LAKELAND — For the entire first day at the state wrestling championships, Springstead was in control of the team standings and looked to be primed for its third straight Class 2A state title.
The Eagles (48 points) came to the Lakeland Center on Friday boasting nine state qualifiers, and all nine were still alive at the end of the first day despite some notable hiccups.
Conor Ross (170 pounds) was the favorite to walk away with the individual title in his weight class, but after a pin in three minutes, 57 seconds over Dixie Hollins’ Luis Aldana, the tables were turned on him by St. Augustine’s David Martinez. Ross attempted a head-in-arm takeover, but Martinez fell on top of him for the pin in 5:44.
In total, only Matt Landgraff (106), Mike McDonald (113) and Jordan Rivera (138) reached this morning’s semifinals as the Eagles maintained a 3.5-point advantage over second-place Lake Gibson. That is the lowest program total since the team had three wrestlers reach the semifinals in 2008. Only Schuyler Swanton took gold for Springstead that year.
Nature Coast is having its best showing at state, with Sean Nguyen (106) and Brandon Vovan (160) attempting to become the first champions in school history. Nguyen is on a collision course for a finals match with Landgraff, his longtime rival.
Fivay has also advanced three to the semifinals in Class A, and the Falcons came within a few points of pushing five wrestlers through to the next round.
Troy Reed (120) had one of the most difficult draws in the field, and after upsetting Cardinal Gibbons’ Jamal Morris, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at that weight class, he ran into a familiar foe in the quarterfinals. Wesley Chapel’s Tony Ruggerio ended Reed’s run with an 8-6 decision.
Andrew Scherer (145), Collin Hahn (182) and Kelly Meus (285) will have the opportunity to become the first Falcons to stand atop the podium as state champions.
Ruggiero will be joined in the semifinals by Wildcats teammate Jon Galvin (126), who has stunned some with consecutive one-point victories to advance.
Pasco is armed with two semifinalists as well, with Skyler White (138) and Zach Jordan (220) boasting some convincing victories Friday to clinch spots on the podium.
Pairings for Day 2 of the state wrestling tournament can be found at fhsaa.org/sports/wrestling. Click “Brackets.”