Thursday, January 18, 2018
Sports

Wrestling region roundup: Springstead wins team title, qualifies nine for state

ST. CLOUD — Springstead, the back-to-back defending Class 2A state champion, captured its third consecutive Region 2 wrestling team title Saturday.

The Eagles (196 points) topped runnerup Lake Gibson (187.5) for the team title and qualified nine for next weekend's state championships at the Lakeland Center.

Although Springstead fell short of last season's total of 12 wrestlers moving on to state, the Eagles crowned three region champions: Mike McDonald (113 pounds), Stephen Pavao (120) and Jordan Rivera (138).

For Rivera, it was his second consecutive region title. The two-time state placer pinned over Harmony's Jeremy Beesley in 3 minutes, 11 seconds.

McDonald and Pavao needed more effort to capture their crowns. McDonald scored a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud's Joe McGinley in his final, while Pavao edged Lake Gibson's Sa'Derian Perry 6-4.

Matt Landgraff (106), Andrew Smith (126), Joe Russo (152), Billy Swift (160), Conor Ross (170), and Corey Humphrey (220) rounded out the Eagles' state qualifiers.

One week after finishing second to Springstead at the district meet, Nature Coast (108.5 points) was third at region for the second straight season. The Sharks had three qualifiers for state, all earning individual crowns. Sean Nguyen (106 pounds), who lost the district final 9-7 to Springstead's Landgraff, scored an 8-2 win this time. Brandon Vovan (160) beat Sebring's Christopher DeJesus 7-3 for his first region title. And Dylan Savoury (182) pinned Citrus' Brandon Taylor in 4:31.

Among the other North Suncoast wrestlers to qualify for state was Hernando's Jesse Gaudin (220), who pinned Springstead's Humphrey in 1:30 and Zephyrhills' Joel Morrison (182). Land O'Lakes will send three: Dominic Telesco (106), Bobby Austin (170), and Gary Garcia (195). And Sunlake (Kendrich Portorreal at 132, Zach Kweller at 160), Central (Josh Marquez at 120, Jesus Nieves at 145) and River Ridge (Dakota Arends at 113, Hayden Krautner at 285) each qualified a pair for state.

3A-2: Brandon rolls

KISSIMMEE — As expected, Brandon won the 3A-2 region team title, scoring 294 points, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top 10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

"This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

Capping the meet was a heavyweight rematch between Brandon's Darren Lester and Plant City's Lance Dounges. Lester pulled an upset last week at district after being down 5-1. In the region final at 285 pounds, Lester got the third-period pin again.

"This time, when he threw me into a lateral, I knew how to counter it," Lester said.

The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

Brandon senior Kyle Norstrem scored major decisions against each of his region opponents, including a 17-2 final against junior Tucker Hardwick of Palm Harbor U.

A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the A-3 meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

Robinson's Kionte Crocker (138 pounds) and Luis Pegero (170) won their weight class finals.

Gulf's lone champion was Spencer Baxter (160) but the Buccaneers will send five to state.

"We could have eight go and I would have been upset it wasn't 10," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "There is room for improvement but we have a good chance of coming home with some winners at state so I'm happy."

Wesley Chapel was fifth and qualified four for state, led by region champs Tony Ruggio (120) and Jon Galvin (126).

Times correspondents Andy Warrener and David Rice contributed to this report.

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