Wrestler of the Year | Richie Bliss, Sr., Springstead (46-1)
There aren't many wrestlers in this area who have been more dominant over their careers than Bliss. With 139 wins and 106 pins in his three years competing at the varsity level, he made an indelible mark at Springstead, breaking the school's all-time pins record among others. Most impressive accomplishment: By defeating Harmony's Ariel Dominguez via technical fall in the 103-pound championship match, Bliss became the second North Suncoast wrestler to win three state titles, following Hernando's Addison Chipoletti (2003-05). The lightweight was more focused than ever this season, training in the offseason and preparing for a potential collegiate career. Did you know? Bliss holds the record for the fastest pin in state history. Against Pasco's Kevin Tipton in the first round of the 2009 Brandon Ippolito Invitational, he racked up a pin in only four seconds. According to the WUSA website, the national record at 103 pounds is held by Travis Sullivan of Monticello (Ky.) Wayne County, who pinned an opponent in 3.2 seconds on Feb. 2, 2006.
103: Anthony Agazarm, Fr., Gulf, 51-12: Qualified for state in his first varsity year; though he lost in the Sunshine Athletic Conference final to Fivay's Chris Sorrick, he outlasted his rival when it mattered: with a trip to Lakeland on the line.
112: Jordan Rivera, Fr., Springstead, 44-9: The most successful freshman in the state this season in Class 2A, and the best in school history with his third-place showing. Also broke the program record for first-year wins set by Cody Ross (43).
119: Robbie Monsegur, Sr., Central, 28-5: One season after Central failed to qualify anyone for state, Monsegur notched a Class 2A first-round win in Lakeland as the lone North Suncoast wrestler in his weight class.
125: Sean Redman, Jr., Springstead, 31-8: “Buddha," as his teammates call him, could be inconsistent, but pulled it all together for his first state qualifying run.
130: Virgil Toms, Sr., Springstead, 46-3: One season after breaking through for his first state crown, Toms defended his title. Confidence was key all season as he pushed Class 3A champ Brandon's Rossi Bruno to overtime and beat the Class A champ, Gulf's Anthony Ayers, twice.
135: Nick Soto, Sr., Springstead, 50-2: The Times' Wrestler of the Year last season won his second straight state crown. The multiple All-American is on his way to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in the fall.
140: Cody Ross, Jr., Springstead, 49-1: Before he graduates, Ross could break most of the school records. He can tie Bliss with three state titles next year, and with 142 wins, he needs only 20 to reach Matt Booker's school record (162).
145: Sammy Colon, Sr., Springstead, 34-12: A broken hand kept Colon from reaching state; for the second season in a row the region qualifier was one match away.
152: Shawn Landgraff, Sr., Springstead, 49-3: Every year Landgraff improved, coming home with state gold in his final season.
160: R.J. O'Connor, Sr., Gulf, 60-4: Many questioned his ability to jump from 135 pounds to 160 as a senior, but O'Connor placed third at state in Class A.
171: Ladarious Jackson, Sr., Gulf, 50-0: With a vow to go undefeated at the beginning of the season, an emotional Jackson came through and won a second state title, cementing his spot as the most successful wrestler in school history.
189: Andrew Herr, Sr., River Ridge, 40-7: Injuries hindered Herr toward the end of the season, but he made a solid run toward Lakeland, finishing fifth in Class 2A at state.
215: Mike Hahn, Jr., Fivay, 38-5: Hahn won the SAC and district titles, then placed fourth at regionals. He seemed at home in Lakeland, coming in fourth to become the Falcons' first state placer.
285: John Dreggors, Jr., Springstead, 45-2: Ranked No. 1 in the state among heavyweights all season, only a tough loss to North Marion's Matt Pringle kept him from gold.
103: Chris Sorrick, Sr., Anclote, 41-9
112: J.P. Gamez, Jr., Pasco, 59-10
119: Sean Speer, So., Fivay, 46-5
125: Jesse Barker, So., Fivay, 27-14
130: Anthony Ayers, Sr., Gulf, 62-2
135: Carter Bolesta, Jr., Nature Coast, 47-17
140: Jared Young, Jr., Hernando, 42-11
145: Derek Wertheim, Sr., Mitchell, 46-5
152: Nick Popolillo, Jr., Wesley Chapel, 37-7
160: Thomas Gupton, Jr., Springstead, 43-14
171: Zach Pritz, Jr., Hernando, 48-6
189: Friday Karr, Sr., Gulf, 45-11
215: Zack Jordan, So., Pasco, 24-8
285: Jeff Kruse, Jr., Gulf, 55-6
Central: Puerto Rico Nieves (160); Gulf: Forrest Swartsel (119), Austin Hayes (152); Nature Coast: Tyler Forand (112), Carlos Carrasquillo (171); Springstead: Steven Pavao (119); Sunlake: John Ortiz (112); Wiregrass Ranch: David Hill (125), Dylan Koesling (130), Elliot Morales (140)
Coach of the Year
Eric Swensen, Springstead: One season after crowning the most individual state champions in program history with five, Swensen lost one of those winners and still equaled that total to win Springstead's first state title. Joined by assistant Sal Basile, the lineups they put on the mat rewrite the record books every season.