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Gulf Coast Grappling brings in “droves” of wrestlers from all over the Panhandle

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The high school wrestling season has winded down, but that doesn’t mean grapplers all across the Panhandle aren’t still looking to compete.

In downtown Panama City, wrestlers have found their home at Gulf Coast Grappling Academy. The sport of wrestling is on the incline.

The owner, Wesley Lumpkin, was a two time state champion wrestler in Georgia during his high school years, after his run in high school, he turned to coaching wrestling before getting more into Jiu Jitsu, which is where he found himself for the past ten years. It wasn’t until he started training North Bay Haven freshman, David Mercado, that he started to get back into coaching wresting. Mercado qualified for state in his first year competing in the sport, and Lumpkin figured he may have found his calling.

“I’m a local subcontractor. I still have to work for a living other than here, but definitely, this is where I belong, on the mats, coaching and teaching all day long is where I belong,” said Lumpkin.

The academy wasn’t always full. It wasn’t until, it was announced that they would be taking a few wrestlers to tournaments that students from all over piled onto the mats.

“I didn’t realize that there was such a hunger for it in the area,” said Lumpkin. “As you can see, we started out with maybe five kids a month ago, all the way up until we had tournament training last Sunday. It blew up on Facebook, and then Monday night, we had 30 kids on the mat. Every night, we’ve had consistently 30 kids every night this week. Once they got a hold of it and saw that we were committed to the student athletes, they’ve just been coming in in droves.”

This weekend, Lumpkin is taking a few of those wrestlers to Dayton, FL to compete.

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