Road to Recovery: Eagles click restart button with Corey Hill Invite this weekend

WRESTLING

Nineteen mat squads

will challenge SHS

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Prep athletics is cyclical. It’s the nature of business as long as your school isn’t named Tampa-Jesuit, Lakeland Highland Prep or Bishop Moore – to name a few area private school powerhouses.

Seldom do public school athletic programs avoid going from first to last.

F.W. Springstead’s position as the North Suncoast’s premier mat program – outside of legendary Brandon – has rarely been compromised.

There have, however, been few bumps in the road.

But one of them occurred during last weekend’s South Beach Duals at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

The Eagles journeyed to Broward County for the first time ever for a tourney outside the state tournament.

The results? In a word, the Eagles were disastrous.

Head Coach Mike LaRocca towed in a squad forfeiting four weight classes to compete in Pool B.

On Day 1, the Spring Hill mat men were ambushed four times by Del Ray Beach-American Heritage 41-19, Boca Raton-Olympic Heights, 39-24, Palmetto Ridge, 64-12, and Wellington Community School, 42-33.

How long was Day 1? Never before in 37 winters had a Springstead team ever dropped four matches in one day.

It got worse.

Coach LaRocca was fuming at the Eagles’ performance.

Yet, his team was to open Day 2 against his former boss – Tampa-Jesuit’s Sal Basile.

Eric Swensen and Basile guided the Eagles to Hernando County’s first-ever string of back-to-back-to-back state championships from 2011-13.

Sal Basile Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

LaRocca tinkered with the idea of pulling his squad and departing on the 4½-hour return trip to Hernando County, but in his words “didn’t want to leave Jesuit (and Coach Basile) hanging.”

So, SHS opened Day 2 against the Tigers. The Mariner Boulevard crew was mauled by Jesuit, 60-13.

Though LaRocca’s team was scheduled to receive a bye before finishing up pool play and cross bracketing for its final matches.

But the third-year Eagles’ mentor had more than made up his mind. He pulled the plug on facing 1A-14 Coral Springs Charter – essentially forfeiting the match.

As a result, SHS departed Broward County with an odious 0-6 slate.

The horrific effort set school records.

Six losses in one weekend was more than any previous SHS team had ever endured.

The Spring Hill mat men, who arrived 9-1 overall (only other loss was to Tarpon Springs-East Lake, 38-37, for the championship of the Southside Duals), hit the road leaking oil at 9-7 overall.

The seven dual meet losses currently stands as the second-most ever in school history.

Only Roy Reyes’ 2002-03 squad that finished 11-10 overall is worse.

Reyes’ reign lasted two seasons before he was not rehired.

Bob Levija

The Eagles’ road to recovery began when Athletic Director and wrestling Hall of Famer Robert “Bob” Levija hired Swensen as Reyes’ replacement.

Eric Swensen

It must be noted, SHS walked into that event short-handed and unprepared for the mine field that lay ahead.

That falls squarely on the shoulders of LaRocca.

But it must be also pointed out, the teams SHS lost to weren’t chumps.

Though American Heritage and Coral Springs Charter – both tiny 1A schools – placed sixth and 17th in last year’s Class 1A State Finals in Kissimmee.

Remember, that’s the same meet a loaded Hernando High team finished with zero placers and placed 33rd overall.

Just a reminder, in the 2018 2A State Finals, Jesuit was 18th, Palmetto Ridge was seventh and Olympic Heights was sixth.

It should be noted, Springstead extended its county record with its 20th Top 10 state finish (eighth) last winter.

So, it’s not like Springstead was swarmed under by a bunch of misfits.

Corey Hill

All this is the backdrop prior to the Eagles hosting its own invite – renamed the Corey Hill Memorial Invitational after the urban legend passed away three years ago – on behalf of the four-time state placer (1993-97) and back-to-back state champ from 1996-97.

Whose coming?

The tourney was temporarily switched to a dual meet format in 2018, returns to its original IBT (individually bracketed tourney) format this winter.

Over nine of last 11 Springstead IBT Invites, the Eagles have closed Day 2 as tourney champions.

The field is expected to feature: Auburndale, Belleview, Bradenton-St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Tampa-Chamberlain, Inverness-Citrus, Dade City-Pasco, Dunedin, Foundation Christian Academy, Gainesville, Hillsborough, Hudson, Ocala-Lake Weir, Ocala-West Port, Land O’ Lakes, Lecanto, Leesburg, St. Cloud, The Villages, Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch and host Spring Hill-Springstead, 3300 Mariner Boulevard, in Spring Hill.

The two-day tournament begins Friday at noon. Saturday action is expected to begin with semifinals at 10 a.m.

Consolation finals at 4 p.m. followed immediately by the finals.

The top three teams earn trophies while the top four finishers in each weight class earn medals.

Two Outstanding Wrestler Awards will also be presented.

SHS: Plenty of motivation

Due to the meltdown in Broward County, the Eagles arrive in a foul mood, but with plenty of motivation.

It’s similar to how the Eagles felt after being beaten during the initial six Knockout Classic events at Kissimmee-Osceola High.

Mike LaRocca

Fortunately, the Mariner Boulevard crew has shown some moxie over the past six winters bouncing back after literally been clubbed in the mouth.

“Our guys basically went through the motions in Lauderdale,” expressed Coach LaRocca. “We didn‘t go in full strength. We basically were giving away 24 points on Day 1 and 30 on Day 2.”

“Our young guys needed the mat time, that’s why we chose to go there instead of the Knockout. I love the Knockout. Sometimes eating some humble pie is necessary to reach your goals,” noted LaRocca, a 1998 state qualifier, on why SHS has frequented the Knockout.

“At Lauderdale, (Caleb) Mallek fought hard but won one match. Other youngsters, Amadeus (Reif) and Kyle (Curl) regressed. Luis (Perez) tweaked his knee, so he wasn’t effective. Overall, we’ve got to step up our game.”

As far as positives, LaRocca pointed to seniors Chris Morales at 152 pounds and James Spencer at 285, who rolled up perfect 5-0 records.

Chris Morales
Jams Spencer

Both Morales and Spencer paced the team with three pin falls apiece.

Morales, Hernando County’s defending Wrestler of the Year, enters his final IBT at SHS with a perfect 20-0 mark this season.

Spencer is step behind at 19-0.

SHS’ other two returning state qualifiers, senior Christian Reynolds at 220 and sophomore Dominic Nardini at 106, both finished 3-2 at the South Beach Duals.

“Spencer looked great. He hit a gramby roll to pin one opponent,” beamed LaRocca. “And Morales has been dominant the entire season.”

On what LaRocca wants to see this weekend, “We need our kids to wrestle like they’ve taught. We’ve got to stay away from the funk and stick with fundamentals. We should have Dillon (Housel) back (tweaked ankle) in the lineup and that’ll help.

“… There’s some talent here, but we as coaches have to bring it out.” 

AT A GLANCE

WHAT – Corey Hill Invitational Wrestling Tournament.

                     Springstead Eagles

WHO – Twenty teams featuring: Auburndale, Belleview, Bradenton-St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Tampa-Chamberlain, Inverness-Citrus, Dade City-Pasco, Dunedin, Foundation Christian Academy, Gainesville, Hillsborough, Hudson, Ocala-Lake Weir, Ocala-West Port, Land O’ Lakes, Lecanto, Leesburg, St. Cloud, The Villages, Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch and host Spring Hill-Springstead.

WHERE – Springstead High’s gymnasium, 3300 Mariner Boulevard, Spring Hill.

WHEN: Two-day tournament begins Friday at noon. Saturday action is expected to begin with semifinals at 10 a.m. Consolation finals at 4 p.m. followed immediately by the finals.

AT STAKE: The top three teams earn trophies while the top four finishers in each weight class earn medals. Two Outstanding Wrestler Awarda will also be presented.

All-Time Springstead Invitational

Tournament Champions

       Springstead Eagles
 

YR.

 

TEAM

 

PTS.

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

12-28/29: Springstead at South Beach Duals @ Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center

Springstead Individual Results

(thru 5 matches)

 WGT                   NAME

YR

W

 L

PINS

 

106

Nardini, Dominic

10

3

2

0

 

120

Gallo, Joe

10

1

4

1

 

126

Ortiz, Kris

12

1

4

0

 

132

Desmond, Kyle

11

0

2

0

 

138

Perez, Luis

11

0

4

0

 

145

Mallek, Caleb

10

1

4

0

 

152

Morales, Chris

12

5

0

3

 

170-182

Reif, Amadeus

12

1

4

1

 

195

Curl, Kyle

11

1

4

0

 

220

Reynolds, Christian

12

3

2

0

 

285

Spencer, James

12

5

0

3

 

TOTALS (11)

 

21

 

30

 

8

Round 1

Del Ray Beach-American Heritage 41, Springstead (SPG) 19

106 – Dominic Nardini (SPG) major dec. Andrew DeSola, 10-0113 – Jonathan Hudson (AH) won by forfeit.

120 – Rafael Romero (AH) dec. Joe Gallo,10-6

126 – Vincenzo Napolitano (AH) pin Kris Ortiz, 3:54

132 – Donovan Ortiz (AH) pin Kyle Desmond, 0:15

138 – Frankie Tal Shahar (AH) technical fall Luis Perez, 17-2

145 – Joseph Nicolosi (AH) dec. Caleb Mallek, 13-6

152 – Double forfeit

160 – Chris Morales (SPG) pin Joseph Myers, 1:38

170 – Alex Cruz (AH) pin Amadeus Reif, 0:47

182 – Double forfeit

195 – Mikey Tal Shahar (AH) pin Kyle Curl, 1:45

220 – Christian Reynolds (SPG) dec. Chase Thompson, OT 2-1

285 – James Spencer (SPG) won by forfeit.

Round 2

Boca Raton-Olympic Heights, 39, Springstead (SPG) 24

106 – Dominic Nardini (SPG) dec. Elijah Castillo, 9-4.113 – Joshua Castillo (OH) won by forfeit.

120 – Joe Gallo (SPG) pin Leidaly Rivera, 1:53

126 – Fabian Jaramillo (OH) dec. Kris Ortiz, 2-1

132 – Marcus Rivera (OH) pin Kyle Desmond, 0:59

138 – Max Wyatt (OH) dec. Luis Perez, 8-3

145 – Evan Senior (OH) pin Caleb Mallek, 2:55

152 – Chris Morales (SPG) pin Cameron Dingman, 3:05

160 – Double forfeit

170 – Daniel Fishkin (OH) pin Amadeus Reif, 1:09

182 – Daniel Granda (OH) won by forfeit.

195 – Kyle Curl (SPG) won by forfeit.

220 – Wilkinson Saul (OH) dec. Christian Reynolds, 6-5

285 – James Spencer (SPG) dec. Brandon DiPrima (OH), OT 4-2

Round 3

Palmetto Ridge (PR) 64, Springstead (SPG) 12

106 – Cullen Guerrero (PR) dec. Dominic Nardini, 7-0113 – Brennan Van Hoecke (PR) won by forfeit.

120 – Ben McCallister (PR) major dec. Joe Gallo, 14-3.

126 – Richie Montero (PR) pin Kris Ortiz, 4:00.

132 – Adrian Ayala (PR) won by forfeit.

138 – Hector Henriquez (PR) pin Luis Perez, 2:00

145 – George Zertopoulis (PR) pin C.aleb Mallek, n/a

152 – Chris Morales (SPG) pin Evan Rodriguez (PR), 0:50.

160 – Antonio Petraglia (PR) won by forfeit.

170 – Anthony Mesamours (PR) pin Amadeus Reif, 3:48.

182 – Angel Mendez (PR) won by forfeit.

195 – Ryan Tutt (PR) pin Kyle Curl, 1:44.

220 – Trillyon Fils-Aime (PR) dec. Christian Reynolds, 2-1.

285 – James Spencer (SPG) pin Raymond Peralez, 1:51.

Round 4

Wellington (WEL) 42, Springstead (SPG), 33

106 – Dominic Nardini (SPG) technical fall Brandon Crosby, 15-0.113 – Londinn Townsend (WEL) won by forfeit.

120 – Chakiris Townsend (WEL) pin Joe Gallo,0:38

126 – Kris Ortiz (SPG) dec. Ethan Howard, 6-1.

132 – Jesse Weinberg (WEL) won by forfeit.

138 – Lukas Forehand (WEL) pin Luis Perez, 0:45.

145 – Caleb Mallek (SPG) major dec. Seth Rhodes, 12-1.

152 – Chris Morales (SPG) technical fall over Zakar Graham, 19-4.

160 – Adam Farrish (WEL) won by forfeit.

170 – Amadeus Reif (SPG) pin Juan Quintero, 0:40.

182 – Tenzin Tognini (WEL) won by forfeit.

195 – Alex Zepeda (WEL) pin Kyle Curl, 0:26.

220 – Christian Reynolds (SPG) major dec. Elijah Green, 9-0.

285 – James Spencer (SPG) pin Preston Morrow, 2:54.

12-29:

Round 5

Tampa-Jesuit (TJ) 60, Springstead (SPG) 13

106 – Kai Owen (TJ) dec. Dominic Nardini, 4-0113 – Braden Basile (TJ) won by forfeit.

120 – Tom Crook (TJ) pin Joe Gallo, 1:34

126 – Jack Crook (TJ) pin Kris Ortiz, 3:40.

132 – William McGill (TJ) won by forfeit.

138 – Sergio Desiante (TJ )won by forfeit.

145 – Ethan Basile (TJ)technical fall Caleb Mallek, 23-8.

152 – Chris Morales (SPG) major dec. Miguel Coste, 19-10.

160 – Tim Eberly (TJ) won by forfeit.

170 – Karol Piedad (TJ) major dec. Amadeus Reif, 14-5

182 – Aidan Gingell (TJ ) won by forfeit.

195 – Andre Mortensen (TJ ) pin Kyle Curl, 1:55

220 – Christian Reynolds (SPG) dec. Mason Arnold, 4-2.

285 – James Spencer (SPG) pin Ryan Nelson, 3:11.

Round 6

Coral Springs Charter School wins via forfeit over Springstead

 

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