Beach business helps North Bay Haven wrestling team go to nationals

A local high school wrestling team is chasing national glory - after pinning down a state championship earlier this month.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You’ve probably heard the saying: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In the case of North Bay Haven’s wrestling team, in order to win nationals, they first have to get there.

“In order for these kids not to miss too much school, and even me not to miss too much, we gotta try to fly, and that racks up money real quick, and then you’re talking hotels, gas, rental vans, entry fees to the tournaments - just this one event is going to be $6000,” said North Bay Haven wrestling coach, Zane Turnipseed.

The North Bay Haven squad has already proven they can handle adversity and deserve a chance to compete. Junior David Mercado won the Florida state championship earlier this month; becoming one of the first to do so from Bay County.

“These kids go all the way down to Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville to compete and earn their spots in these tournaments,” Turnipseed said. “So, they worked really hard taking that next step. The season ended a week and a half ago, and they’re already back in the gym, already back competing.”

Coach Turnipseed knows his guys have the skills and drive necessary to compete at a national level, but he also knows the program doesn’t necessarily have the funding. So, he called on some old friends at Shipwreck Island Water Park to see what they could do.

“I started working here about 15 years ago now, and just have known Will Lark and the people here for a long time just reached out and said ‘hey, is there any way you guys could help sponsor us?’” Turnipseed said.

According to Turnipseed, Shipwreck’s owner Will Lark never hesitated to lend a hand. He covered the cost of flights to the event, ensuring that the Bucs could continue to chase their dreams.

“What a great representation of our area as they go forward into the national championships and, uh, we couldn’t be [prouder] of them and Shipwreck Island’s really happy that they are a representation of us too,” said Shipwreck Island Water Park’s aquatic director, Wil Spivey.

It’s an investment both in the community and in the future of North Bay Haven’s student-athletes. Those who participate in the national championship in Virginia Beach will have the chance to compete in front of college recruiters and pin down a scholarship toward higher education.

The high school nationals will be held from April 23rd through the 25th. The North Bay Haven squad still needs a little bit more money to fund lodging and rental cars. If you feel inclined to help out, reach out to Zane Turnipseed here.