LAKELAND — Each of the past five years, Springstead has left the Lakeland Center at least among the top five programs in the state, including three consecutive state titles.
That streak might be in jeopardy.
The Eagles had only four wrestlers in the championship bracket after Day 1 of the FHSAA Championships, including Michael McDonald (120 pounds), Andrew Smith (132), Jordan Rivera (145), and Billy Swift (170).
Those competitors will try to continue another run for Springstead, which has at least one individual state champ in seven straight seasons. Rivera (36-4) is the lone returning champion remaining from that run, and as a senior, he is determined to go out on a strong note.
“I feel like I’m going to win (another) state title or die trying,” Rivera said. “Nothing has changed from last year as far as attitude. I just think I have better mat awareness now.”
McDonald (42-0) has dominated all year and has shown no signs of slowing. The junior’s best finish in Lakeland was fifth place last year, but experience and talent are on his side after cruising to a 16-0 technical fall over Oakleaf’s Shawn Lanier and a injury default win over Fort Myers’ Colton Thomas in the second round.
Smith (42-7) and Swift (36-8) have been inconsistent, but both can reach finals if they’re on top of their games. Springstead will need all four to perform as the Eagles sat in fourth place in Class 2A with 39.5 points.
Hernando only brought two wrestlers, and both Brennan Ertl (160) and Jesse Gaudin (220) earned spots in the Class A semifinals. Ertl (41-11) has had an up-and-down season, but he is peaking at the right time, while Gaudin (47-3) is hoping to improve on his third place finish last year.
In Class A, Weeki Wachee’s Dante Padilla (120), a state qualifier last year who went 0-2 in the tournament, became the first Hornet to win a match in state history, pinning Wakulla’s Dy’Juan Carney in 2:29. Anclote’s Jonte Scott (152) accomplished the same feat for the Sharks, pinning Fernandina Beach’s Joseph Monaghan in 1:42. Both were still alive in the consolation bracket.
Wesley Chapel senior Jon Galvan (126) finished third in Class A last year, and with victories in his first two bouts Friday, he was on pace to equal or better that mark.
Wiregrass Ranch’s Jarred Lanier (113) also reached the 2A semifinals after decisions over Sarasota’s Chance Sharbono (5-2) and Orange Park’s Marcus Reid (8-4).
Also surviving into Day 2 in the consolation bracket were Pasco’s Lukas Twardosky (106), Skyler White (138) and Andrew Ivie (285), Gulf’s Robert Napolitano (145), Anclote’s Brandon McQuinn (113), River Ridge’s Max Reynolds (182), Fivay’s Andrew Scherer (160), Nicco Lightfoot (182) and Cole Manion (120), and Hudson’s Drake Carson (195).