Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

District wrestling preview

Anthony Ayers, top, says that the attention paid to conditioning and the technical aspect of wrestling is huge at Gulf.

JOSEPH GARNETT JR. | Times (2007)

Anthony Ayers, top, says that the attention paid to conditioning and the technical aspect of wrestling is huge at Gulf.

NEW PORT RICHEY— Last season at Mitchell, there was a freshman lightweight who showed glimpses of talent. How he would fare in his high school career was up for debate because a lot of skilled freshman grapplers flare out early.

It's becoming obvious that 119-pound Anthony Ayers won't be one of those stories. During the summer, his family moved into Gulf's school district.

Though Ayers was leaving behind many friends and an environment he was just getting used to, he was walking into a wrestling room under the tutelage of Gulf coach Travis DeWalt and his staff.

The move hardly could have been better for his prep career.

"They definitely put more emphasis on conditioning and the technical side of the sport here," Ayers said. "Wrestling bigger matches during the year has helped me to have more confidence."

Gulf has separated itself as one of the elite Pasco County programs, and the addition of Ayers to an already strong lightweight stable couldn't have come at a better time. Jarod Carpenter (103 pounds), R.J. O'Conner (112) and Ladarious Jackson (152), postseason veterans, have worked with their new teammate during the season.

"Anthony had instant respect once he walked into the room because people knew who he was," DeWalt said. "He might not like wrestling bigger kids like Ladarious, but I tell him, 'If you can beat him, you shouldn't have any trouble with the best 119-pounders.' "

That work during the season and ability to boost his confidence on the mat might translate to a state berth and possible spot on the podium in Lakeland.

But first there are districts and Ayers should square off in the finals with Zephyrhills' Nick Hynes, a state placer at 112 pounds last year.

"We aren't going to use his age or grade level as a crutch," DeWalt said. "I'd like to get him to Lakeland and up on that podium."

district breakdown

Class 3A, District 6

When/where: Saturday; first round, 10 a.m.; finals, 5 p.m. East Lake High

Who: Mitchell, Countryside, East Lake, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor University, Riverview, St. Petersburg, Sarasota

Outlook: Mitchell is having a down season after its top two grapplers from 2008, Jessey Lorentsen (Springstead) and Anthony Ayers (Gulf), transferred. Billy Kostakis (140 pounds), Shea Taylor (152) and Ryan Cassidy (215) look like the Mustangs' best chances to advance to regionals, possibly state. Past that, the lone North Suncoast program in 3A-6 will have difficulty making waves with grappling mainstays like Countryside, East Lake, Sarasota and Pinellas Park among the opponents. East Lake snagged the title last season, stopping Countryside's run of six consecutive district championships.

Match of the tournament: Billy Kostakis (Mitchell) vs. Layton Ayers (Countryside), 140 pounds

Class 2A, District 5

When/where: Saturday, first round, 11 a.m.; finals, 5 p.m. Dunedin High

Who: Springstead, Central, Dunedin, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Wesley Chapel, South Lake, Tarpon Springs, Land O'Lakes

Outlook: Springstead is aiming for its fifth consecutive district crown. Six of the Eagles' individual grapplers are favorites to win titles in their weight classes, including Richie Bliss (103), Cody Ross (119), Nick Soto (125), Colton Zimmerman (135), Shawn Landgraff (145) and Thad Klenovich (160). There are four other Eagles who have a good chance of taking their classes also. Host Dunedin will be Springstead's top competition thanks to former state placer Antonio Talley (171). Central should also be strong, returning two state qualifiers from last season, Kenny Supple (130) and Danny May (215), and team leader Vince Ramirez (140).

Match of the tournament: Antonio Talley ( Dunedin ) vs. Jessey Lorentsen (Springstead), 171 pounds

Class A, District 5

When/where: Saturday, first round, 10 a.m.; finals, 5 p.m. Citrus High

Who: Hernando, Nature Coast , Citrus, Crystal River , Dunnellon, The Villages, Lecanto, North Marion Trinity Catholic, West Port

Outlook: Citrus has won the past three district titles, and the Hurricanes look poised to capture their fourth. Hernando will put up a fight to dethrone the host with former state placer Daniel Pritz (135) and former state qualifiers Max Morrill (152) and James Davidson (171) leading the charge.

Match of the tournament: Daniel Pritz (Hernando) vs. David Gonzalez (North Marion), 135 pounds

Class A, District 6

When/where: Saturday, first round, 10 a.m.; finals, 5 p.m. Sunlake High

Who: Pasco , Gulf, Hudson , Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills, Sunlake, Lake Highland Prep, Agape Christian, Jones, Bishop Moore

Outlook: This district might be the one that has lost the most depth in the area because of graduation. In the end, it might not matter with Gulf looking for its third straight title here led by Anthony Ayers (119) and Ladarious Jackson (152). Sunlake has burst onto the scene as the Buccaneers' strongest rival. If the Seahawks are going to steal this season's title, they'll need huge performances from former state placer Jarrett Baker (189) and Devon Johnson (171). There are other programs with strong leaders looking to upset the field, including Zephyrhills (Nick Hynes, 119) and Pasco (Trevor Drake, 140).

Match of the tournament: Anthony Ayers (Gulf) vs. Nick Hynes (Zephyrhills), 119 pounds

District wrestling preview 02/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 2, 2009 10:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.