Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sports

North Suncoast: District wrestling preview

Class 2A, District 5

Where: Springstead High, Spring Hill

When: Feb. 1 — First round, 9 a.m.; finals, 2 p.m.

Teams: Belleview, Citrus, Ocala-Lake Weir, Lecanto, Springstead, Ocala-Vanguard

Breakdown: Only Brandon and its three decades of district dominance compares locally to what Springstead has accomplished the past eight years. If the host Eagles are going to win their ninth consecutive district crown, the meat of their lineup is going to have to perform to expectations. Defending district champ Andrew Smith (132 pounds) and state-ranked Corey Humphrey (195) have been up and down this season. Both should win titles this week, while Matt Landgraff (106) and Mike McDonald (120) go for their third straight individual titles. Jordan Rivera (145) could join elite company with four district titles in four years. Belleview's Ben Boles, a district runnerup last season, will be tough competition for Smith, while the projected 170-pound final of Springstead's Billy Swift and Citrus' Casey Bearden should provide fireworks as well.

Class 2A, District 8

Where: Chamberlain High, Tampa

When: Feb. 1 — First round, 10 a.m.; finals, 4 p.m.

Teams: Blake, Chamberlain, Freedom, Gaither, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Jesuit, Land O'Lakes, Leto, Robinson, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills

Breakdown: Wiregrass Ranch will have its hands full with two of the top programs in the state competing in the same district. Jesuit, coming off back-to-back district titles, has another influx of young talent. Standing in the Tigers' way, thanks to this year's district realignment, is another 2013 district champ, Robinson. The Bulls' best shot at a title sits with Jarred Lanier (113). The Knights have state champion Luis Peguero (170) and state qualifiers Jose Munoz (106), Kendonte Nichols (220) and Kionte Crocker (138). Jesuit will rely on state runnerup Adam Lewis (138).

Class 2A, District 9

Where: Northeast High, Tampa

When: Friday — First round, 10 a.m.; finals, 4 p.m.

Teams: Boca Ciega, Clearwater, Dixie Hollins, Fivay, Largo, Mitchell, Northeast, Osceola, River Ridge, Tarpon Springs

Breakdown: River Ridge and Fivay have each won district titles over the previous three seasons, and the Falcons own two region titles in that span as well. However, Dixie Hollins could be the team to beat in this district this year. Coming off two straight district team titles themselves, the Rebels have four returning individual district champions, including state qualifier Andre Mathews (285). The Royal Knights boast former district winners Max Reynolds (182) and Brandon Simms (220), while the Falcons will pin their hopes to the trio of Cole Manion (120), Andrew Scherer (160) and Nicco Lightfoot (182). Lightfoot versus Reynolds sets up as an intriguing final, though Lightfoot injured a foot at the SAC event. Mitchell boasts Storm Schenk (145), though he is day-to-day with a collarbone injury suffered at the SAC meet. Dustin Watt (113), Connor Murchie (220) and Trevor Maples (145) also have a shot at advancing for Mitchell.

Class A, District 6

Where: Hernando High, Brooksville

When: Feb. 1 — First round, 10 a.m.; finals, 3:30 p.m.

Teams: Anclote, Central, Gulf, Hernando, Hudson, Nature Coast, Pasco, Ridgewood, Weeki Wachee, Wesley Chapel

Breakdown: While both Pasco and Gulf won district titles last season, the Buccaneers lost much of the depth that carried them. Kenny Hayes (220) won a district title two years ago at 285, while Jarred Kruse (182), who placed fourth in the state as a junior, is the team's best bet to return to the medal stand in Lakeland. The Pirates have bolstered their lineup with the emergence of Lukas Twardowsky (106). Veterans Skyler White (138) and T.J. Maple (152) have provided key leadership. Dark horses include Wesley Chapel and Nature Coast. The Wildcats have two expected state placers in Jon Galvan (126) and Nathan Love (182). The Sharks don't have the kind of standouts they had last season when they boasted two state champs, but with a handful of up-and-comers that includes Marc Espinosa (126) and Anthony Contegiacomo (220), they have a shot. Weeki Wachee should advance plenty of wrestlers as well, with Dante Padilla (120), Jesus Nieves (132) and Anthony Vines (285) showing promise.

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