BROOKSVILLE — Springstead won its third consecutive team title at the Kiwanis Invitational wrestling meet at Hernando, but Saturday's trophy didn't come without struggle.
The Eagles topped the 28-team field thanks to eight wrestling reaching the championship finals. Springstead scored 252.5 points to outdistance Lake Gibson (227.5). They were the only teams to surpass 200 points at the event.
Despite qualifying eight of the team's 13-wrestler lineup for the finals, Springstead was a little disappointed to only win three individual crowns. Richie Bliss (103 pounds) and Cody Ross (119), both first-year varsity competitors, joined Kenny Cox (215) with gold medals.
"I am very happy that we still won the tournament," Springstead coach Eric Swensen said, "but the whole team should still be very hungry after the way we finished (this weekend)."
The match of the tournament might have come from Ross. Squaring off with Gulf's Anthony Ayers, a transfer from Mitchell, Ross took the match to a sudden-death period knotted 1-1. The Springstead freshman's escape clinched a 2-1 victory and his first varsity title.
Sunlake's Jarrett Baker was the only other North Suncoast individual champion. He pinned Springstead's Scott Wern in 5 minutes, 10 seconds in a 189-pound final between two state qualifiers from a season ago.
"I wrestled hard, and that's all you can really ask for," Baker said. "I am doing okay right now, but I still have a bunch of work to do before the end of the season."
In the end, the championship finals were full of upsets, with Hernando state qualifier Daniel Pritz losing 4-2 to Robinson's Zack Boyer at 135 pounds, and Springstead's Thad Klenovich (160) and Jessey Lorentsen (171) both dropping their finals to Lake Gibson opponents.
Lake Gibson senior Brent Jorge (140) won the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler award, winning his 100th career match when he pinned Mitchell's Billy Kostakis in the finals.