Pasco senior Nate Engel barely missed a state championship when he lost in the finals of the 112-pound class in Lakeland last month. In two weeks, he'll have a chance for even greater honors.
Engel has accepted an invitation to the National High School Coaches Association's Senior Nationals in Cleveland. He'll leave with coach Mark DeAugustino on April 3. The tournament is April 5 through 7 with a field of seniors who reached their state championship match.
"Everyone he wrestles will be a state champion or runner-up, and all seniors, so it's not going to be easy," DeAugustino said. "Personally, I think he'll be an All-American."
To do so, Engel would have to finish in the top eight in his weight class, but as an added advantage, he will drop from the 112-pound class he competed in this season to 106 pounds.
Because Zephyrhills' Shane Hand is only a junior, Engel will be the only North Suncoast wrestler attending the competition.
Engel has kept busy since finishing second at states, earning titles at invitational meets in Lakeland and Port Charlotte.
_ GREG AUMAN