Wrestler of the Year: Mike McDonald, Jr., Springstead
Why we picked him: Not only was McDonald (44-0) the lone undefeated state champion on the North Suncoast, he was the lone undefeated wrestler in the area much of the season. And he notched an impressive comeback at state. He was down 5-2 with only 28 seconds to go in his match with Brandon’s Ty Lucas, a multiple-time national champion. McDonald registered a reversal for two points, and knowing the situation, released Lucas immediately to make the score 6-4. He then took him down again as the clock hit 0:00 to tie the bout at 6-6. Less than 30 seconds into overtime, he got another takedown for the victory and title.
Most impressive accomplishments: McDonald has qualified for state three straight years. He has a 124-16 record for his career, 62 wins behind the all-time school record held by 2012 graduate Cody Ross (186).
Did you know? McDonald, who has been part of the Spring Hill Wrestling Club since he was 6, always dreamed of the day he would wear a gold medal in Lakeland. By midseason at the Springstead Invitational, McDonald was ready for state: “When I’m at my best, I know I can beat anyone out there. The only person that can stop me is me.” Victories by him and teammate Jordan Rivera at the Lakeland Center resulted in Springstead’s 27th and 28th individual state titles dating to 1991.
Coach of the Year
Sal Basile, Springstead. One season after capturing a third straight state title, all the coins were flipping the wrong way for the Eagles. Basile lost a state title contender at 170 pounds when Conor Ross tore his ACL during football season. He lost another title contender at regionals when 106-pounder Matt Landgraff didn’t make weight. Even with those major hits, Springstead finished with three in the state finals and two champions. Basile’s coaching through a strenuous season put the Eagles third in Class 2A.
106: Matt Landgraff, Jr., Springstead, 44-3. Landgraff was unable to compete at regionals after missing weight. Until that point, he was by far the most dominant wrestler in his weight class and a favorite to win state.
113: Jarred Lanier, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch, 47-7. Became only the second Bull to medal at state, placing fifth in Class 2A.
120: Cole Manion, Sr., Fivay, 47-12. After losing in the second round to state finalist Ty Lucas, Manion won three of his next four bouts to place fifth in Class 2A.
126: Jon Galvan, Sr., Wesley Chapel, 45-3. Galvan maintained an undefeated record for more than half the season. But in the Class A meet, he placed third after falling one win short of the finals.
132: Andrew Smith, Jr., Springstead, 44-8. Smith came within an eyelash of the state finals, losing his semifinal bout in overtime; he went on to place third.
138: Skyler White, Jr., Pasco, 36-8. A second-round loss to Tampa Prep’s Leo Tarantino kept him out of the Class A finals a second straight year, but he still took fourth place.
145: Jordan Rivera, Sr., Springstead, 38-4. Rivera was the North Suncoast’s lone repeat state champ. The 2013 Times’ Wrestler of the Year caught momentum midway through the season and medaled all four years at state.
152: Jonte Scott, Jr., Anclote, 45-6. Scott became the first Anclote wrestler to qualify for state (along with Brandon McQuinn), the first to win a match in Lakeland and the first state placer (third).
160: Brennan Ertl, Sr., Hernando, 42-12. Ertl found inspiration in the leukemia diagnosis of a friend and parlayed that into a silver medal in Lakeland.
170: Billy Swift, Jr., Springstead, 38-9. Shifted from 160 to 170 pounds during the season and found success. He narrowly lost 8-7 to Brandon’s Dontae McGee in the 2A final.
182: Brandon Brown, Sr., Central, 32-4. Brown’s third-place showing in Class A was the first medal a Bear had won at state since 2003.
195: Corey Humphrey, Sr., Springstead, 38-9. Though he went 1-2 at state, he was consistent during the season for the Eagles.
220: Jesse Gaudin, Sr., Hernando, 49-3. After placing third in 2A a year ago, Gaudin’s success continued with Hernando’s move to Class A. But this time he won the gold medal he had been chasing.
285: Andrew Ivie, Jr., Pasco, 46-4. A standout defensive lineman for the football team, Ivie was also dominant on the mat. He registered four straight pins to win his region title and pinned four of six opponents at state in less than two minutes on his way to third place in Class A.
106: Lukas Twardosky, So., Pasco, 40-8
113: Brandon McQuinn, Sr., Anclote, 38-9
120: Dante Padilla, Sr., Weeki Wachee, 54-12
126: Mark Espinosa, Jr., Nature Coast, 46-21
132: Jesus Nieves, Sr., Weeki Wachee, 50-10
138: Josh Brooks, Jr., Mitchell, 47-6
145: Robert Napolitano, Sr., Gulf, 37-10
152: Aaron Youpa, Sr., Mitchell, 43-9
160: Andrew Scherer, Sr., Fivay, 53-4
170: Le’Shaun Gray, Jr., Nature Coast, 36-14
182: Nicco Lightfoot, Sr., Fivay, 41-8
195: Drake Carson, So., Hudson, 19-12
220: Anthony Contegiacomo, So., Nature Coast, 52-14
285: Anthony Vines, Sr., Weeki Wachee, 53-7
Anclote: Jaekwon Forde (126); Fivay: Joey Zizzo (106), Jose Morales (113); Gulf: Jarred Kruse (182), Kenny Hayes (220); Land O’Lakes: Luis Casado (120), Carlos Osorno (132), Cedric Lowe (170), Darryus Lowe (220); Mitchell: Trevor Maples (145), Storm Schenk (160); Nature Coast: Joey DeFranco (132), Raivyn Alicea (145), Frank Ritchie (195); Pasco: Tyler Bridenstine (132), Maleak Dawkins (145), T.J. Maple (160), Johnathan Coats (182), Nick Burt (220); River Ridge: Max Reynolds; Springstead: Vincent Buonanno (160); Sunlake: Caleb Dixon (170), Oasin Speicher (195); Weeki Wachee: Brandon Smith (106); Wesley Chapel: Nathan Love (182); Wiregrass Ranch: Max Quinones (132)