Wrestling: Springstead third at Kiwanis Invitational
BROOKSVILLE - As Lake Gibson and Belleview battled for victory in the 34th annual Kiwanis Championships at Hernando High on Saturday, the subplot taking place in the top five was the fight between Hernando County programs Springstead and Weeki Wachee.
Lake Gibson eventually won the title with 205 points, but after more than a decade of local supremacy, Springstead was being challenged by another county program in the standings for the first time in years.
The Eagles had won eight consecutive Kiwanis team titles and three state championships in that span before losing the local tournament to Pasco last season. Springstead was still considered the cream of the crop prior to Sal Basile's resignation last year to take the head job at Jesuit.
"When Sal left, I knew I had a tall task in front of me," Mike LaRocca said. "These kids were focused and worked all summer long, and we saw the results (in this tournament)."
In his first season at the helm, LaRocca was confident in his team prior to the semifinals on Saturday morning, despite the team being behind Weeki Wachee after the first day.
His confidence was rewarded as Springstead stormed back, placing two in the finals with Tommy Barker (106 pounds) and Richie Rivera (113) both earning their spots. Barker (4-0) came through with an 11-0 major decision over Tampa Prep's Brian Buhler (12-2) for his first Kiwanis crown. Rivera (3-1) fell in a narrow 3-2 decision to Lake Gibson's Diamonte Perry (4-1).
The Hornets also had two in the championship round with Brandon Enoch (138) and Nathaniel DeJesus (160) leading the way. Enoch (10-3) was unable to capture his title, falling 5-4 to Belleview's Jessen Hendrix (13-0). DeJesus (12-1) took his first loss of the campaign in an 8-1 decision to Tampa Prep's Leo Tarantino (7-0).
Weeki Wachee (144 points) knocked on the door but was narrowly defeated in the final standings by Springstead (153), which finished third. The Hornets finished in fifth, losing ground to Bishop Moore (150.5) in the last round.
Defending champion Pasco (134.5) was strong again, pushing three into the finals. John DeAugustino (126), Lukas Twardosky (132) and Nick Burt (285) represented the Pirates well. Each reached the state tournament last season.
Twardosky (8-0) followed up a runnerup finish in 2014 with a place atop the medal stand this year after his 8-0 major decision over Lake Gibson's Clayton Leach (7-2). DeAugustino (8-0) was in his first Kiwanis final, but came through with a strong showing, winning a tight 4-3 decision to Tampa Prep's Ashton Habiel (12-3). Burt (8-1) capped a solid effort with a similar run to Twardosky. The senior was a runnerup last year but won this weekend in a 5-0 decision over Belleview's Jordan Ortega (11-1).
Despite being without state finalist Anthony Contegiacomo (220), who was taking his ACT exam on Saturday morning, Nature Coast surprised many with the performance of Jordan Gibson (152). Gibson (11-1) reached the finals before losing 13-1 to Bishop Moore's Ryan Violette (5-0), one of the top competitors in the state.
Other locals to reach the championship round were Sunlake's Ronnie Estep (195) and Land O'Lakes' Jesse Seidl (170). Seidl (13-0) maintained his undefeated early-season record with a 4-3 decision over Gaither's Brad Bolesta (8-1).
34th annual Kiwanis Invitational
106 - Tommy Barker, Springstead maj dec Ben Buhler, Tampa Prep, 11-0.
113 - Diamonte Perry, Lake Gibson dec Richie Rivera, Springstead, 3-2.
120 - Devin Kohn, Bishop Moore dec Kyle Irwin, Belleview, 4-1.
126 - John DeAugustino, Pasco dec Ashton Habiel, Tampa Prep, 4-3.
132 - Lukas Twardosky, Pasco maj dec Clayton Leach, Lake Gibson, 8-0.
138 - Jessen Hendrix, Belleview dec Brandon Enoch, Weeki Wachee, 5-4.
145 - Christian Febus, Lake Gibson dec Bradley Kata, Bishop Moore, 1-0, OT.
152 - Ryan Violette, Bishop Moore maj dec Jordan Gibson, Nature Coast, 13-1.
160 - Leo Tarantino, Tampa Prep dec Nathaniel DeJesus, WeekI Wachee, 8-1.
170 - Jesse Seidl, Land O'Lakes dec Brad Bolesta, Gaither, 4-3.
182 - Malachi Ortiz, Belleview dec Eddie Bennis, Crystal River, 7-1.
195 - Jaret Flynn, Crystal River forfeit Ronnie Estep, Sunlake.
220 - Devan Lopez-Rojas, Lake Gibson dec Leonard Jacobs, Belleview, 3-1.
285 - Nick Burt, Pasco dec Jordan Ortega, Belleview, 5-0.
1. Lake Gibson 205
2. Belleview 164
3. Springstead 153
4. Bishop Moore 150.5
5. Weeki Wachee 144
6. Pasco 134.5
7. Crystal River 124
8. Hernando 99.5
9. Citrus 95.5
10. Tampa Prep 77.5
11. Land O'Lakes 74
12. West Port 62.5
13. Sunlake 59
14. Gaither 55
15. Boca Ciega 54
16. Jesuit 53.5
17. Wesley Chapel 52
18. Nature Coast 51
19. The Villages 48.5
20. River Ridge 39
21. Sarasota Military 38.5
22. Hudson 36
23. Wiregrass Ranch 35
24. Clearwater Central Catholic 29
25. Auburndale 25
26. Ocala Trinity Catholic 20
27. Gulf 15.5
28. Citrus Park Christian 9
29. Lecanto 8
30. Zephyrhills 7
31. Ridgewood 0