Eagles restore dignity, claim 20th Springstead Invite crown

FAB FIVE – Springstead High’s 2019 Corey Hill champions include first row (left to right): Joe Gallo and Dominic Nardini. Back row: Dillon Housel, Chris Morales and Christian Reynolds. Morales is also clutching one of two Outstanding Wrestler Awards that were presented. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s James Spencer works for an escape against Camberlain High’s Earnest Johnson during the heavyweight final at the Corey Hill Invitational. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s Chris Morales controls Westport High’s Jonathan Rodriguez in the 152
pound final at the Corey Hill Invitational. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s Dillon Housel looks to finishWest Port’s Devin Dietz in the 160 pound final at the Corey Hill Invitational. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

WRESTLING

After getting spanked at

South Beach Duals, SHS

rolls 8 placers, 5 champs

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

SPRING HILL – A week ago, F.W Spring stead’s famed mat program suffered an all-time low ebb at Fort Lauderdale.

But after setting school records for futility – dropping six matches in two days at the South Beach Duals – Head Coach Mike LaRocca’s troops restored some luster this weekend.

During the two-day, 20-team Corey Hill Memorial Invitational, the Spring Hill mat men walked in with a skeleton-like squad – 10 grapplers.

But against watered-down competition – remember for the first time in 29 years a loaded Hernando High team opted not to compete in this meet – SHS produced 29 victories across 36 bouts (81 percent) to collect its 20th Springstead Invitational title in 29 years with 191.5 points.

The win served as its 11th over the past 13 winters at home.

The defending 34-time district champion Eagles pushed a meet-high six into the finals and departed with five champions and a meet-best eight placers.

As a result, 2A-5 SHS padded its tournament record to 212 career placers in this event behind its record 109 individual champions.

Defending 2A-9 champ Dunedin finished runner-up with 148.0 points behind three champions in four finals bouts.

Additionally, DHS senior Jacob Krebs at 126 pounds was voted the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestlers among Lightweights while Springstead senior Chris Morales received OSW for Heavyweights at 152.

While Krebs became the first Falcon named, of the 46 career OSW recipients, Morales added his name as the Eagles’ 27th.

Tourney recap

On Day 1, the Mariner Boulevard crew displayed no malaise from the weekend before collecting 12 wins across 14 matches.

After a 19-5 effort on Day 2, the Eagles nearly swept its six finals.

The consolation finals, the momentum began as first-year senior Amadeus Reif at 170 pounds and junior Luis Perez at 138 each placed third.

In the finals, sophomore Dominic Nardini at 106 pounds, frosh Joe Gallo at 120, Morales at 152, junior Dillon Housel at 160 and senior Christian Reynolds at 220 each garnered their first-ever Springstead Invite gold medal.

Brinks job

According to the crowd, senior James Spencer at 285 was robbed of a title.

In the fourth overtime – the modern term being bantered is sudden victory – his rematch against Chamberlain senior Earnest Johnson was tied at 3-all.

Since Spencer scored the matches’ first points, he opted to select the bottom position.

But in a match where Johnson seemingly locked hands – trying to keep Spencer down – at least four times. The head official never called for a violation.

So at the end of the fourth OT, when Spencer could not “legally” get up, Johnson won the rematch of the Kiwanis Invite finale loss to the Eagle via criteria, 3-3.

The loss snapped Spencer’s career-best 20-match win skein.

The non-locking hands call also cost Spencer a chance at his first Springstead Invite crown.

James Spencer

Despite departing with a silver medal and career 86-35 slate, Spencer wasn’t volcanic afterward.

“He’s the same ref we had at the Hernando dual last year. I guess it’s my fault. Coach is always telling us not to leave a match in the ref’s hands or this could happen,” explained the 17-year-old.

“He’s (Johnson) is a tough guy, but I’ll see him again probably in regionals and maybe at states. It’s not like he destroyed me,” pointed out Spencer.

On the Eagles‘ return to the top of the podium, “Everyone wrestled a lot better this weekend,” stressed Spencer. “From here, I‘ll work harder on breaking hands and getting out from the bottom. When I get back to practice, I’ll starting preparing for St. Cloud.”

Nardini tops King

As the No. 2 seed, Nardini opened the meet mashing Land O’ Lakes freshman Cole Henderson via a 16-1 technical fall.

Next, the 2018 state qualifier stuck Leesburg sophomore Connor Zylowski in 2:41 before besting No. 3 seeded Dominic Molinari of Dunedin in the semis, 8-1.

In the finals against top-seeded Jordan King of Chamberlain, Nardini trailed 1-0 after two periods.

In the final period, he earned a 1-point escape before taking King down with nine seconds left for a 3-1 tactical victory.

The duo split its first two meetings last year.

Dominic Nardini

After registering his 60th career triumph in 1½ seasons, Nardini (20-4 overall) relaxed.

“This was big,” indicated 15-year-old 2018 All-County performer. “A poll had King ranked No. 1 in the state. That same poll had me in eighth.

“I’ve waited for a long time for this match. King beat me here last year. I don’t like losing, so I was looking forward to wrestling him again.”

On Nardini’s mindset going into the final period, down 1-0, “The first thing was I need I had to get one (point),” he said. “It was a matter time before I pulled the trigger on a nice shot. I knew it was there.”

On the matches’ significance, “It was big because of who I wrestled. To me, records don’t matter, But you always want to wrestle the better kids.

“When I got here, my back was bugging me again. Fortunately, Dr. (Chris) LaRocca treated me and I felt good enough to go.”

Gallo joins select company

Gallo opened the season in the dog house.

After having difficulties making 113 pounds, he’s bumped up to 120.

Based on his performance, he’d do well to stay at his current weight class.

Walking in as the No. 4 seed, he opened the meet folding Citrus freshman Gavin Waller in 1:48 and Pasco junior Darrion Skeily in 2:28.

In the semis, he was confronted by Belleview senior and top-seeded Rocky Yarbrough.

Incidentally, Yarbrough had bested Gallo in a back-and-forth match during the 2A-5 Duals, 10-6.

It was same type of match in round two.

Yarbrough led 10-6 until the last 10 seconds when Gallo dropped him for a two-point take down and received three back points for the days’ most-thrilling victory, 11-10.

In the finals against St. Cloud senior Justin McGinley, after a scoreless first period, Gallo pinned him in 3:25.

Gallo‘s 12th pin of initial varsity season put him into select company.

Cody Ross

As a rare freshman Springstead Invite champion, he matched a feat savored by few including: Josh Herrera in 2013, Jordan Rivera in 2012, Cody Ross in 2009 and Jimmy Stevenson in 1997.

Of this elite company, Herrera was a state runner-up in 2013, Stevenson won a state title in 1998, Rivera won twice (2013-14) and Ross was an eventual three-time state champion (2010-12).

Joe Gallo

Winning for the first time here feels pretty nice,” expressed the 14-year-old Gallo. “It’s funny, I wasn’t feeling well. In that semifinal win, I thought I was sloppy. It should never have come down to the last 10 seconds.”

Rewinding his initial IBT finale, “In the finals, the kid caught me with a standing switch before I was able to turn him,“ noted Gallo, who improved to 15-8 overall.

On the difference a couple of weeks has made, “I’m getting mentally more into wrestling at 120,” he said. “It helps that we‘re banging in the room everyday. Coach LaRocca got on us after last weekend and we all wrestled a little better this time.”

Morales mows ’em down

After leaving with a silver medal from this event in 2017, Morales had plenty of motivation to do even better this time.

The three-year starter, who has been dialed in and dominant since Day 1 this winter, mowed down three opponents to improve to a team-best 22-0.

As the top seed, the 2018 state placer and two-time state qualifier, Morales opened and closed the meet the same way with a trio of pins.

He stuck Hudson’s Ezekiel Mercado in 1:27, stuffed Land O’ Lakes’ Scot Kren in 1:48 before clashing with a 2018 Class 3A state qualifier and exceptional student/athlete in Jonathan Rodriguez of West Port.

Rodriguez, who carries a 4.0 GPA, fell victim in 84 seconds.

Chris Morales

Morales’ team-high 15th pin this winter sealed his 107th career win – across 125 bouts (86 percent),

“It tastes good to win at home,” beamed the 18-year-old Morales. “This was long over due. The toughest guy I wrestled was my own mind.

On the difference between last season, “It‘s all about my mindset. I‘m walking into every match mentally ready to dominant,” shared Morales. “Since last year, I dictate what the other kid will do.

“Winning this and just getting 100 wins both taste especially good.” he added.

On the team bouncing back, “The team is starting to come around. Guys are still falling short of their individual goals, but we‘re getting closer as a team. That’s where I come in as a motivator.”

Housel’s successful return

When the Eagles were ambushed at Fort Lauderdale, it vacated four weight classes. One of them was Housel at 160.

A bum ankle sidelined him.

Though he’s still not 100 percent, the second-year grappler turned in his best-ever IBT.

Housel, who was 8-14 and did not compete in the state series last winter, might be the most improved wrestler – this side of Christian Reynolds.

As the No. 2 seed, he opened the meet flattening Spencer O’Neill of St. Cloud in 3:22.

In the semis, he never trailed in besting Pasco‘s Noah Bensley, 5-2.

In his first-ever IBT finale, he faced top-seeded West Port senior Devin Dietz.

The gangly Housel tallied six of matches’ eight points in the first period en route to an 11-3 major decision.

Dillon Housel

“My ankle still isn’t right,” noted the 16-year-old Housel. “It hurt the whole time this weekend I went into my final’s match just wanting to take him down and ending it early.”

On the big difference from a year ago, “I’m so much more comfortable at 160. I was wrestling up at least two weight classes last year. I’ve kinda filled out and I feel like I’m getting better. I have to continue to stick to the basics,” said Housel, who climbed to 13-4 overall.

2 IBTs spell two golds for Reynolds

In his second IBT of the season, the much-improved Reynolds (18-2 overall, 72-35 lifetime) steamrolled all three of his foes by pin falls.

Only Morales duplicated the feat.

Reynolds, a 2018 state qualifier, entered as the top seed.

He began the event pinning The Villages’ sophomore Carson Holt in 2:47 before folding Amir Burgess of Pasco in 1:51.

Christian Reynolds

In the finals, he needed 82 second before flattening Dunedin junior Adam Bouzoubaa.

“I was looking for my first-ever gold medal in an IBT here,” said 17-year-old Reynolds. “I knew I could win it. I felt good after winning my first two matches.

“In the finals, I just wanted to wrestle to best of my abilities. The last guy is very tough in the neutral position.”

Final analysis

LaRocca wasn’t beating his chest afterward.

Mike LaRocca (right) with assistant coach Joe Gallo. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Let’s face it he admitted there was no Hernando, Lake Gibson, Palmetto Ridge, Flagler Palm Coast in this event this year.

“This was a weaker tournament than before. The competition level wasn’t like it’s been in the past,” noted LaRocca. “Still, for us this (win) was huge. It gets us off the deck.

“I thought it started well with Nardini beating King. I thought Dom controlled the match. I wasn’t worried at all about him.

“…Housel did a phenomenal for a guy who can’t stand up straight,” said LaRocca. “Gallo might have had his best tournament. it’s a good sign.

“…Chris (Morales) does what he does. I think he’s proved to people that he doesn’t have to be at 145 to have success. The kid has been on a mission since the season started.”

On what happened in a week, “Look, we got humbled last week, but it was good to get a championship a week later. Our younger wrestlers guys, like (Caleb) Mallek and (Amadeus) Reif, more importantly, continue to get better.”

Looking ahead

SHS will return to the mats on Jan. 17 for the 2A-II regional duals – most likely at either Harmony or Deltona High.

2019 Final Corey Hill Memorial Team Standings:

Springstead Eagles
 

PL.

 

TEAM

 

CLASS

 

PTS.

1.

Spring Hill-Springstead (SPG)

2A-5

191.5

2.

Dunedin (DUN)

2A-9

148.0

3.

Ocala-West Port (WP)

3A-2

119.0

4.

Lecanto (LEC)

2A-5

105.0

5.

St. Cloud (STC)

3A-5

102.0

6.

Dade City-Pasco (PAS)

2A-7

88.0

7.

Tampa-Chamberlain (CHAM)

2A-9

82.0

.8..

The Villages (TV)_

1A-7

81.5

9.

Belleview (BELL)

2A-5

57.0

10

Inverness-Citrus (CIT)

2A-5

52.0

11.

Gainesville (GAIN)

2A-2

49.0

12.

Auburndale (AUB)

2A-7

44.0

13.

Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch (WGR)

3A-7

42.0

14.

Ocala-Lake Weir (LWR)

2A-5

41.0

15.

Land O Lakes (LOL)

2A-8

40.0

16.

Leesburg (LEE)

1A-5

30.5

17.

Hudson (HUD)

1A-6

27.0

18.

Bradenton-St. Stephens Episcopal (SSE)

1A-11

23.0

19.

Hillsborough (HILL)

2A-8

18.0

20.

Valrico-Foundation Christian (FCA)

1A-70

3.0

All-Time Springstead Invitational

Tournament Champions

                   Springstead Eagles
 

YR.

 

TEAM

 

PTS.

2019

Spring Hill-Springstead

191.5

2018

Spring Hill-Springstead

2017

Bunnell- Flagler Palm Coast

198.5

2016

Spring Hill-Springstead

162.5

2015

Spring Hill-Springstead

216.0

2014

Bunnell-Flagler Palm Coast

241.0

2013

Spring Hill-Springstead

229.5

2012

Spring Hill-Springstead

248.0

20113

Spring Hill-Springstead

251.0

2010

Spring Hill-Springstead

328.5

2009

Spring Hill-Springstead

255.5

2008

Spring Hill-Springstead

216.5

2007

Spring Hill-Springstead

197.0

2006

Tampa-Jesuit

222.5

2005

Tampa-Chamberlain

175.5

20044

Brooksville-Hernando

202.0

2003

Brooksville-Hernando

209.0

2002

Spring Hill-Springstead

193.0

2001

Spring Hill-Springstead

253.5

2000

Spring Hill-Springstead

196.0

1999

Spring Hill-Springstead

209.0

1998

Spring Hill-Springstead

232.0

1997

Spring Hill-Springstead

212.5

1996

Tampa-Jesuit

170.5

1995

Spring Hill-Springstead

170.5

1994

Dade City-Pasco

157.5

1993

Spring Hill-Springstead

181.5

1992

Palatka

156.5

1991

Spring Hill-Springstead

145.0

 

2019 Springstead Invitational Finals:

106 – Dominic Nardini (SPG) dec. Jordan King (CHAM), 3-1.

113 – Diego Mendez (LEC) dec. Jacob Reynolds (CIT), 8-5.

120 – Joe Gallo (SPG) pin Justin McGinley (STC), 3:25.

126 – Jacob Krebs (DUN).pin Jake Manning (STE), 5:38.

132 – Travis Knowlton (PAS) dec. Cameron Rima (TV), 7-6.

138 – Michael Fiero (WP) pin Cy Mendez (LEC), 2:53.

145 – John Jenelle (DUN) dec. Ethan Hatcher (TV), 10-7.

152 – Chris Morales (SPG) pin Jonathan Rodriguez (WP), 1:24.

160 – Dillon Housel (SPG) major dec. Devin Dietz (WP), 11-3.

160 – Bronson Carter (GAIN) major dec. Ricky Hernandez (WP), 16-7.

182 – Desrion Arnold (DUN).pin Riley Sorensen (BELL), 3:16.

195 – Timothy Johnson (PAS) major dec. Drew Hess (CIT), 10-2.

220 – Christian Reynolds (SPG) pin Adam Bouzoubaa (DUN), 1:22.

285 – Earnest Johnson (CHAM).won by criteria over James Spencer (SPG), 4 OT, 3-3.

20197 Springstead Invitational

Consolation Finals:

106 – Dominic Molinari (DUN). Major dec. Sophia Anderson (STC), 15-4.

113 – Kyle Eldridge (LOL) pin Jean Carlor Pineda (HILL), 1:56.

120 – Rocky Yarbrough (BELL) pin Darrion Skeilly (PAS), 4:15.

126 – Bryce Dodge (WP).pin James Creech (TV), 3:20.

132 – Alex Alvarez (WGR).pin Jonathon Vasquez (CHAM), 0:59..

138 – Luis Perez (SPG) major dec. Mailo Johnson (DUN), 10-1..

145 – Tanner Crichton (AUB) dec. Theo Massalion (WP), 9-6.

152 – Wilfredo Martinez (STC). pin Scott Kren (LOL), 2:20.

160 – Joshua Santana (LWR) dec. Noah Bensley (PAS), 4-2.

170 – Amadeus Reif (SPG) dec. Evan Harrison (LEC), 8-7 (OT)..

182 – Dakota Rood (LEC).pin Valdemar Guerra (STC), 2:05.

195 – Zaelijah Holmes (CHAM) pin Kobe Roque (DUN), 2:06.

220 – Jonathan O’Neill (AUB) pin Jonathan Potter (BELL), 2:42.

285 – Cameron Carr (LWR) pin James Bowman (LEC), 0:33.

2019 Springstead Invitational Awards:

Outstanding Wrestler Lightweights – Jacob Krebs (Dunedin)

Outstanding Wrestler Heavyweights – Chris Morales (Springstead).

All-Time Springstead Invitational Outstanding Wrestlers (1991-2019/29 Seasons)
– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

David Pritz
 

YR.

 

OSW

 

SCHOOL

 

GR

 

WGT

1991

John Lane

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

145

1992

Jay Bailey

Brooksville-Hernando

12

119

1993

Mike Marshall

Spring Hill-Springstead

10

134

1994

Mike Marshall

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

134

1994

Sean Peterson

New Port Richey-River Ridge

10

112

1994

David Kabbe

Inverness-Citrus

11

119

1995

Gilbert Burgos

Spring Hill-Springstead

10

103

1996

Mike Maguire

Tampa-Jesuit

12

112

1997

Richard Gant

Brooksville-Hernando

11

125

1998

Brad Oversmith

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

130

1999

Dustin Swanton

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

125

2000

Robb Philippus

Hudson

12

215

2001

Gerard DeCristofaro

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

140

2002

Tommy Walker

Spring Hill-Springstead

10

112

2003

Fabien Lewars

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

130

2004

Nate Pozzi

New Port Richey-River Ridge

12

140

2005

David Pritz

Brooksville-Hernando

11

171

2006

Schuyler Swanton

Spring Hill-Springstead

10

103

2006

Michael Combs

Brooksville-Hernando

12

160

2007

Schuyler Swanton

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

103

2007

Skylar Huff

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

119

2007

Kyle Paladini

Valrico-Bloomingdale

12

142

2008

Dustin Soto

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

103

2008

Rey Perez

Dade City-Pasco

12

189

2009

Cody Ross

Spring Hill-Springstead

9

119

2009

Psalms Radway

Lakeland-Kathleen

11

152

2010

Colton Zimmermann

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

145

2010

Thomas Ellerbee

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

160

2011

Virgil Toms

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

130

2011

Shawn Landgraff

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

152

2012

Josh Herrera

Spring Hill-Springstead

9

132

2012

Cody Ross

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

152

2013

Stephen Pavao

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

120

2013

Taylor Jackson

The Villages

12

182

2014

Michael McDonald

Spring Hill-Springstead

11

120

2014

Jordan Mainer

Orlando-Edgewater

12

160

2015

Michael McDonald

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

126

2015

Conor Ross

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

170

2016

Kevin Rivera

Spring Hill-Springstead

10

132

2016

Anthony Contegiacomo

Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical

12

220

2017

Nic Bouzakis

Citrus Park Christian

7

106

2017

Travis Williams

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

170

2018

Avery Holder

Bunnell-Flagler Palm Coast

12

138

2018

Bryce Bakken

St. Cloud

12

195

2019

Jacob Krebs

Dunedin

12

126

2019

Chris Morales

Spring Hill-Springstead

12

152

NOTE: After 2005, two OSW (one for lightweights, one for heavyweights) was selected.

Springstead Individual Results

 

WGTRK.

 

NAME

 

YR

 

W

 

L

 

PINS

 

PL

 

106

Nardini, Dominic

10

4

0

1

1st

 

120

Gallo, Joe

9

4

0

3

1st

 

138

Perez, Luis

11

3

1

2

3rd

 

145

Mallek, Caleb

10

2

2

2

 

152

Morales, Chris

12

3

0

3

1st

 

160

Housel, Dillon

11

3

0

1

1st

 

170

Reif, Amadeus

12

3

1

2

3rd

 

195

Curl, Kyle

11

2

2

1

 

220

Reynolds, Christian

12

3

0

3

1st

 

285

Spencer, James

12

2

1

2

2nd

 

TOTALS (10)

 

29

 

7

 

20

 

6

 

 

 

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