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)

North Suncoast wrestling preview

Springstead’s Jordan Rivera, twice a bronze medalist at state, is focused on making and winning the final.

CHRIS PRICE | Special to the Times

Springstead’s Jordan Rivera, twice a bronze medalist at state, is focused on making and winning the final.

Preseason top five

1. Springstead

The two-time defending Class 2A state champions are coming off of a turmoil-filled offseason. Coach Eric Swensen, who led the team for eight seasons, resigned to spend more time with his family and moved back to Minnesota. The team was left to longtime assistant and Springstead alum Sal Basile. The change should be seamless with most of the wrestlers familiar with Basile's coaching style and mannerisms. While all three individual state champions (Cody Ross, Sean Redman and John Dreggors) from last year have graduated and freshman state finalist Josh Herrera moved away, there is still plenty of talent. Six of the 14 competitors on the team have experience wrestling at state, including three who placed on the podium.

2. Fivay

Heading into only its third season, the Falcons have already won district and region titles. Coach Andy Medders returns much of the lineup from last season. Much like Springstead, Fivay has had to deal with graduation (two-time state finalist Mike Hahn) and an unexpected move (state placer Sean Speer). However, five state qualifiers return, including placer Troy Reed.

3. Gulf

With Swensen's departure and Bill Combs' retirement at Hernando, Travis DeWalt is now the dean of coaches on the North Suncoast. His 12-year tenure as the head man continues to impress as the program reloads season after season. This season the team will feature four state qualifiers (Kenny Hayes and Anthony Agazarm) and two state placers (Forrest Swartsel and Spencer Baxter), who both have a legitimate chance to win a title. The deep lineup is continually being developed, so there's no telling which wrestler could become a force by season's end.

4. Nature Coast

No team made more of an impact as last season wound down than the Sharks, but so many of the wrestlers in that lineup were seniors. Coach Mike Lastra lost Cameron Tull, Mitch Lambert and Carlos Carrasquillo to graduation. All were somewhat unexpected state placers after meteoric postseason rises. If the coaching staff can work with their inexperienced lineup in a similar fashion this year, the Sharks could make waves again.

5. Pasco

Coach Mark DeAugustino will have his most experienced and talented team in years with three state qualifiers returning and two other talented seniors also in the lineup that should also make a run at state. Niko DeAugustino, Skyler White and Zack Jordan should provide the experience and leadership after making it to state last year. Kevin Tipton, competing at 113 pounds, and John Brown, wrestling at 170, could be the next two to join them.

Notable tournaments

• Dec. 7-8, Kiwanis Invitational at Hernando

• Dec. 15, Springstead Duals

• Dec. 21-22, Gulf Holiday Duals

• Jan. 4-5, Springstead Invitational

• Jan. 11-12, Combs Duals at Nature Coast

• Jan. 19, Anclote Challenge Duals

• Jan. 26, Suncoast Athletic Conference Championships at Hudson

• Feb. 1, District tournaments

• Feb. 8-9, Region tournaments (A-2 at Tenoroc in Lakeland, A-3 at Berkeley Prep, 2A-2 at St. Cloud, 3A-2 at Osceola in Kissimmee)

• Feb. 15-16, state finals at the Lakeland Center

Wrestlers to watch

Dakota Arends, Sr., River Ridge, 106 pounds: The lightweight flew somewhat under the radar last season even though he went 38-5. He fell to Gulf's Anthony Agazarm at the Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament and ran into Nature Coast's Sean Nguyen at region and state, but he did capture a district title.

Spencer Baxter, Sr., Gulf, 170: Baxter has had an up-and-down high school career, but he capped his 50-4 junior year with a bronze medal at the state meet in Lakeland. With one last shot, he wants gold in a weight class that seems ripe for the picking.

Matt Landgraff, So., Springstead, 106: During his 33-12 freshman campaign, Landgraff, the younger brother of former state champion Shawn Landgraff, never could solve his rival from Nature Coast, Sean Nguyen. Even at state, where he placed fourth, he lost to Nguyen in the round before his consolation final.

Sean Nguyen, Sr., Nature Coast, 106: When last season began, Nguyen was coming off a summer full of training and competing in USA tournaments. The hard work paid off as the strong, lanky wrestler went 52-8 and ended up at the state meet in Lakeland. He was part of a North Suncoast-dominated podium, taking third.

Jordan Rivera, Jr., Springstead, 132: In Rivera's first two seasons, he earned two third-place medals at the state finals in Lakeland. He was disappointed in last year's 36-6 finish, which tells you just how much drive he has. If the Eagles are going to be state contenders again as a team, he will have to be a major leader.

Conor Ross, So., Springstead, 182: Coming off of a stellar football campaign, Ross will shift his focus to wrestling, where he's just as good, if not better. As a freshman, he went 35-9 and made the state finals, the first Eagles wrestler to make it that far since his brother Cody. Now he wants what Cody achieved three times: an individual state title.

North Suncoast wrestling preview 11/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …