrestling program’s five assistant coaches also resigned.

In the school district's news release, Kitko said he is eager to get started.

“Building upon the longstanding success and tradition of this program is a challenge I’m looking forward to,” Kitko said. “Success on the mats, in the classroom and in our community will be key to help us focus on the development of character and integrity among our boys and girls rosters.”


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