SPRING HILL — Springstead might have won its home tournament Saturday for the sixth time in a row, but the Eagles didn't have their usual parade of individual champions.
One season after getting eight wrestlers to the finals and crowning seven of them with gold, Springstead (248 points) only won five individual titles.
"We're not the team we were last year," Springstead assistant Sal Basile said, "but this is the most talented group of freshmen that I've ever coached."
Cody Ross (152 pounds) was clearly the best on the mat for the host team. His 23-9 major decision over Hernando's Jared Young gave him four titles here in four seasons.
The other champions were Josh Herrera (132), Sean Redman (145), Thomas Gupton (195) and John Dreggors (285). Besides Ross, only Dreggors had ever earned gold in the tournament before. This was the former national champion's third straight Springstead Invitational win as he pushed his record to 8-0 this season.
And there was another breakthrough performance from Nature Coast (161 points), with its runnerup finish. Saturday was the second time this season the Sharks were second behind the Eagles at a major tournament; the first time came at Hernando's Kiwanis Invitational last month.
"Our goal coming into this weekend was to finish second," Nature Coast coach Mike Lastra said. "The most important thing for us is to believe in ourselves and believe in what we preach."
What was even more impressive was that the Sharks walked away with two individual gold medals, one from Sean Nguyen (106) and the other from Mitch Lambert (160). Both won bouts against tough opponents. Nguyen dominated Springstead freshman Matt Landgraff in a 4-0 decision, and Lambert, the third seed coming in, knocked off Wesley Chapel state qualifier Nick Popolillo 5-3.
"Lambert wrestled great throughout this tournament," Lastra said. "He capitalized on other guys' mistakes, and that is what makes him dangerous."
After Nature Coast were Dunedin (151.5 points), Fivay (148) and Jesuit (133) in what many considered the deepest field the event has seen in years.
Three wrestlers who came in undefeated maintained those marks with Fivay's Nicco Lightfoot (20-0) and Mike Hahn (20-0), and Dunedin's Kyle Goodnow (26-0) all winning championships. Goodnow (170 pounds) was involved in the day's best match, a 4-3 decision over Springstead freshman Conor Ross.
Individual finals: 106 - Nguyen (NCT) dec Landgraff (SPR), 4-0. 113 - Malik (WAK) pin Roop (JES), 1:21. 120 - Swartsel (GUL) dec Arrington (DUN), 6-4. 126 - Patisaul (SCR) pin Rivera (SPR), 3:22. 132 - Herrera (SPR) dec Franklin (SPO), 6-5. 138 - Finneran (STC) dec Hinsey (WAK), 4-2. 145 - Redman (SPR) maj dec Bolesta (NCT), 11-1. 152 - Cod. Ross (SPR) maj dec Young (HER), 23-9. 160 - Lambert (NCT) dec Popolillo (WC), 5-3. 170 - Goodnow (DUN) dec Con. Ross (SPR), 4-3. 182 - Lightfoot (FIV) dec Taylor (WAK), 5-3. 195 - Gupton (SPR) dec Hill (HIL), 3-1 (OT). 220 - Hahn (FIV) dec Luth (DUN), 7-5. 285 - Dreggors (SPR) pin Jarque (NCT), 1:23.
Team standings: 1. Springstead 248, 2. Nature Coast 161, 3. Dunedin 151.5, 4. Fivay 148, 5. Jesuit 133, 6. Wakulla 127, 7. Gulf 79.5, 8. Hernando 72, 9. Strawberry Crest 68, 10. Wiregrass Ranch 57, 11. St. Cloud 55.5, 12. Wesley Chapel 53, 13. Chamberlain 47, 14. Hillsborough 46, 15t. Jefferson 42, 15t. Spoto 42, 15t. Freedom 42, 18. Land O'Lakes 39, 19. The Villages 32, 20. Central 21, 21. Weeki Wachee 0.