NEW PORT RICHEY — Clay’s victory in the 12th annual Gulf Holiday Duals wrestling meet on Saturday marked the first time a team has won back-to-back team titles since Springstead’s run to five out of six championships between 2005 and 2010.
While the field was not as large as last year (19 instead of 23), the quality was much improved, with six state-ranked squads in the mix. The Blue Devils defeated Crystal River 42-30 to defend their title. The top North Suncoast finisher was Pasco in third.
Clay, the Class A runnerup each of the past three seasons, had little resistance in winning Pool A over Citrus eighth place overall) and Land O’Lakes (sixth).
Pasco won Pool D, lost in the semifinals but beat Dunedin 41-33 in the consolation final.
Crystal River won Pool C, which included Nature Coast (seventh place). Anthony Contegiacomo (220) went 6-0 for the Sharks.
Le’Shaun Gray (160) lost only one bout, and Mark Espinosa (126) lost twice, both against state qualifiers from a year ago in Fivay’s Cole Manion and Crystal River’s Michael Allen.
Many of Nature Coast’s losses came via forfeit because the Sharks had only 10 wrestlers for the 14 weight classes. In a loss to Land O’Lakes, Nature Coast won five individual matches to the Gators’ three, but forfeits cost the Sharks the dual.
“We’re just not a duals team this year,” Nature Coast coach Mike Lastra said. “You have to be able to fill all the weight classes, and we’re just not able to do that right now.”
The Pool B title went to Dunedin (fourth) over Mitchell (fifth).
Host Gulf finished in 10th place with five first-year wrestlers competing for first-year coach Mike Calafiore. To top it off, the team’s top returner, Jarred Kruse (182) has struggled with a knee injury after surgery during the offseason. He is still not 100 percent and has been inconsistent.
“It’s kind of rough right now,” Calafiore said. “I have a lot of confidence in Jarred, and he’s making big strides. I really believe he’ll be ready in January and February.”
Brandon victory: Brandon wrestlers went 9-for-9 in individual finals as the Eagles won the team title at the USMC Seahawk Slam in Savannah, Ga., in their first trip to the meet that features some of the top programs in the country. The Eagles (341.5 points) easily beat runnerup Camden County, Ga., 341.5 points to 231.5.
Individual champions included Frankie Bruno (106), Ty Lucas (126), Dylan Lucas (132), Devan Berrian (138), Troy Joyce (145), Dakota Greene (160), Dontae McGee (170) and Robert Enmon (220). Kyle Norstrem (113 pounds) was named most outstanding wrestler after going 5-0 with every match decided by a technical fall or pin.