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The Eagles' Schuyler Swanton and the Pirates' Eric Stroud each take home titles.
Published Feb. 19, 2008

The North Suncoast area has not seen the level of success it enjoyed at the state wrestling championships in some time.

Between the Hernando and Pasco County schools represented at this weekend's tournament at the Lakeland Center, the area was able to place 16 wrestlers and walk away with two individual titles.

The most notable champion was Springstead's Schuyler Swanton, who took a 1-0 decision over Brandon's Terry Dawson. The senior repeated his title from last year, winning 112-pound crown in Class 2A.

"Definitely harder the second time around," Swanton said. "With everyone gunning for you, you feel like there's a big target on your back."

Swanton paced an Eagles squad that finished sixth in Class 2A behind only Brandon, which won its eighth straight team state title.

Springstead (60.5 points) placed two others: Skylar Huff took third place at 119 pounds, and C.J. Cook finished fourth at 125 pounds.

"It's tough to be satisfied when you don't reach all of your goals," Springstead coach Eric Swensen said, "but I couldn't be prouder of our guys."

The top area program in Class A was Hernando, which finished in eighth place with 56 points.

The Leopards were led by three individual placers: Daniel Fritz (third place at 125 pounds), Jesse Graham (second at 140) and Nick Pauliot (fifth at 189).

Pasco (55) was able to crown one champion before the night was over. Even though Ray Perez lost his 189-pound finals match, Eric Stroud (215) made up for years of disappointment with his first title.

The senior heavyweight described his experience in the finals with only two words: "Life changing."

Zephyrhills, River Ridge and Ridgewood were the other North Suncoast schools to place wrestlers in the tournament.

Brandon's Eric Grajales (130 pounds) won the first individual title for the Eagles with a major decision. He finished the season 57-0 and won his third state title.

Times correspondent Terry Jones contributed to this report.