MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Co-Wrestlers of the Year
Cody Ross, Sr., Springstead (44-3)
Why we picked him: Ross’ focus is unmatched. As a freshman, he reached the state finals before losing to one of only two five-time state champions in Florida history, Brandon’s Rossi Bruno. Since then, he reeled off three straight state titles, including this season’s win at 152 pounds — a two-class bump from last season.
Most impressive accomplishments: Ross’ accomplishments are countless. His three state titles are tied for most by a North Suncoast wrestler, along with former teammate Richie Bliss (2008-11) and Hernando’s Addison Chipoletti (2003-05). He holds the Springstead record for most victories in school history with 186, smashing Matt Booker’s mark of 162.
Did you know? Ross is a six-time All-American with two national championships. There are a number of Division I programs knocking down his door, including N.C. State, Ohio State and Buffalo, but Duke is his top choice right now.
John Dreggors, Sr., Springstead (29-0)
Why we picked him: It isn’t easy being a favorite for a state title from the start of the season, then meeting expectations by winning gold at the Lakeland Center in February. The pressure was too much in the past, but this time he was flawless.
Most impressive accomplishments: Dreggors has been named to six All-America lists, including four national championships, in his high school career, but points to his Springstead achievements as most important. As a junior, he tied Gerard DeCristofaro’s school record for pins in a season with 39. As a senior he was ranked 10th in the country at 285 pounds according to Amateur Wrestling News poll, the foremost authority on the sport nationally.
Did you know? After getting stuck and pinned in the 2011 state finals, a hardened, more mature Dreggors went undefeated and knocked off Olympic Heights’ Mike Kosoy 5-3 in overtime for gold. … Dreggors was just invited to train for the next two years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., as a full-time resident starting at the end of April. When he’s done, he’ll transfer to a Division I college.
106: Sean Nguyen, Jr., Nature Coast, 52-8. Nguyen set the single-season school record for wins while placing fourth in Class 2A, the Sharks’ first season in the classification.
113: Troy Reed, Jr., Fivay, 46-16. The first-time state qualifier led the team in wins and, along with a number of other underclassmen, has the Falcons’ future looking solid.
120: J.P. Gamez, Sr., Pasco, 50-8. Became the seventh Pirates state champion in his fourth trip to Lakeland with an 8-7 decision over Lake Highland Prep’s Anthony Petrone.
126: Jordan Rivera, So., Springstead, 36-6. Even in one of the state’s toughest weight classes, Rivera finished third for the second straight year.
132: Josh Herrera, Fr., Springstead, 30-3. After an accomplished USA wrestling career before high school, became one of two Eagles freshmen to reach the state finals this season.
138: Elliott Morales, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch, 50-8. Against difficult Class 3A competition, Morales held his own, gaining a first-round win at state before falling in the consolation bracket.
145: Sean Redman, Sr., Springstead, 43-4. Nicknamed “Buddha” mostly because of early career issues with staying at his specified weight, his newfound focus resulted in the senior becoming one of the school’s 25 state champions.
152: Nick Popolillo, Sr., Wesley Chapel, 49-5. Captain of the Wildcats finished fourth in the state while helping the team to a region runnerup trophy and district title.
160: Spencer Baxter, Jr., Gulf, 50-4. The Bucs lost a lot of talent the past two seasons, but Baxter stepped up and placed third in Class A while leading the team in wins.
170: Conor Ross, Fr., Springstead, 35-9. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Conor also reached the state finals as a freshman, finishing second.
182: Ernesto Padilla, Sr., Springstead, 12-7. When districts rolled around, Padilla stepped up to fill this weight class and not only qualified for state, but won two matches.
195: Thomas Gupton, Sr., Springstead, 40-3. “Gump’s” dedication the past four years finally paid off with runnerup finish at state.
220: Mike Hahn, Sr., Fivay, 43-2. The only Fivay state qualifier before this season, Hahn spent most of the year undefeated until losses to Lake Highland Prep’s Carter Shipley at regionals and state.
285: Kelly Meus, Jr., Fivay, 35-10. A third-place finish at regionals and a win at state were good enough to make him the second-most successful heavyweight on the North Suncoast.
106: Matt Landgraff, Fr., Springstead, 33-12
113: Mike McDonald, Fr., Springstead, 36-11
120: Sean Speer, Jr., Fivay, 38-7
126: Cameron Tull, Sr., Nature Coast, 42-13
132: Luis Espinosa, So., Nature Coast, 29-16
138: Joe Russo, Jr., Springstead, 34-11
145: Jeremy Qualls, Sr., Wesley Chapel, 42-14
152: Jared Young, Sr., Hernando, 37-12
160: Mitch Lambert, Sr., Nature Coast, 46-10
170: Carlos Carrasquillo, Sr., Nature Coast, 36-9
182: Nicco Lightfoot, So., Fivay, 40-4
195: Thomas Fee, Sr., Wesley Chapel, 29-10
220: Zack Jordan, Jr., Pasco, 44-14
285: Kenneth Hayes, So., Gulf, 25-14
Central: Puerto Rico Nieves (182); Fivay: Andrew Scherer (138), Colin Hahn (160), Dominick Grilli (170); Gulf: Anthony Agazarm (106), Forrest Swartsel (120), Robert Napolitano (132); Nature Coast: Carter Bolesta (145), Peter Holloman (195); Pasco: Skyler White (126), Niko DeAugustino (138); Ridgewood: Thomas Pearman (195); River Ridge: Dakota Arends (106); Springstead: Stephen Pavao (120); Sunlake: Wesley Wood (113), John Ortiz (120), Austin Lopez (182), Benjamin Franklin (285); Wesley Chapel: Tony Ruggiero (120), Diego Farchakh (220); Wiregrass Ranch: Kyle Koesling (113)
Coach of the Year
Eric Swensen, Springstead
One season after winning only the second state title in North Suncoast history, the Eagles dominated Class 2A again. The most impressive thing about Swensen and assistant Sal Basile’s coaching job may have been how they handled losing four state champions to graduation. Last season, Springstead won by just more than 20 points; this season, the Eagles won by almost 80.