SEMINOLE — Last year Dixie Hollins sent 13 wrestlers to regionals, but only one qualified for states. Thanks to a dominant effort Wednesday at the Class 2A-9 tournament, the Rebels will get a second chance to avenge 2008's disappointment.
Dixie Hollins took the district team title 208-161.5 over Osceola and will send 12 to Punta Gorda next week, including five district champions.
"Twelve is great," coach Nick Spataro said. "I think our kids and our coaching staff have been working hard. We have a tough region and … all we can do is go in and work hard."
The Rebels were led by district champions Jordan McKenzie (103), Mike Lloyd (119), Taylor Cooper (135), Ryan Washington (145) and Berto Frutos (189).
Osceola placed runnerup, but coach Dan Smalley was pleased. He is sending 10 to regionals, including Matt Dixon (125), Brent Sergakis (130), Donald Lipscomb (160) and Jared Willett (215) as champions. Seven of his 10 are going back.
"We kind of expected it," Smalley said. "We knew there were going to be some tough matches at certain weights, but we're happy to send 10."
During a quick survey around the gymnasium, no one was able to recall the last time a Lakewood wrestler headed to regionals as a district champion. Everyone will remember the latest Spartan to do it. At 112 pounds, No. 4-seeded David Vasquez knocked off No. 1 seed Matt Johnson of Dixie Hollins and No. 2 seed Kyle Ulrich of Osceola. Vasquez, a sophomore, improved to 13-7 this season.
"I'm a little surprised," said Vasquez, who was hugged and held in the air like a trophy. "I knew I had to fight hard to get that title. I've been working for it all season long. I'm going to work as hard as I can so I can do it again at regions."
Seminole and Northeast will send nine to regionals; Lakewood six, Clearwater five, Gibbs three and Boca Ciega two. Other district champions included Ryan Moore (140) and Austin Yelko (171) of Northeast, and Adam Kerrin (152) and Tyler Paar (285) of Clearwater.