SPRING HILL — Springstead cemented its place at the top of the North Suncoast wrestling mountain long ago, and nothing that happened during this weekend's 20th annual Springstead Invitational did anything to change that.
The Eagles topped a field of 21 teams, scoring 255.5 points. That was more than 100 points in front of its nearest competitor (Jesuit with 151).
Springstead had strolled through the Kiwanis Invitational at Hernando less than a month ago but struggled in the championship final at that event, capturing only two individual crowns. Not so on this Saturday.
"It was much better to see our guys step up when the matches got tougher," Springstead coach Eric Swensen said. "It's important for us to continue to train hard while also training smart."
Nine Eagles reached the tournament finals, and seven of them won gold medals. Freshman Cody Ross (119) took home the most outstanding lightweight wrestler honors after defeating Gulf's Anthony Ayers 7-3.
Another eye-opening performance came from Jarrett Baker, who placed last year at state. The Sunlake heavyweight won the title at 189 pounds after defeating Springstead's Scott Wern, a fellow state qualifier. It was the second time this season that Baker defeated Wern, and he maintained his status as the North Suncoast's only undefeated wrestler (24-0).
"(Wern) underestimated me at Kiwanis," Baker said. "He thought (my first win) was lucky, but this time he wrestled me hard, and I was still able to come out on top."