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'Canes program possesses solid foundation for future

Last weekend at Avon Park, Citrus shocked everyone by walking away with the Class A region team title.

The Hurricanes surprised everyone, that is, except assistant coach Mike Porcelli.

Porcelli is only in his second season as an assistant to Citrus coach Rob Hermann, but his influence on the athletes cannot be overstated. His name comes up unsolicited when talking to anyone associated with the program.

From senior leader Mike Musto to Hermann himself, every person on the team swears by Porcelli's practice regimen.

"There's a reason that we have one sophomore going to states (Bryant Fisher) and a freshman (Craig Barker) who was knocking on the door," Hermann said. "(Porcelli) is to credit for their on-the-mat improvement."

The Hurricanes were considered on par with some of the other decent programs in the area, but over the past four months, they have been molded into a tight-knit unit. Citrus qualified three for state including Musto (152), Fisher (112) and senior Josh Walters (171).

Porcelli is a former Iowa State wrestler who once was an alternate for the U.S. national team. He has coached Division I and III wrestling, and was a coach at Bradenton Bayshore before coming to Citrus last season.

Since he has instilled his practice routines, the Hurricanes have taken steps toward becoming a program with quite a bright future ahead.

"We're building something here," Porcelli said. "I try to bring an intensity and confidence to these guys."

Hermann believes he can see where Citrus is heading three or four years down the line.

"We are starting to reach these athletes while they're young, on the elementary and middle school levels," Hermann said. "(Porcelli) and I have established summer clubs to get these kids interested in the sport."

The wrestling room at Citrus has the names of past state qualifiers painted on the walls, and after more than 20 years, the room has barely half a wall full.

Wrestlers at Citrus may look back and remember the 2006 region championship as revolutionary. Twenty years from now, the whole room may be filled not only with state qualifiers, but possibly the Hurricanes' first individual state champion.

"We changed the culture here," Porcelli said, "but we still have a long way to go from here."