After placing fourth in the Durant Cougar Invitational, Springstead coach Eric Swensen pronounced the Eagles' first tournament a success.
"I was just hoping for a top-5 finish, and we accomplished that and more," Swensen said. "We answered a lot of early-season questions there."
One of those answered questions seems to be who will step up for the Eagles at 215 pounds. The answer seems to be Jerrod Reynolds. After winning a wrestle-off to compete against Nature Coast in last week's dual. Reynolds won his first match with a pin, then went on to place fourth at Durant, one of the toughest fields the Eagles will face all season.
There are more questions that follow Reynolds now that he has a stronghold on the 215 varsity spot.
"We need to know what kind of wrestler he is going to be," Swensen said. "Is he satisfied with placing or does he want to take it to the next level?"
The only thing for sure is he will have solid team leadership along with the other newcomers to the Springstead lineup.
All-American Schuyler Swanton (103) is undefeated this season after taking first at Durant. He is the favorite going into this weekend's 25th annual Kiwanis Invitational at Hernando. Swanton made the finals of last season's tournament, but is expecting to take home first this time around.
Mike Heaney (189) missed weight before the Nature Coast dual, but did not seem to miss a beat once he got to Durant. He took second, losing a close match in the finals to Suwannee's Lee Laxton. Laxton took third place in Class A last season.
Cesar Acosta (171), Keith Hanson (152), C.J. Cook (125), Skylar Huff (119) and Steven Bliss (112) are expected to compete for Kiwanis titles also, but Springstead will be without region qualifier Bobby McCarthy (135). McCarthy suffered a concussion during practice last week and is expected to miss the next two weeks before he can get back on the mat.
ROTUNDA NOT SATISFIED: Hernando's Taylor Rotunda (215) was disappointed with his performance at last weekend's Sebastian River Shark Invitational. Hernando took sixth overall at the difficult tournament.
"Taylor was a little off (last) Saturday," Hernando coach Brian Flanagan said. "He's been working extra hard all week in preparation for Kiwanis."
Only Jesse Graham (145), one of the Leopards' two returning state qualifiers, nabbed an individual crown at Sebastian River. After starting slowly last season and coming on strong, Graham looks to be in midseason form and primed for a repeat performance at states.
Brandyn Kuhn (160) took second last weekend, but the home tournament has always been a major source of pride for Hernando wrestlers. He and Flanagan expect big things from the team leader.
LINDO GETS BIG STAGE: After taking first overall at 160 pounds in the only major tournament Nature Coast has competed in this season, Alfredo Lindo will get his chance to shine at Kiwanis.
Lindo went 5-0 at the Pasco Dr. McBath Tough Team Tournament a couple weeks ago, and coach Mike Lastra expects that performance to be only a taste of things to come for his young middleweight.
Kiwanis by far will be the toughest field Nature Coast will face in the first half of the season, so Lindo's effort should be a good barometer of where the Shark needs to go from here on out.
25th annual Kiwanis Invitational
Where: Hernando High
Time: Friday - Weigh-ins: 12:30 p.m., first round: 3 p.m., Saturday - Wrestling resumes: 10 a.m., finals: 6 p.m.
Teams: Springstead, Hernando, Nature Coast, Lecanto, Crystal River, Citrus, Gainesville, Pasco, the Villages, Belleview, Dunnellon, Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch, Lakewood Ranch, Freedom, North Marion, Lake Weir, Hudson, Sickles, Gulf.
2005 champion: Gainesville
The skinny: The longest-running local tournament has attracted programs from all over the state in the past. The tournament field is as strong as ever this time around with Springstead among the favorites again. After finishing second last season, Schuyler Swanton (103 pounds) is looking for his first Kiwanis title this season. Hernando's Brandyn Kuhn (160) and Jesse Graham (145) should be among the favorites for tournament titles.