The three Hernando County high schools will be joined by Citrus High in today's Class 3A, District 4 tournament wrestling tournament, while Lecanto and Crystal River participate in the Class 2A, District 5 tourney at River Ridge.
Central is favored to win the seven-school 3A-4 tournament, which also includes host Springstead, Hernando, Citrus, Hudson, Pasco and Zephyrhills. The top Bears are brothers James and Roy Reyes, who have combined for a 41-1-1 record this year. James (21-1) wrestles 140; Roy (20-0-1) wrestles 130.
Hernando has the impressive low-middle weight trio of Jay Bailey, Chuck Deason and Brad Kuhl. The threesome combined for one loss and one tie this season in the 119, 125 and 135 divisions. Springstead has top seeds in Sal Basile (103), Roy McDowell (160), and John Siddle (189).
Hudson's Tom Dougherty dropped just one match this year, to James Reyes (who also gave Kuhl his only loss); Steve Greene of Zephyrhills has just one loss, to Land O'Lakes's McBride; Jermaine Hicks and Al Garcia are top talents at Pasco.
Wrestling starts at 11 a.m., with consolations at 6 p.m., followed by finals.
River Ridge will follow today's district tournament with the Class 2A state tournament next Saturday. With only eight districts comprised of 44 schools in 2A, there are no regional or sectional tournaments.
Not many schools are home to a state tournament in their first year, but River Ridge's impressive facilities won it the nod.
"One of the goals we set athletically was to have some (post-season tournaments)," River Ridge athletic director Jim Michaels said. "We think this will be very good for the school."
The 2A-5 tournament will include River Ridge, Crystal River, Lecanto, Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg-Northside Christian. Wrestling begins at noon; consolations are at 6 p.m., followed by finals. Due to the distance between the schools, there was no seed meeting.
North Suncoast powerhouse Gulf will join Ridgewood, Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs-East Lake and host Land O'Lakes for the Class 3A, District 9 tourney.
Gulf had five top seeds after a pre-tournament meeting: Robbie Milla (103-pound class, record 12-8); Chris Withrock (112, 19-4); Kenny Adler (140; 17-5); David Glassman (152, 16-6-1); and Tim Soccorso (200, 21-1).
The Buccaneers are strong favorites for a district crown; the 13-1 Sunshine Athletic Conference champions' only loss was to Countryside, which went 12-0 in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference.
But Land O'Lakes impressed with an 11-3 record and could challenge if Gulf has an off day. The Gators have four top seeds: Billy Eviston (119, 10-9-1); Mike Winsbro (130, 21-4); Brian Creuz (160, 17-3) and Mike McBride (275, 22-2-1).
"I worked it out," Land O'Lakes coach Charlie McBride said, "And if everyone finished where they were seeded, we'd come in second."
But that will never happen, right?
"That's right," he said. "I think things can even out. If East Lake will thin out Gulf for us, we have a shot."
The 3A-9 tournament will let everyone get out in time to catch a movie. Wrestling starts at noon, but consolations will start at 4 p.m., followed by finals.
Admission for all tournaments is $3.