SPRING HILL – Springstead, which has won two consecutive state championships, is looking for a new wrestling coach after Eric Swensen stepped down.
Swensen informed the school Monday that he was resigning immediately to relocate to Minnesota and spend more time with his family.
“My wife and I have been talking about moving for some time, but before now, it was just talk,” Swensen said. “She took a couple interviews (in Minnesota) this summer, and last week she got a job offer we just couldn’t pass up.”
Swensen was handpicked by athletic director Bob Levija after a nationwide search in 2004 after the athletic director stepped down from the same position in 2003. During Levija’s 24 years at the helm Springstead became a state power, crowning nine state champions and finishing as high as third in the state tournament.
“I’m crushed,” Levija said.
The Eagles became a national power during Swensen's tenure. In addition to 16 state champions, Springstead has won back-to-back team titles. Hernando County athletics had only five state championships in almost a century when Swensen took the job. The team was ranked among the best programs in the country by USA Magazine on a regular basis the past three seasons.
Swensen, a wrestler at Springfield (Mass.) College, accrued 101 dual victories in his tenure, including undefeated campaigns the past three seasons. Alumni Nick Soto (Tennessee-Chattanooga) and Schuyler Swanton (Virginia Tech) have gone on to compete at the Division I level.
“The future of Springstead wrestling is solid,” Swensen said. “Matt (Landgraff), Mikey (McDonald) and Conor (Ross) will be great for years.”
Springstead posted the position on the FHSAA site Tuesday. Longtime assistant and former Springstead wrestler Sal Basile will stay on and is likely to take the position if the school cannot find a candidate who fits the Eagles’ system.
“The transition will be much easier for the kids with Sal staying on,” Swensen said. “He has already said that he would take over the team, but he really enjoys coaching youth wrestling.”
Basile was named the USA Wrestling Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for 2011 and is one of the backbones of the Eagles' work on endurance and technical wrestling.