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Slew of seniors make for solid Jesuit squad

Jesuit placed second in the 27-team Durant Invitational on Saturday. The Tigers scored 174, just seven points behind winning Fort Myers Riverdale.

"Our team is mature with nine senior veterans," Jesuit coach Jason Musial said. "They stay after practice and work out on their own and never quit in a match."

Matt Lynn, 171 pounds, and Paul Lazaro, 285, are undefeated. Both were singled out by Musial as part of the leadership.

"Endurance is one of the key elements of our wrestling that gives us the edge in most of our matches," Lynn said. "They work hard to be able to win against strong opponents or in overtime.''

He said the team runs at least 2 miles each day to work on its endurance.

Other seniors include Craig Spranger (145), Kyle Bertoluzzi (160), Shea Ford (152), C.J. Pruner (135), Doug Holder (130), James Mooney (215), and on the injured list is Garrett Alicandro (125).

''Across the board, this is the most experienced team I have coached," Musial said. "Most of them have four years experience with our team and program and are working hard to improve individually and improve on their 16th-place finish last year at state."

Musial says his team has plenty of room to get better. He has scheduled tough tournaments, including the Plant City, Graves, Palm Harbor Duals and prestigious Ippolito Memorial at Brandon.

His goal is to provide competition for his team and peak at the state meet in mid-February.

"This is the first year we have placed near the top five in the Cougar Invitational," he said. "And this was the largest and toughest tournament they have had, with two good teams from Miami and several individual state champions.

"I hope this finish is the kind of wrestling we can expect for the rest of the season."

COUNTY TEAMS DO WELL: Brandon dominated the 22-team East Lake Invitational Saturday, scoring 305.5 points and winning eight individual weight championships.

Bloomingdale finished third behind Countryside (179.5) with 170 points. The Bulls won two individual titles.

Chamberlain senior Patrick Spano (160), plus Matt Lynn (171) and Paul Lazaro (285) were the only county wrestlers winning individual championships in the Durant Tournament.

Spano dominated Gulf Coast High opponent Dustin Meneley, ultimately pinning him at three minutes, 19 seconds. He is 11-0 and has 113 career wins.

Durant was the second county team to place in the top 10 in its tournament, scoring 119 points for eighth.

Chamberlain finished 14th with 80 points.

Brandon champs at East Lake included Eric Grajales (112), Kyle Keller (119), Joey Cozart (125), Kevin Timothy (130), Zaq Berridge (140), Sean Joyce (145), Tommy Timothy (160) and Sean Patrick (171).

Bloomingdale's individual champs included Chris Figari (135) and Kyle Paladini (152). Paladini scored a 2-1 decision over Brandon's state contender Keith Koziel.

In the Brandon-Bloomingdale dual match earlier in the season, Koziel scored a 7-4 decision over Paladini. The two likely will meet in a couple more matches before the state run starts in early February.

The state contenders will go separate ways in districts. Bloomingdale will go into Class 3A and Brandon into Class 2A.

NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: The National High School Coaches Association is sponsoring the national tournament Friday and Saturday at Brandon.

Easton (Pa.) will be the highlight team coming to compete in Florida for the first time.

In addition to defending 2A state champs from Brandon, the Class A state championship team from Jupiter and 3A runnerup Miami South Dade are in the mix. Competition is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Friday, resume at 10 a.m. Saturday and finish with finals at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Brandon gym. Tickets are $5 per session.