The group of Hillsborough and Hernando County wrestlers that made the trip to the 24th annual National High School Coaches of America Wrestling Championships this past weekend was staggering.
Competitors from Brandon (nine wrestlers), Springstead (five), Jesuit (two), Hernando (one) and Robinson (one) all performed excellently in the freshman, sophomore and junior tournaments.
Leading the way was Brandon freshman Kyle Norstrem, who took home the lone national championship for contingent. Norstrem, who placed eighth at the FILA Cadet World Championships in Azerbaijan in August, captured the 113-pound title by going 5-0 with three pins, a major decision and an 11-5 decision over Wyoming’s Trent Olson in the championship bout
Freshman teammate Geoff Doback also competed at 113 pounds, placing fifth and attaining All-American status. Doback, a multiple-time All-American already, went 4-2 over the course of the tournament with two pins before defeating Utah’s Benjamin Anderson in a 5-2 decision.
Jesuit freshman Adam Lewis, who went 44-2 this past season for the Tigers as the state runner-up, also made the trip, but fell short of his first All-American bid, going 2-2 at 132 pounds.
In sophomore competition, Springstead’s Conor Ross (170) and Brandon’s Dylan Lucas (126) each placed as national runners up. Ross fell in his title bout, pinned in three minutes, 46 seconds by Maryland’s Hunter Ritter, while Lucas was pinned by Missouri’s Jaydin Clayton in 5:40 in his championship match.
Ross joined his older brother Cody, a three-time state champion, as one of the seven wrestlers to ever achieve All-America status as an Eagle.
Brandon’s Troy Joyce (145) and Dakota Greene (152) also qualified for the All-American team as sophomores, reaching the consolation finals. Greene placed third with a 6-3 decision over Missouri’s Colston Diblasi, while Joyce lost to Maryland’s Cameron Harrell via a 3-2 decision to place fourth. Eagles’ sophomore Robert Enmon (220), who went 55-9 for Brandon last season, placed sixth at the tournament, also being named an All-American.
Springstead sophomores Matt Landgraff (106), Andrew Smith (126) and Billy Swift (160) also competed but all three went 2-2 in their brackets and did not place.
Brandon’s James Flint (120), who has won three state titles, led all local juniors at the event. He had the longest stretch of matches out of any local competitor, going 9-1 with a pin, three major decisions and a 1-0 decision over Connecticut’s Kevin Jack to finish third.
Jesuit’s Austin Underwood and Hernando’s Jesse Gaudin continued what has become a solid rivalry at the tournament. Underwood and Gaudin met in the state quarterfinals, a match won 4-3 by Underwood on the way to the Jesuit wrestler placing second and the Leopard placing third. Two months later in Virginia, the duo worked through some of the toughest 220-pounders in the country before meeting up in the seventh place finals after both had clinched All-American honors.
Underwood again got the best of Gaudin, this time pinning his opponent in 2:34. Although he lost, Gaudin became the first Leopard to ever be named an All-American.
Rounding out the area participants in the tournament were the following juniors: Brandon’s Devan Berrian (126) and Darren Lester (285), Robinson’s Luis Peguero (170), and Springstead’s Corey Humphrey (160). While none were able to place, Berrian, Peguero and Lester all won multiple matches against a deep field.