Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

After wrestling alligator, high school football should be easy

BRANDON — Opponents beware. Those who line up across from Seffner Christian's Ryne Stromsnes this season might want to think twice about crossing the Crusaders' lineman. After all, the junior guard had quite a summer vacation.

Stromsnes 1, Alligator 0.

The story began in a remote area of Loyce E. Harpe Park in Mulberry. Stromsnes and his friend, Daniel Butler, were headed deep into the woods to do some mountain biking. As the pair pulled up in their truck to unload the bikes, a shirtless man in blue jeans approached the vehicle.

"He walked up to the window and asked if we had a knife," Stromsnes recalled. "He said a gator had just killed his dog and he wanted to go get it."

A knife? Stromsnes told Matthew Pope they didn't have one and that probably should have been the end of the already strange story.

"He asked me if I'd watch him," Stromsnes said. "Just in case something happened."

So a random stranger, who had just asked for a knife to exact revenge on a gator, now wanted the two boys to spot him along the shoreline while he tried to "take care of the gator" barehanded?

"Yep, pretty much," Stromsnes said. "He really wanted to get that gator."

The three walked down to the canal bank, and Pope dove in without pause. Stromsnes and Butler waited along the shoreline, but Pope had trouble locating the 8-foot gator.

"Then we saw him and he was using his other dog on the shore to lure him toward the bank," Stromsnes said.

What happened next was predictable. Pope tried to grab the gator, it wiggled free, whipped him with its tail and clamped down on his arm, taking him under. He disappeared for several seconds and Stromsnes, who had already told Pope he would be there in case something happened, was faced with a decision.

"(Pope) went under and the gator started to death roll," Stromsnes said. "We could see his tail flipping around. Three or four times."

So he jumped in. Stromsnes circled the gator and grabbed its tail while the animal still had Pope's arm in its mouth. Butler then joined in and went to grab the gator by its belly. When he touched its side, the gator released Pope and swam off.

"The gator was pretty darn close to taking his arm off," Stromsnes said.

But Pope was far from out of the woods. His arm was mangled. Bone and tissue were exposed. The three were nowhere near medical attention.

"His arm was just dangling and all torn up," Stromsnes said. "It looked like a movie. I used his belt as a tourniquet and just kept tapping on him to make sure he stayed awake."

The boys called 911 and after "about 15 minutes or so" the ambulance finally arrived. Stromsnes has not heard from the man since the July incident.

Stromsnes' coaches and teammates have been predictably poking fun since the beginning of fall practice — but they are aware things might not have turned out so well.

"We all call him Gator Boy and all that," assistant coach Travis Puleo said. "He's crazy, man. But he saved that guy's life. He's lucky Ryne is as brave as he is."

Comments
State softball: Land O’Lakes advances to second straight title game

State softball: Land O’Lakes advances to second straight title game

VERO BEACH — Land O'Lakes had just finished a hard-fought 5-0 victory over Clay in the Class 6A state semifinal. Callie Turner threw a no-hitter. Jolene Bodner had a two-run single.The win was big, clinching the Gators' second straight champion...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Archer facing Price

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Archer facing Price

The Rays are set to take on the Red Sox again tonight with a bit of a student-mentor framing as Chris Archer takes on former Tampa Bay ace David Price.The Rays announced they are putting RHP Jake Faria on the 10-day DL due to the oblique strain he su...
Updated: 2 hours ago
State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

FORT MYERS — One swing.That's all it took for Carrollwood Day's historic season to come to an end.With two outs and two runners on in the third inning of the Class 3A state semifinal against Tallahassee North Florida Christian, Patriots starter...
Updated: 3 hours ago
No. 2-seeded USF falls to Wichita State in AAC tourney opener

No. 2-seeded USF falls to Wichita State in AAC tourney opener

Second-seeded USF was greeted Wednesday morning at the American Athletic Conference tournament by a bright sky and bracket poised to burst.Yet on a day the Bulls (32-19-1) could've made real noise in this eight-team event, their bats elicited nary a ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

ATLANTA — NFL owners approved a new national anthem policy Wednesday that gives individual teams the authority to set their own anthem-related rules and permits players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, the Washington Pos...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays put Jake Faria on DL, call up Vidal Nuno

Rays put Jake Faria on DL, call up Vidal Nuno

The Rays, as expected, are placing RHP Jake Faria on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain that he sustained during Tuesday's game.Somewhat unexpectedly, they are calling up LHP Vidal Nuno to take his place.Nuno, 30, has pitched parts of five seas...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

After a decade at Tropicana Field, the Gasparilla Bowl is moving across the bay to Raymond James Stadium, bowl officials announced Wednesday morning.The move begins this year, with RJS set to host ESPN's game at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20. The stadium's other...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Twitter agrees: This plaque looks nothing like Brandi Chastain

Twitter agrees: This plaque looks nothing like Brandi Chastain

A bronze plaque meant to honor U.S. soccer great Brandi Chastain is said to look more like actor Gary Busey or Biff from Back to the Future than it does the World Cup winner and Olympic athlete.In a ceremony hosted Monday at the Westin St. Francis Ho...
Updated: 5 hours ago