LAND O'LAKES — Landon Vannata had not wrestled in two weeks because of an infection that caused bleeding from his forehead.
In great shape and armed with the skills one would expect a seasoned veteran to acquire, River Ridge's senior 171-pounder was having his best season. Talk about bad timing.
Vannata sat out two weeks and worked on conditioning, but it wasn't long enough for his wounds to heal. He wore what looked like an old-fashioned umpire mask. Then he put his 32-0 record on the line Saturday afternoon.
The result: Vannata registered two pins before earning a challenging 3-2 decision in the final against Dunedin junior Mike Hogan for the district title.
It was the first time Vannata had worn the mask, which brought along its own challenges.
"The bar down the middle makes your vision weird," Vannata said. "Your peripherals are cut off. You can't see up when you're down."
Overall, Wiregrass Ranch earned the best finish among North Suncoast schools, finishing second behind Dunedin. The Bulls were coming off a second-place finish at the Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament last week at Gulf.
"It's nice being runnerup," coach Rory Conrad said. "Hopefully next year we'll be even better."
Bulls sophomore Kyle Koesling set the tone in the finals, winning at 103 pounds with an 8-7 decision against Dunedin sophomore Ray Khemraj. Conrad said it was the Bulls' first district title winner.
At 119, Zephyrhills senior Nick Hynes won a 14-2 decision against Wiregrass Ranch sophomore David Hill. At 130, Sunlake senior Ryan McMillian won a 13-7 decision against River Ridge senior Andrew Agazarm. At 189, River Ridge senior Jake Horning pinned Wiregrass Ranch sophomore Cody Cottrill in 4:23. And at 215, Zephyrhills junior Frank Morrison pinned Mitchell senior Ryan Brosnan in 3:34.
Of course, the big news was Dunedin's first district title.
Out of 14 weight classes, Dunedin placed first or second in 10 matches. That includes Falcons senior Luis Agramonte, who extended his record to 50-0 after he registered a 24-second pin of Tarpon Springs junior Kameron Romaelle.
"We've never won one," said Allison, who won an individual state title at Countryside. "We felt good coming into it. The kids want to be part of it. It's school history."
Class 2A, District 8 at Sunlake
Team: 1. Dunedin (235), 2. Wiregrass Ranch (138), 3. Sunlake (117), 4. Zephyrhills (102), 5. River Ridge (94), 6. Mitchell (80), 7. Tarpon Springs (40).
Championship: 103: K. Koesling (WR) def. R. Khemraj (D), 8-7; 112: S. Shakoor (D) def. W. Wood (SL), 16-0; 119: N. Hynes (Z) def. D. Hill (WR), 14-2; 125: J. Goodloe (D) def. D. Koesling (WR), 1:50; 130: R. McMillan (SL) def. A. Agazarm (RR), 13-7; 135: K. Plate (D) def. E. Morales (WR), 9-5 OT; 140: A. Prince (D) def. L. Peterson (SL), 5:43; 145: J. Cannizzaro (D) def. S. Hart (SL), 17-2; 152: T. Smith (D) def. E. Long (WR), 5-4; 160: K. Goodnow (D) def. G. Andrasik (M), 6-2; 171: L. Vannata (RR) def. M. Hogan (D), 3-2; 189: J. Horning (RR) def. C. Cottrill (WR), 4:23; 215: F. Morrison (Z) def. Ryan Brosnan (M), 3:34; 285: L. Agramonte (D) def. K. Romaelle (TS), 0:24.
Consolation: 103: N. Vandam (Z) def. J. Ortiz (SL), 14-6; 112: J. Barker (RR) def. R. Starnes (Z), 9-7 OT; 119: D. Rodgers (D) def. S. Speer (RR), 9-1; 125: J. Himes (SL) def. J. Timberlake (M), 5-3; 130: M. Bradford (WR) def. L. King (D), 5-4; A.J. Bellavia (SL) def. A. Alissandratos (TS), 4:56; 140: J. Morrison (Z) def. M. Gebler (M), 3:59; 145: D. Wertheim (M) def. C. Campo (WR), 3:13; 152: L. Bruno (M) def. E. Burns (RR), 9-8; 160: Y. Karvounis (TS) def. D. Cooper (SL), 2:27; Z. Morales (WR) def. T. McDonald (Z), 4:50; 189: J. Piquette (D) def. L. Andre (M), 6-4 OT; 215: A. Bartleson (WR) def. J. Myers (SL), 12-6; 285: S. Cottrell (Z) def. D. Berardi (RR), Inj. def.