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North Suncoast: All-county wrestling


Richie Bliss, So., Springstead

Why we picked him: Bliss, a 103-pounder, flew under the radar in an impressive Eagles lineup until he won his state final match and finished the season 49-4. Bliss' final opponent, Brandon Jorge of Lake Gibson, beat him in the regional tournament.

Most impressive accomplishment: In his first season in the varsity lineup, Bliss went a step further than his four-time state qualifier brother by capturing what Steven Bliss couldn't — a state crown.

Did you know? As a sophomore, Bliss is the youngest of the 12 Springstead wrestlers to come home with state gold. This win gives him two more opportunities to become the third multiple champ in school history.

First team

103: Tyler Forand, So., Nature Coast, 34-15. One season after the Sharks had their first state qualifier, Forand became one of two Sharks to win a match in Lakeland.

112: R.J. O'Connor, So., Gulf, 45-8. One of three Gulf placers at state, finishing sixth.

119: Cody Ross, Fr., Springstead, 47-10. Annihilated the school record for wins as a freshman, surpassing Tommy Walker's mark of 35 on his way to the state final.

125: Nick Soto, So., Springstead, 44-8. Already an All-American at the Fargo Nationals last season, placed fourth in Class 2A in his first varsity season.

130: Eric Madden, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch, 29-7. Bulls' first state qualifier; at state, came up only one win short of placing.

135: Daniel Pritz, Jr., Hernando, 42-4. For the second straight year, placed at state (fifth in Class A).

140: Vasili Kostakis, Sr., Mitchell, 33-10. The Mustangs never had a state placer before Kostakis shocked the field at the Lakeland Center on his way to finishing fifth in Class 3A.

145: Shawn Landgraff, So., Springstead, 45-14. Tied the sophomore record for school wins, grabbing one of those at state.

152: Ladarious Jackson, So., Gulf, 50-5. Exceeded expectations with runnerup finish at state.

160: Thad Klenovich, Sr., Springstead, 44-9. Placed fourth at state; leadership was key in the Eagles' team finish in 2009.

171: Jessey Lorentsen, Sr., Springstead, 48-11. Mitchell transfer rose from state qualifier last season to state placer (sixth).

189: Scott Wern, Sr., Springstead, 44-7. Had never been on a mat before his freshman year with the Eagles. Now he's a state runnerup.

215: Kenny Cox, Jr., Springstead, 44-12. Pulled off a massive upset in the first round of state, handing Levy's Louis Gonzalez his first loss of the season.

285: Donovan Berardi, Jr., River Ridge, 17-13. Won the SAC title at this weight.

Second team

103: Brandon Gunderson, Hernando, Sr., 26-12

112: J.P. Gamez, Pasco, Fr., 36-6

119: Anthony Ayers, Gulf, So., 52-6

125: Scott Cronin, Nature Coast, Jr., 34-14

130: Devean Huff, Springstead, So., 18-10

135: Colton Zimmerman, Springstead, So., 39-15

140: Zach Pritz, Hernando, Fr., 35-10

145: Max Morrill, Hernando, Sr., 28-13

152: Landon Vannata, River Ridge, Jr., 39-10

160: James Johnson, Sunlake, Sr., 47-10

171: James Davidson, Hernando, Sr., 44-6

189: Jarrett Baker, Sunlake, Sr., 41-2

215: Chris Whittington, Sunlake, Sr., 40-13

285: Leigh Andre, Mitchell, Jr., 20-8

Honorable mention

Central: Shaun Cadoret, Danny May; Gulf: Jarod Carpenter, Josh Isom, Jacob Ritter, Matt Gallagher, Brian Coss; Land O'Lakes: Justin McKay, Kevin Engle; Mitchell: Shea Taylor, Garrett Andrasik; Nature Coast: David Simonson; Pasco: Trevor Drake, Marcus Hicks; River Ridge: Sean Hitchcock, Jake Horning; Springstead: Sean Redman , Sam Colon, Charles Oquendo; Sunlake: Luke Peterson; Wesley Chapel: Nick Popolillo; Wiregrass Ranch: Zachary Morales; Zephyrhills: Nick Hynes, Brandon Smith

Coach of the Year

Eric Swensen, Springstead

This season was the ultimate example of the culture Swensen has built at Springstead. After losing one state champion, two state placers and two other state qualifiers from 2008, the Eagles matched their best state result in school history with a third-place finish in Class 2A.

Derek J. LaRiviere, Times correspondent

North Suncoast: All-county wrestling 03/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2009 7:47pm]
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