OCALA - Springstead's mat program picked up where they left off last February.
Season 34 of Eagle wrestling began Saturday in Marion County with five returning starters - known affectionately as the "Big Dogs" by skipper Sal Basile.
Returning state qualifiers Matt Landgraff, Michael McDonald, Andrew Smith, Billy Swift and Corey Humphrey posted a combined 16-0 won-lost slate with nine pins to capture the 7th annual Wildcat Invitational at Ocala-Forest.
The Eagles' other seven first-year grapplers (a third of its starting lineup played in the 6A-II football final Friday night at Seffner-Armwood) registered a combined 10-12 mark with eight pins.
In the well-oiled, one-day, 16-team IBT (individually bracketed tournament), the three-time defending Class 2A state champion Eagles finished with 164.5 points, followed by three-time 1A state champion Live Oak-Suwannee (141.0) and 1A-District 10 Tampa Prep (125.).
Citrus (118.0) finished fourth followed by Gainesville (115.0), Ocala-West Port (85.0) and seventh-place Weeki Wachee (81.5).
The third-year Hornets pushed two into the tourney finals. Senior Anthony Vines (a county-best 12-0) earned WWHS' first-ever gold medal in an IBT event behind four pins in four bouts at 285 pounds.
A 2013 state qualifier, senior Jesus Nieves (10-1), suffered his first loss of the season after 10 wins, dropping the 132-pound final to Lake City-Columbia's Kaleb Warner, 7-2.
According to FHS' head coach Brian Newbold, Central was a no-show.
"Today was pretty cut and dry," explained the second-year skipper Basile, who captured his team's 10th tournament in 11 events over his tenure. "Our 'Big Dogs' carried the day. You saw who our inexperienced guys were. But that picture will change on Monday (when SHS gets it football players on the mat for the first time)."
In evaluating his team's performance, "We always take a team approach. You win or lose together," noted Basile, whose squad captured 26-of-38 bouts (68 percent) behind a tournament-high nine top-six placers featuring 17 pins. "At this point, we can't have guys look so new. We've got a lot to improve on.
"While a lot of the other teams have wrestled over the first couple weeks, overall, I'm happy with how it all went down," he said. "How many teams break in seven first-year guys in one meet and still have the ability to win a tournament? A lot of the credit belongs to our more experienced kids.
"If we would have lost, not having the football players here would have been a crutch," emphasized Basile, whose team hadn't been to the Wildcat Invite since winning it in 2008. "We don't make excuses. We came in here like we always do; wanting to win it."
"Our 'Big Dogs' deserve credit, those guys beat some good kids in the finals . I can't single one champ out over another," said Basile. "As far as our new guys, (freshman) Richie (Rivera) really impressed me.
"The kid weighs 105 pounds and wrestles at 113," pointed out Basile. "In the only match he lost, the other kid was huge. He's going to be the real deal."
Springstead went 5-for-5 in the finals behind top-of-the-podium performances by Landgraff at 106, McDonald at 120, Smith at 138, Swift at 170 and Humphrey at 220.
Landgraff, a two-time state placer, opened the season with back-to-back pins over Daytona Beach-Seabreeze's Keenan Hargrave (0:58) and Suwannee's Brandon Trask (0:33).
In the semifinals, the top-seeded Landgraff solved Randy Rivera-Santiago from Forest, 7-3, before folding Aaron Mills from Tampa Prep, 9-2.
Landgraff, who captured one IBT gold medal as a frosh before collecting four wins last winter, was fighting a chest cold.
"I came in here a little under the weather," explained the 16-year-old Landgraff. "I knew I could win, nothing's holding me back this year."
As far as his toughest match, "The guys I had in the semis and finals were about the same," noted Landgraff. "Neither guy had a style that was aggressive and neither one wanted to shoot and score points."
Unlike Landgraff, who finished 4-0, McDonald went 3-0 for his 10th career IBT gold medal.
The top-seeded McDonald, who captured seven IBTs last winter, opened by flattening Jacksonville-Sandalwood's James Hale (0:38) and Gainesville's Conner Henry (0:15).
In the finals, McDonald defeated Tampa Prep eighth-grader Anthony Artalona, 8-5. Last winter, when Artalona competed for Tampa Bay Christian, McDonald decisioned him in the Brooksville-Kiwanis semis, 5-3.
"The first two guys I faced weren't real tough," explained the 17-year-old McDonald. "Last year, I beat Artalona with about 10 seconds left at Hernando. This time, I felt like I dominated the match. He did get one takedown, but I thought they gave him the points too early - I thought it was just a scramble and we were both rolling around.
On his goals this season, "I need to keep my weight down," said McDonald. "I made 120 real easy; I felt great. I didn't do what I set out to do and that was pin my way through the tournament."
Prior to Saturday night, Smith had only recorded one IBT win - pinning three opponents during last winter's 2A-District 7 Tournament at Springstead.
This time, he opened his second varsity season similar to Landgraff and McDonald with pins over his first two foes: Seabreeze's Blake Becker (1:12) and Gainesville's Aaron Bower (0:28).
In the semis, the 2013 state qualifier wrecked Columbia's Dustin Regar via a 17-1 technical fall.
In the finals, the top-seeded Smith edged Tampa Prep's Leo Tarantino in a plodding tactical match, 4-3.
"I was looking for four pins today to help out the team," explained the 16-year-old Smith. "My cardio was decent, but I'm not wrestling at 100 percent. My knee is feeling much better. Because of it, I missed a lot of practice time prior to this tournament."
As far as the team win, "For missing all the football guys, I thought we did really well," stressed Smith. "The guy I like watching is Richie (Rivera). He's stepped up."
The top-seeded Swift finished 3-0 for his first-ever IBT gold medal by solving 2013 Citrus state qualifier Casey Bearden 39 seconds into overtime behind a two-point takedown, 4-2. The loss was Bearden's first after nine victories.
Humphrey was the top seed in a watered-down five-man bracket.
The Eagle senior, who placed as high as second twice in an IBT event (last year's Springstead Invite and 2A-7 Meet), earned his first top-of-the podium performance behind two pins.
Humphrey folded Citrus' Stephen Mackey (14 seconds) and Seabreeze's Alecsander Smith (55 seconds) for the 26th and 27th pins of his career.
"This was a good tournament to compete in; it's a wakeup call of sorts," detailed the 17-year-old Humphrey. "I can always get better. My cardio is decent."
On the Eagles' tourney win, "A lot of our brand-new guys won matches," said Humphrey. "It's hard to fill a lineup with so many guys on the football team. Right now, I'm just looking forward to Kiwanis (at Hernando High) next week."
Hernando County's other highlight performance belonged to the Hornets' Vines.
After getting blanked in the quest for gold medals in school's first 10 IBTs, the top-seeded Vines pinned his way to the top of the podium by folding Sandalwood's Gary Anderson (1:40), Seabreeze's James Curtice (1:25), West Port's Preston Gibson (2:57) and Citrus' Jonathan Loggins (3:05).
"This (win) is exhilarating," said the 18-year-old Vines, who enters next week's 32nd annual Brooksville-Kiwanis tied with NCT's Mark Espinosa at 12-0. He paces the county in pins with 10.
"I thought the key was the team support," detailed Vines, who finished 21-13 last winter with 14 pins. "Without my teammates, I wouldn't be anything."
On the significance of the program's milestone win, he said, "It's a tremendous win, but I know I've got a lot to work on."
Final 7th Wildcat Invitational Team Standings
PL TEAM CLASS PTS.
1. Spring Hill-Springstead (SPG) 2A-5 164.5
2. Live Oak-Suwannee (SUW) 1A-2 141.0
3. Tampa Prep (TP) 1A-10 125.0
4. Inverness-Citrus (CIT) 2A-5 118.0
5. Gainesville (GAIN) 2A-2 115.0
6. Ocala-West Port (WP) 3A-2 85.0
7. Weeki Wachee (WW) 1A-6 81.5
8. Largo-Indian Rocks Christian (IROC) 1A-11 80.5
9. Daytona Beach-Seabreeze (SEA) 2A6 77.0
10. Ocala-Forest (OF) 3A-2 73.0
11. Lake City-Columbia (COL) 2A-2 72.0
12. Valdosta, Ga. (VALD) n/a 71.5
13. Jacksonville-Sandalwood (SAN) 3A-1 37.0
13. Interlachen (INT) 1A-5 34.0
15. St. Petersburg-Northside Christian (NSC) 1A-11 26.5
16. Ocala-Vanguard (OV) 2A-5 19.0
7th Wildcat Invitational Finals Results
106 - Matt Landgraff (SPG) dec. Aaron Mills (TP), 9-2.
113 - Teancum Haynes (WP) pin Donald Barie (SAND), 1:27.
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) dec. Anthony Artalona (TP), 8-5.
126 - Donoven Hough (TP) pin Dean Shingola (SUW), 1:11.
132 - Kaleb Warner (COL) dec. Jesus Nieves (WW), 7-2.
138 - Andrew Smith (SPG) dec. Leo Tarantino (TP), 4-3.
145 - Matt Tamayo (GAIN) dec. Erich Byelick (IROC), 3-2.
152 - Shawn Brown (SUW) pin Jake Maguire (COL), 1:28.
160 - Kyle Borgus (INT) pin Tyler Foster (SUW), 6:00.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) dec. Casey Bearden (CIT), 4-2 (OT).
182 - Brandon Taylor (CIT) major dec. Selbourne Steward (IROC), 11-2.
195 - Bradley Wiesenauer (CIT) pin Robert Rodriguez (SUW), 4:17.
220 - Corey Humphrey (SPG) pin Alex Smith (SEA), 0:55.
285 - Antony Vines (WW) pin Jonathan Loggins (CIT), 3:05.
7th Wildcat Invitational Consolation Finals Results
106 - Randy Rivera-Santiago (OF) major dec. Traevon O'Neil (GAIN), 11-2.
113 - Richie Rivera (SPG) pin Kenneth Foster (SUW), 2:52.
120 - Dante Padilla (WW) dec. Conner Henry (GAIN), 10-8.
126 - Jon Gardner (GAIN) pin Michael Sampson, 4:02.
132 - Jay Dugmore (IROC) dec. Landon Carter (TP), 7-0.
138 - Kamen Wilmington (NSC) major dec. Dustin Regar (COL), 14-5.
145 - Eric Brown (VALD) dec. Tarique Cabanas (CIT), 5-1.
152 - Conner Allshouse (IROC) dec. Bryan Greenbaum (TP), 4-2.
160 - Malcolm Clemmons (GAIN) dec. Jean Valcius (WP), 5-4.
170 - Sasha Key (SUW) dec. Williams Jacobs (OV), 4-1.
182 - Malik Minter (OV) dec. Luke Helinger (NSC), 5-0.
195 - Taylor Milbradt (OV) dec. Carlos Garcia (SEA), 4-0.
220 - Daveon Bethel (OF) pin Stephen Mackey (CIT), 3:00.
285 - Preston Gibson (WP) won by injury default over Troice Scott (GAIN).
Outstanding Wrestler Light Weights - Kaleb Warner (COL).
Outstanding Wrestler Heavy Weights - Shawn Brown (SUW).
Springstead Individual Results:
WGT NAME W L PINS PL
106 Landgraff, Matt 4 0 2 1st
113 Rivera, Richie 2 1 2 3rd
120 McDonald, Michael 3 0 2 1st
126 D'Alessandro, Quentin 2 2 2 6th
132 Voisinet, Jonathan 0 2 0 -
138 Smith, Andrew 4 0 2 1st
145 Williams, Travis 2 2 1 6th
152 Stoakes, Alex 0 2 0 -
160 Buonanno, Vincent 4 1 3 5th
170 Swift, Billy 3 0 1 1st
220 Humphrey, Corey 2 0 2 1st
285 Erwin, Daniel 0 2 0 -
TOTALS (12) 26 12 17
Weeki Wachee Individual Results:
WGT NAME W L PINS PL
106 Smith, Brandon 2 1 1 5th
120 Padilla, Dante 3 1 1 3rd
132 Nieves, Jesus 2 1 0 2nd
138 Enoch, Brandon 2 2 2 -
145 DeJesus, Nathaniel 0 2 0 -
152 Wilson, Jake 1 2 1 -
285 Vines, Anthony 4 0 4 1st
TOTALS (7) 14 9 9