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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

HomeTeam 25: Wrestling rankings for Tampa Bay

Anthony Artalona is one of Tampa Prep's state title contenders this season.


Anthony Artalona is one of Tampa Prep's state title contenders this season.



*Previous ranking in parentheses

1. (1) Brandon

Up next: Class 2A, District 7 championships at Armwood, 10:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: It’s quite obvious that Class 2A will again have the Eagles to deal with, considering 10 of the athletes in the Brandon lineup are state-ranked and three are the incoming favorites to win state titles in their respective weight classes, including Kyle Norstrem (126 pounds), Frankie Bruno (138), and Joe Marcano (195). Brandon went 42-0 in duals during the regular season and capped the season with a team title and four individual championships (Trey Lane, Norstrem, Bruno, Marcano) at the 32nd annual Ippolito Memorial. The Eagles won their 44th Hillsborough County title over the weekend and are comfortably the top team in the area, but could get a real push from Fort Myers' Riverdale and Boca Raton's Olympic Heights for the state title.

2. (2) Dixie Hollins

Up next: Class 2A-9 championships at Dixie Hollins, 9:30 a.m. Friday

Scoop: Led by seven state-ranked wrestlers, the Rebels have had strong showings throughout the season, but there is not one state favorite in the lineup. They recently topped eighth-ranked (2A) Belleview 36-27 in a dual and won their first Pinellas County Athletic Conference title since 1979. With the postseason about to begin, individual performances are going to become more crucial. Dixie Hollins had eight wrestlers that were one match from state a year ago and the Rebels could break through with a big state turnout this year. They'll have the battle through the brutal 2A-9 district that is home to Dunedin and East Lake, and face that same region that ate them up last year. The Rebels will rely on Liam Ward (113), Drew Harrington (126), Zack Addis (138), Dalton Busch (160), Brandon Nevitt (182), Clifton Thomas (195) and Jesse Smith (285), among others. Coleman Bryant (132) is a dark horse who bested a very tough Gavin Mitchiner in the PCAC finals. Thomas won his third PCAC title and improved to 46-0 on the season.

3. (4) Jesuit

Up next: Class 2A-8 championships at Jesuit, 10 a.m. Satuday

Scoop: A top-five finish at the stacked Clay Rotary Invitational last week and a runnerup finish at the Live Greco Invite were big steps for the Tigers. A number of the team’s standouts are about to start their trek toward individual state titles. Freshman Jacob Conrad (126) will have his hands full with Brandon’s Kyle Norstrem at regionals and state, but Adam Lewis (145), fellow freshman Julian Ramirez (152) and Brian Buser (182) are favorites. Quality trumps quantity through the state series and the Tigers could very well be the second-best Tampa Bay finisher. has the Tigers ranked fourth and the Rebels seventh. Thomas Mooney (195) is also a former state qualifier and will be fighting for a medal next month.

4. (5) East Lake

Up next: Class 2A-9 championships at Dixie Hollins, 9:30 a.m. Friday

Scoop: Since winning both the Pasco Tough Team Duals and Anclote Challenge, the Eagles have been in a battle with area teams. They topped host PHU in a dual 41-28 before placing third at Live Greco. In the constant back-and-forth with PHU, the Eagles topped them at PCAC over the weekend, taking the runnerup spot behind Dixie Hollins and crowning three county champions (Josh McGinnis, George Hall, Julian Santos). The Eagles have 10 seniors in their lineup. This is their year to make waves as a likely state qualifier.

5. (3) Palm Harbor University

Up next: Class 3A,-8 championships at Manatee High, 10 a.m. Satuday

Scoop: After winning the Logan Kushner Memorial, the ’Canes showed just how strong they are as a lineup from top to bottom. With four undefeated grapplers at the event (Gabe Naranjo, Joe Capone, Gavin Mitchiner, Matt Westbay), PHU topped North Port and Lakewood Ranch in the final standings. At 113 pounds, Chris Fragale also won his weight class and the tournament runnerup was also from PHU, non-team scoring freshman Austin Jones. The ’Canes clipped district host Manatee 33-32 in a dual that same week and won the Live Greco Invite at Steinbrenner. While the ’Canes settled for third at PCAC, they crowned four individual champions, the same number as county champ Dixie. 

6. (7) Pasco

Up next: Class 2A-7 championships at Armwood, 10:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: As he seems to do every single season, Mark DeAugustino has his Pirates gaining momentum at the right time. A sixth-place finish at the Ippolito Memorial at Brandon placed the program ahead of many of the top Tampa Bay teams. The Pirates won their third-straight SAC title over the weekend with three individual champs (John DeAugustino, Lukas Twardosky, Nick Burt). Six state-ranked wrestlers will spark Pasco as the postseason begins, and with leaders such as Bryant Haire (120), DeAugustino (126), Twardosky (132) and Burt (285), the rest of the lineup will be held accountable.

7. (9) Indian Rocks Christian

Up next: Class A-11 championships at IRC, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Six state-ranked wrestlers make the Golden Eagles one of the preeminent teams in Class A. Again, quality counts in the state series and the Golden Eagles have a quintet of elite wrestlers. Both Michael Gingras (152) and Connor Allshouse (170) are potential title winners but will have Lake Highland Prep stars standing in their paths. Jack Pohler (132), Mitch Kerr (145) and Selby Stewart (195) will need to step up in order for IRC to make waves in the region and state tournaments. The Golden Eagles are ranked fifth in Class A by

8. (10) Tampa Prep

Up next: Class A-10 championships at Berkeley Prep, 11 a.m. Friday

Scoop: Ben Buhler (106), Ashton Habiel (132), Anthony Artalona (145) and Leo Tarantino (160) had very good runs at the Clay Rotary Invitational last weekend. Along with Aaron Mills (113), this group forms one of the most potent forces in Class A. Artalona and Tarantino are favorites to walk away with gold medals at state next month, while the rest, with a few upsets along the way, could find themselves in the same position. The Terrapins have been on the heels of IRC all year, taking second at the Jen Allshouse Memorial and holding a ranking of sixth. 

9. (11) Weeki Wachee

Up next: Class A-6 championships at Anclote, 10:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Talent is no issue at all for the Hornets. Brandon Smith (120) has broken school records over the course of the season, and he is joined by a motivated group that includes state-ranked Hunter Gibson (126), Brandon Enoch (138), Nathaniel DeJesus (160), Donte Young (170) and Dean Brooks (285). If there is one weak spot for the up-and-coming program, it would be experience. Pressure won’t be hard to find once this week’s district tournament starts.

10. (17) Riverview

Up next: Class 3A-7 championships at Sickles, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: In the deepest classification in the state, Riverview’s Kizhan Clarke is ready to make another run at a state championship. The senior was a state finalist last season and came up just short of his goal to PHU’s Jared Prince, who has since graduated. As the season has gone on, Jordan Forrest (113) and Tony Hernandez (152) have also made major impacts. The lineup is honing itself for a strong playoff run as they were runners-up at the Hillsborough County championships behind Brandon. Hernandez, Forrest and Clarke all made the final and Hernandez and Clarke were county champs. That trio could score some real points at states.

11. (8) Dunedin

Up next: Class 2A-9 championships at Dixie Hollins, 9:30 a.m. Friday


Scoop: The Falcons went 5-0 and won the Southeast Duals in Bradenton to finish the regular season 21-6. While the lineup is young, Dunedin’s coaching staff, led by Marc Allison, brings a great deal of experience to the table. Hunter Gast (120), Stephen Nicholls (126), Anthony Gnezdilov (132), Grant Cardwell (138), Brendan Ditro (145), Thomas Bujalski (152), Robbie Washam (170) and Jacob Stetz (220) have the ability to lead the Falcons all the way to Kissimmee next month. Nichols and Ditro have state-placer potential, with Ditro coming off a fifth-place state finish as a junior. Stetz won his 100th match at Palmetto and has eyes on a state medal. The Falcons settled for fourth at PCAC but Ditro broke through for his first county title, while Nichols was a finalist.

12. (20) Strawberry Crest

Up next: Class 3A-6 championships at George Jenkins, 11:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Coming into this season, everyone knew about Charger standouts Manny Ramirez (106) and Cullen Telfer (126). Both have good postseason experience headlined by Telfer’s state title as a freshman last year, but Strawberry Crest has taken large steps over the course of this season thanks to the emergence of its supporting cast. Andrew Burbridge (195) and David Cox (285) have gone from relative unknowns to state-ranked contenders in recent weeks.

13. (6) Springstead

Up next: Class 2A-5 championships at Belleview, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Since winning the Corey Hill Memorial Invitational last month, the Eagles’ home tournament, Springstead has had difficulty maintaining momentum. Saying that the Eagles would like to forget their performance in the Ippolito Memorial at Brandon would be a massive understatement. With both Tommy Barker (106) and Xzavier Ramos (113) both out for medical reasons, the Eagles could only muster a 12th-place finish, by far their worst placing at the tournament over the past decade.

14. (14) Lennard

Up next: Class 2A-8 championships at Jesuit, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: The Longhorns finished just behind Springstead at Ippolito, getting pushed to big points behind the performances of David Kirk (132) and Rowdy Driggers (285). Kirk won the individual championship at Brandon, besting the Eagles’ Lawrence Scrivens by decision in the finals. Driggers also won the Hillsborough County title. Lennard will need similar runs from the duo, along with state-ranked freshman Hunter Lefevre (113), to do well in Kissimmee next month.

15. (13) Nature Coast

Up next: Class A-6 championships at Anclote, 10:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: The Sharks’ fifth-place showing at the Logan Kushner Memorial was headlined by their usual standout, Anthony Contegiacomo (220). His 42-1 record with 29 pins will be a good jumping off point for the senior as he attempts to finish his career with a state title. Jordan Gibson (152) is on quite a run as well, winning 27 of his past 28 bouts. Keegan Davis (138) will also need to step up if Nature Coast is going to place in the team standings at district.

16. (16) Hillsborough

Up next: Class 2A-8 championships at Jesuit, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: At the Ippolito Memorial, the Terriers placed 21st out of 32 teams, but the real takeaway from the event was the individual title gained by Connor Knauer (182). At 42-2, the senior bested Venice’s Nick Vischulis 1-0 to win. Along with Jesuit’s Brian Buser, Knauer is a top contender for the state championship in his weight class.

17. (NR) Wesley Chapel

Up next: Class 2A-7 championships at Armwood, 10:30 a.m. Saturday


Scoop: The Wildcats finished only one point behind runnerup River Ridge at the Sunshine Athletic Conference last weekend. The presence of Emmanuel Torres (138) makes this team very dangerous with the postseason about to start. The junior surprised many and was one win from placing at state last year. He could make a stronger run this time around. Other state contenders for Wesley Chapel include Rudy Hajaistron (132) and Marcus Gillott (195).

18. (12) Hernando

Up next: Class A-6 championships at Anclote, 10:30 a.m. Saturday 

Scoop: Four state-ranked wrestlers are in the Leopard lineup, and this is a young squad that could make some waves at the district meet. Led by Dakota Ellerbee (132), Codey Maniates (145), Harry Williams (182), Abel Turkovich (195) and Robert Graves (285), they could all find themselves in contention for a state berth. Hernando hosted and was the runnerup to George Jenkins in the first Mountaineer Coffee Duals last weekend.

19. (19) Northside Christian

Up next: Class A-11 championships at Indian Rocks Christian, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Kamen Wilmington (160) has spent the better part of his prep career stuck in one of the most difficult weight classes in the state. In Class A, the junior will contend with Lake Highland Prep’s Bryce Rogers, Tampa Prep’s Leo Tarantino, and Cardinal Gibbons’ Michael Lopouchanski. The Mustangs’ success lies in the capable hands of Wilmington this postseason.

20. (15) Steinbrenner

Up next: Class 3A-7 championships at Sickles, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: The Warriors took fourth at their own Live Greco Invite in late January, topping many Hillsborough County teams. Anthony Vitale (106), Spencer Phillips (132) and Trey Tyree (138) are solid wrestlers with a good chance to make the state meet. Brett Behers (120) is the Warriors' best shot at a state medal along with Garrett Lund (195). Behers, ranked 10th in his class by, is 38-4 this season and was Hillsborough County champ.

21. (NR) Admiral Farragut

Up next: Class A-11 championships at Indian Rocks Christian, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: Much like Northside Christian’s Kamen Wilmington, Noah Farrelly (126) is facing an uphill climb this postseason. If he reaches the state tournament, the senior will have the likes of Lake Highland Prep’s Joey Silva, Tampa Prep’s Ashton Habiel and Clay’s Dale Browning to deal with. Jack Lescarbeau (138) is also ranked for the Blue Jackets.

22. (8) Land O'Lakes

Up next: Class 2A-8 championships at Jesuit, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: After going 1-2 at state last year, Jesse Seidl (170) returned this season with only one goal in mind: becoming the first Gator to win a state title since 2005. He stands fourth in the current state rankings for Class 2A behind Lawrence Kosoy from Olympic Heights and was the SAC champ over the weekend. Land O’Lakes will be powered this postseason by whatever Seidl can do, but he will have some help in Josh Spears (138), who recently found himself vaulted into the spotlight after a solid victory over Admiral Farragut’s Jack Lescarbeau.

23. (NR) Robinson

Up next: Class 2A-8 championships at Jesuit, 10 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: The Knights have been a middle-of-the-pack team but Chad Heidt (152) could push the medal stand at states. Heidt is 32-2 on the year, ranked sixth by in 2A and won the Hillsborough County title. The Knights also have Keyton McCoy (160) and Jaquan Jackson (182) set up as potential state qualifiers.

24. (NR) Wharton

Up next: Class 3A-7 championships at Sickles, 10 a.m. Saturday


Scoop: The Wildcats took sixth at the Live Greco meet and third at county. They have a pair of wrestlers in Austin Deffenbaugh (160) and Mykail Robinson (220) who could break through to state. Deffenbaugh was second at Live Greco and is 37-5, while Robinson won the 220 class at Live Greco, is 40-4 and was the county champ. Both are ranked in the top 11 in their respective weight classes.

25. (NR) Newsome

Up next: Class 3A-6 championships at George Jenkins, 11:30 a.m. Saturday

Scoop: The Wolves will likely take Sean Behrens (285) to state. Behrens was fourth at Ippolito and is ranked fifth by Tyler O'Brien (195) and Joe LeBarre (152) are potential state qualifiers.

On the bubble: Berkeley Prep, Boca Ciega, CCC, Durant, East Bay, Freedom, Gaither, Hudson, Northeast, River Ridge, Sickles, St. Petersburg

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 1:04pm]


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