BROOKSVILLE — Gulf won its fourth consecutive district team trophy after winning Saturday night's Class A, District 8 wrestling meet.
The Buccaneers (233 points) emerged from the 10-team fray thanks to eight individual titles, winning all but one of their championship final matches.
The standouts for the Buccaneers were state favorites Anthony Ayers (119 pounds), R.J. O'Connor (135), and Ladarious Jackson (152).
The closest match of the tournament for any Gulf finalist was Jackson (47-1) against Hernando's Zach Pritz (33-5). A state finalist last season, Jackson defeated Pritz 7-5 in bout littered with stalling calls.
"I get up in the morning early and work because I know I'm going to face someone like Zach," Jackson said. "He is the toughest kid I've faced all year long."
The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to regional meets later this week.
Nature Coast (196.5 points) was the district runnerup for the first time in program history. It is an accomplishment that was certainly a long time coming if you ask the only coach the team has ever known, Mike Lastra.
"This really shows that these kids buy into what we've been trying to sell them," Lastra said. "Four years ago, we were kind of the laughingstock of the district. It's really excited to be in this position now."
The Sharks finished with five wrestlers in the finals. However, only Scott Cronin (125), who made it the furthest of any Nature Coast wrestler last postseason as well, stood atop the podium with a gold medal.
"Scott is on a tear right now," Lastra said. "He is in it to win the whole thing. He could be our first state placer (in school history)."
Hernando's Daniel Pritz (145) won his third individual district title with an 18-2 technical fall over Wesley Chapel's Nick Popolillo. The Leopards edged Dunnellon for third with 116.5 points.
Class A, District 8
Team Standings: 1. Gulf 233, 2. Nature Coast 196.5, 3. Hernando 116.5, 4. Dunnellon 116, 5. Pasco 75.5, 6. Crystal River 70, 7. Wesley Chapel 52, 8. The Villages 51, 9. Ocala-Trinity Catholic 37.5, 10. Anclote 36.5.
CHAMPIONSHIP: 103: Swartsel (GUL) pin Nguyen (NCT), 0:36; 112: Carpenter (GUL) dec. Gamez (PAS), 9-7; 119: Ayers (GUL) pin Patterson (DUN), 1:44; 125: Cronin (NCT) pin Hernandez (PAS), 2:47; 130: Hoppel (OTC) pin Richardson (DUN), 1:46; 135: O'Connor (GUL) pin Bolesta (NCT), 4:07; 140: Jackson (DUN) dec. Lambert (NCT), 6-2; 145: D. Pritz (HER) tech. fall Popolillo (WC), 18-2; 152: Jackson (GUL) dec. Z. Pritz (HER), 7-5; 160: Mesagno (GUL) maj. dec. Delgado (DUN), 11-1; 171: O'Connell (DUN) pin Ritter (GUL), 5:38; 189: Brass (CR) dec. Gilbert (NCT), 7-5; 215: Palasky (GUL) pin Jordan (PAS), 2:41; 285: Kruse (GUL) pin Linton (ANC), 0:39
Consolation Finals: 103: Sorrick (ANC) pin Ruggiero (WC), 2:14; 112: Varqulish (CR) dec. Forand (NCT), 11-4; 119: Anthony (NCT) dec. DeAugustino (PAS), 10-5; 125: Young (HER) pin Surber (CR), 5:18; 130: Isom (GUL) dec. Richardson (NCT), 7-0; 135: Ayers (HER) maj. dec. Jimenez (OTC), 18-7; 140: Thompson (CR) pin Baxter (GUL), 3:13; 145: Gough (VIL) maj. dec. McCarty (NCT), 14-3; 152: Nuby (NCT) pin Williams (WC), 1:53; 160: Carasquillo (NCT) dec. Carpenter (CR), 7-1; 171: Wulff (VIL) pin Holoman (NCT), 2:10; 189: Raney (HER) pin Karr (GUL), 2:25; 215: Bowers (VIL) dec. Pascullo (HER), 3-2; 285: Jarque (NCT) pin Neff (HER), 0:38