Weeki Wachee's wrestling team returned home Saturday with its first-ever trophy, placing runner-up in the 2nd Diamondback Duals at Belleview. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO.

Hornets claim first-ever mat trophy, place runner-up at Diamondback Duals

WRESTLING Leopards finish fifth in two-day, 15-team even BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com In Year 4 of the Weeki Wachee mat program, the Hornets reached a milestone this weekend in Marion County. The Hornets reached the tournament finals Saturday in the two-day, 15-team (Bradenton Christian failed to show up) 2nd annual Diamondback Duals Wrestling Tournament at Belleview High. Through 10 bouts in the finals, the Hornets were tied with tourney-favorite and…

NCT senior Mark Espinosa collected his first-ever regional title Saturday in Clay County. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Espinosa, Contegiacomo garner gold at inaugural Trojan Invitational

WRESTLING Minus four starters, NCT finishes sixth in 17-team field BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com There’s a good reason the 23-3 Nature Coast Technical Sharks finished sixth out of 17 teams in the inaugural Trojan Invitational Wrestling Tournament Saturday night at Tallahassee-Lincoln. The Sharks arrived minus four starters, injured seniors Jeramie Jazikoff, Le’Shaun Gray and Frank Ritchie along with junior Deshawn Smith, who was attending a football combine. To no one’s…


Eagles thump state runner-up Tigers in Combs Duals III final, 52-18

WRESTLING 5 Springstead grapplers roll unbeaten including Landgraff, McDonald, Swift, Ross, Erwin BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com SPRING HILL – This time there was no suspense. There would also be no cliffhanger between two of Class 2A’s premier mat teams Saturday afternoon at Springstead during the 5-Way Combs Duals III Wrestling Tournament, sponsored by Combs Service, Inc. Last winter in the final match of day, Springstead captain Michael McDonald‘s 13-3 major…


Lady Sharks deny Bears its initial district crown, 48-37

5A-7 GIRLS BASKETBALL Jones and Jarque combine for 27 points in NCT’s sixth district title BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – A gutsy gamble by fifth-year Nature Coast Technical mentor Emily Gore, inserting the team’s leading scorer, senior center Rita Jarque, who was saddled with three first-half fouls, back into the fray eventually paid dividends. Down 18-11 to the upset-minded Central Bears in the Class 5A, District 7 girls basketball…

River Ridge captured the regional quarterfinal via suden death penalty kicks on this shot at Shark Tank Stadium. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Knights celebrate Sweet 16 twice, stun Sharks via sudden victory PKs, 2-1

3A-II BOYS SOCCER NCT ties game in regulation with 0:05 ticks remaining on Gilbert Delgado goal BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – In several ways visiting 3A-8 runner-up River Ridge celebrated Sweet 16 moments Thursday night upsetting 3A-7 champion Nature Coast Technical (13-9-4) at Shark Tank Stadium, 2-1. The victory served as the Royal Knights (16-5-2) first in the regional round in 16 seasons, or since solving Leesburg in overtime…

Springstead sophomore Jakari  Jones and the Eagles host the Combs 6-Way Duals III Saturday in Spring Hill. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

State runner-up Tampa-Jesuit rolls into Combs Duals III at SHS

WRESTLING Sharks at Lincoln, Leopards, Hornets at Diamondback Duals BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Four of Hernando County’s five mat programs – Springstead, Nature Coast Technical, Hernando and Weeki Wachee – will compete at three different venues this weekend. Springstead is hosting the 6-Way Combs Duals on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. NCT journeys Saturday to the first-ever 17-team Trojan Invitational at Tallahassee-Lincoln High. Meanwhile, Hernando and Weeki Wachee venture to…

Springstead senior Matt Landgraff finished 3-0 with two pins to capture the gold medal and the meet's Outstanding Wrestler Award for lightweights at Palmetto Ridge. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Disgruntled Eagles return with 10 placers, 3 champs from Palmetto Ridge

WRESTLING Landgraff, Swift, Ross garner gold as SHS places third BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com For the second time in three winters, host Naples-Palmetto Ridge hoisted a championship trophy following the two-day, watered down 20-team Chase Life Invitational Wrestling Tournament in Collier County. On the down side, the state’s best team this winter, Class 3A juggernaut Homestead-South Dade, along with four other teams never made the expected trip. According to area…

NCT sophomore Gilbert Delgado (3) enters the regional quarterfinals with a team-best 13 goals. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO.

Upset-minded Royal Knights invade Shark Tank

BOYS SOCCER Hornets journey to loaded Sunlake BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com In a year of firsts for Hernando County soccer, Nature Coast Technical will host a regional quarterfinal playoff tilt Thursday while Weeki Wachee will make its regional debut. The Class 3A, District 7 runner-up Hornets (11-6-4) journey to face 3A-7 champion Land O’ Lakes-Sunlake Seahawks (25-1-0) at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the 3A-7 champion Nature Coast Technical (13-8-4) will entertain…


Round 3: Bears face Sharks in all-Hernando County final

  5A-7 GIRLS BASKETBALL Central ousts Pasco, 53-36 NCT eliminates Z‘hills, 60-33 BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com BROOKSVILLE – As Pasco County’s final two entries in the original seven-team Class 5A, District 7 Girls Basketball Tournament – Pasco and neighboring Zephyrhills – were eliminated Wednesday at Nature Coast Technical, it set up Friday night’s all-Hernando County final. In the first of two semifinals, third-seed Pasco (16-8 overall) sliced what was a…

Spring stead's Samantah Betters was able to elude Land O" lakes Goal-Keeper Lauren Arabito to score her second of the night and fiftieth goal of the year. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Land O’ Lakes’ Cannata deals, Springstead reels, 4-2

3A-II GIRLS SOCCER Gator junior pours in 3-goal hat trick; Betters spoils shutout behind 49th& 50th goals BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com LAND O’ LAKES – A pair of future Southeastern Conference strikers put on a goal-scoring clinic Tuesday at “The Swamp” during the Class 3A, Region II girls soccer semifinal. For a second straight winter Land O’ Lakes junior Victoria “Tori” Cannata helped eliminate a Hernando County squad. Last winter,…

Springstead's defense is expected to feature in the front, goalie Nicole Sullivan and back (left to right) Noelle Rosa, Alesha Tinney, Alexis Greenstein and MacKenzie Reiss. Not pictured: Merriel Reyes. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Springstead’s defense: No time to rest

GIRLS SOCCER 3A-II semifinal success hinges on Eagle backline BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Through 25 seasons, or from 1990 to the present, F.W. Springstead’s girls soccer program has played 500 matches. Not one game, however, has been contested past a regional semifinal round. In fact in a generation of Hernando County futbol, only the 2012-13 Nature Coast Technical Sharks have achieved a regional final. If the Lady Eagles elect to…


Bears, Hornets, Leopards line up for 5A-7 tipoff at NCT

GIRLS BASKETBALL 6A-10: Largo at Springstead at 7 p.m. Monday 2A-8: HCA battles Citrus Park at Keswick at 6 p.m. Tuesday BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com Post-season hoops have arrived for the county’s female varsity basketball teams. Each of the county’s six programs face a win or go home district scenario at three different venues. Four local teams – Brooksville-Central, Brooksville-Hernando and Weeki Wachee and host Nature Coast Technical – comprise…

Springstead junior and 2013 and 2015  Hernando County Player of the Year, Sammy Betters, led the Lady Eagles to the Class 3A, Region II semifinal at Land O' Lakes. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Lady Gators overwhelming favorites against visiting Springstead

  GIRLS SOCCER Land O’ Lakes hasn’t lost to the Lady Eagles since Jenny O’Sullivan era in 1995 BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSports.com If ever another David faced Goliath, consider Tuesday’s 7 p.m. Class 3A, Region II girls soccer semifinal at “The Swamp” pitting visiting F.W. Springstead (20-1-1) at Land O’ Lakes (21-1-1). The stakes are huge. The matches’ survivor will host Friday, Jan. 30’s 3A-II final against the winner of…



– Compiled by TONY CASTRO TOP 10 WGT NAME, SCHOOL BEN-CLN-TOTAL 101 – Kristina McCane (SPG) 105-105—210 110 – Calleigh Brannan (WW) 105-105—210 110 – Calleigh Brannan (WW) 100-110—210 119 – Kalysta Matheus (WW) 115-135—250 129 – $*Ashley Gentz (NCT) 155-170—325 129 – $*Ashley Gentz (NCT) 160-165—325 139 – *Megan Lane (HER) 160-145—305 154 – Samantha Traudt (NCT) 120-140—260 169 – Madeline Genuardi (SPG) 135-135—270 183 – Madeline Genuardi (SPG)…

NCT senior Mark Espinosa, shown here at the Combs III Tourney against Citrus' Devon Carmack, claimed his 100th career win last Saturday at the Rob Hermann Cup Duals in Inverness. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO.

Sharks’ Espinosa has unfinished business on the mats

WRESTLING NCT senior seeks his first IBT victory BY TONY CASTRO HernandoSport.com In the wrestling terms, Nature Coast Technical senior Mark Anthony Espinosa is a living paradox. For all of Espinosa’s mat achievements to date — specifically his 103 career wins, 54 pin falls and a trip to states — to rank among the top 10 in each of those categories at the California St. campus, his career cup may…