Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Wrestling: Host Eagles win their seventh Springstead Invitational in a row

SPRING HILL — It was lucky No. 7 for Springstead on Saturday as the host Eagles captured their seventh consecutive team victory at the 24th annual Springstead Invitational.

This team victory was an easy one on the scoreboard as the Eagles scored 229.5 points, well ahead of runnerup Fivay (117.5).

"I thought it was a mixed bag for us," Eagles coach Sal Basile said. "I wasn't so happy with the way we wrestled performancewise, but the results worked in our favor. I preach a very offensive, aggressive style, and we wrestled too conservative this weekend."

Sending seven wrestlers to the finals, Springstead captured six individual crowns, led by Stephen Pavao's win at 120 pounds.

Pavao (23-4) handed Wesley Chapel's Tony Ruggiero, who placed sixth at state last season, his first loss of the season in 18 matches with a 7-6 decision.

"I think I'm in a class to win a state title this year, and if I believe in myself, I know that I can do that," said Pavao, who was named the event's most outstanding lightweight wrestler. "I knew that coming into the match I could win no matter who my opponent was."

Springstead's Jordan Rivera (138 pounds) won his second title in three years. After placing second last year at this event, Rivera (31-3) defeated Dunedin's Alex Lebhar (30-6) 4-3 in the finals.

Matt Landgraff (106) and Conor Ross (170) were runnersup as freshmen last season, but they captured championships this time around. Landgraff moved to 30-3 by handing Fivay's Cole Manion (20-1) his first loss with a 6-3 decision in the finals. Ross (37-1) beat Fivay's Nicco Lightfoot (25-4) by a 6-1 decision.

Joe Russo (152) and Mike McDonald (113) took the other two titles for the Eagles, both defeating Hillsborough High wrestlers. Russo moved to 23-4 with a 7-1 decision over Kyle Knauer (24-6). McDonald (29-2) continued his tear with a 12-4 major decision over Jacob West (22-7).

Dunedin's Clarence Arrington (126) and Marc Allison (132) went home with individual crowns. Arrington (23-0) scored a 9-1 major decision over George Jenkins' Ryan Strickland (20-7) to win his class, while Allison (31-4) had a much tougher bout against Gainesville's Matt Tamayo (29-4) in a 6-5 decision.

Nature Coast's Dylan Savoury (15-6) fell to two-time state champion Taylor Jackson (38-2), who won a technical fall at 182 pounds, 21-4. Gulf's Spencer Baxter (20-2), who placed third in Class A last season, lost 9-6 to Taylor's brother, Colton Jackson (33-2), at 160 pounds.

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