LAKELAND - At the conclusion of the 50th annual FHSAA Finals and to no one's chagrin, Brandon captured its 14th straight wrestling state championship at The Lakeland Center.
BHS held up its end of the bargain as the state's premier mat program behind a meet-best 12 placers, featuring seven state champions across nine finals bouts.
Yet, Hernando County's 15-member contingency did not come home empty-handed in the grueling two-day IBT (individually bracketed tournament) spanning 22 hours.
In the 75-team Class 2A field, Springstead (89.5 points) placed third behind 25-time state champion Brandon (237.5) and runner-up Tampa-Jesuit (113.5).
Interestingly, 2A-Region II, aka the "Region of Doom," produced 32 state placers, highlighted by 11 state champions and nine runners-ups.
Coming out of that region was SHS, which captured 17-of-23 individual bouts (74 percent), and crowned its 27th and 28th state champions.
"Due to our situation, I'm happy with third," proclaimed SHS' second-year skipper Sal Basile. "We didn't have many guys left, but we wrestled well in a real tough building. It's always encouraging to see your guys get better as the season goes on and it showed today. Some of our guys are climbing the ladder very quickly
"No one expected Vincent (Buonanno) to make states, but he not only got here, he won a match," added Basile. "A year ago the kid was ineligible. He's straightened up his life with wrestling, he's one of the little reasons coaches are in this game.
"I just wish Corey (Humphrey) could have placed," lamented Basile. "The kid has elevated his level. I love the kid to death. He's progressed so much. But I have no doubt Corey will go out and do great things in life."
Behind 4-0 runs, junior Michael McDonald at 120 pounds and senior Jordan Rivera at 145 each reached the top of the podium in the Jenkins Arena.
The Eagles had two other placers in junior Billy Swift (38-9) at 170 (second) and junior Andrew Smith (44-8) at 132 (third).
In evaluating his team's efforts, "Andrew (Smith) wrestled his butt off," described Basile. "He was one borderline call away from making it four guys in the finals. He had two tough guys on Friday and beat them both. Even after he lost that semifinal in triple overtime, he didn't mail it in - he just kept digging."
On Swift's silver-medal efforts, "No one gave Billy a chance to win against the Brandon kid (Dontae McGee) and he wrestled like it was his last match of his life and nearly won," said Basile. "Here's a guy who has been wrestling less than two years and has placed at states twice - I'm so very proud of Billy."
"My mind was good," maintained the 17-year-old Swift despite losing to McGee, 8-7, in the state finals. "He's human; he's beatable. I thought I left everything on the mats."
Next year's state meet started moments after his narrow setback.
"Nobody I know wants to be an average wrestler," he said. "Even though I lost, I want to go back to work until I have it down perfect. My goal is to come back here and win it all next year."
In 1A, Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons not only etched its fifth state championship but dethroned two-time champ Orlando-Lake Highland Prep, 165.5-149.0.
Hernando High's two-member state squad reeled off a near-perfect weekend - posting wins in 7-of-8 bouts (88 percent) to place eighth with 47 points in the 82-team field.
As expected, Leopard senior Jesse Gaudin became HHS' 12th wrestler to win a state championship by capturing the title at 220, solving Fort Myers-Southwest Florida Christian senior Noah Huxley, 3-2.
Senior Brennan Ertl nearly matched Gaudin's efforts, but settled for the silver medal at 160.
Central senior Brandon Brown became the Bears' first state placer since 2003, finishing third behind a solid 4-1 run at 182.
Weeki Wachee senior Dante Padilla, who went 3-3 in his second state tourney, became the school's first-ever state placer (sixth) at 120.
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Rivera smashed several school and county records en route to his second straight gold medal.
In a county-record fourth state tournament, Rivera (38-4 this year, 163-23 lifetime) placed for the fourth time.
In Saturday's semifinals, he blanketed Gainesville senior Matthew Tamayo, 5-1.
That victory set up the rubber match this winter between Brandon senior Troy Joyce and Rivera. The duo had split 3-2 wins.
For the third straight time Joyce failed to notch a two-point takedown as Rivera led from the opening whistle for a 5-4 decision.
Rivera's second title pushed him deeper into elite Hernando County company.
The four-year letterman and defending Hernando Today Wrestler of the Year joined Hernando's Addison Chipoletti and Springstead's Corey Hill, Richie Bliss, Cody Ross, Dustin Swanton, Schuyler Swanton, Virgil Toms and Nick Soto as multiple state champions.
Additionally, Rivera's 4-0 weekend run pushed him to 17-2 lifetime at states, vaulting him over previous Hernando County leaders Ross and Hill, who each recorded 15 state wins.
After dropping a personal-high three matches on the second day of the Knockout Classic II at Kissimmee-Osceola, Rivera finished on a 22-1 tear.
"All week long the coaches were hammering away reinforcing that I was the better wrestler (than Joyce) so I knew I just had to go out and have some fun and do what I do best," explained the 18-year-old Rivera.
Rivera pointed out that defending last year's gold medal was tougher than winning it.
"Honestly, I had a target on my back everywhere I went. I realized I was the guy everybody wanted to beat," he said. "As a result, I kind of put undue pressure on myself."
According to Rivera, the seasonal turning point was at Osceola County.
"That second day was a rude awakening, but it turned out to be a good thing because I started to do all the little things necessary to win matches," Rivera said. "Doing all the little things better separates the winners from the losers."
On winning his final prep match in front of 10,000 fans at The Lakeland Center, "I couldn't have dreamed of a better ending," noted Rivera. "I couldn't be any happier. I owe so much to my coaches for pushing me and my teammates for always supporting me."
Rivera took a moment to salute his family and faith.
"My whole family was here again," he said. "I've been coming to Lakeland since I was 4 to root for other members of the family. I have to dedicate this gold medal to my mom and to my savior Jesus Christ."
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McDonald, the Eagle captain, took a dramatic approach to his first-ever state gold medal.
In Saturday's semifinals, the three-time state qualifier smothered Bradenton-Lakewood Ranch sophomore Dylan Cameron, 6-0.
That set up a rematch with Brandon frosh Ty Lucas in the finals.
A week ago, McDonald avoided any trouble with two terrific early scrambles before pinning Lucas in 2:57.
This time, Lucas brought a tactical approach which allowed him to build what appeared to be a comfortable 5-2 lead with 37 seconds remaining in the match.
Down the stretch McDonald earned a two-point takedown and permitted Lucas one point with less than 10 ticks. The three-time state qualifier spun behind Lucas for a critical two-point takedown to send the match into overtime at 6-all.
In the extra session, with momentum at his back, McDonald notched another two-point takedown for the 8-6 win as the crowd erupted in a display of appreciation.
Not only had last year's fifth-place finisher earned the first of three Hernando County gold medals on the night, but McDonald also concluded the season behind a rare 44-0 run.
McDonald became the 10th Eagle grappler to complete a perfect season en route to a state title joining: Gerard DeCristofaro (48-0 in 2000-01), Nick Soto (45-0 in 2009-10), John Stevenson (42-0 in 1997-98), Dustin Swanton (41-0 in 1998-99), Corey Hill (37-0 in 1996-97), Hill (35-0 in 1995-96), John Lane (33-0 in 1990-91), Kenny Cox (30-0 in 2009-10) and John Dreggors (29-0 in 2011-12).
"I remember seeing the clock with 37 seconds left and I was down three," explained the 17-year-old McDonald. "I told myself I wasn't going to settle for second.
"In overtime, things were going my way so I went straight at him," said McDonald, following his career-high 45th straight win.
McDonald praised SHS skipper Sal Basile's persistence.
"No one works harder in the room than we do," he detailed. "The way we practice helps prepare us all for matches like that."
"My goal was go through the season as an undefeated state champion," insisted McDonald. "I'm fortunate to come out on top of both.
"I want to dedicate this win to my outstanding coaches," pointed out McDonald, "Coach Basile, (assistant coaches Charley) Combs and (Mike) LaRocca and to my parents for always supporting me; most importantly to my teammates for always encouraging me."
On SHS' gold medalists, "We almost got three champs. Billy nearly came through," noted Basile. "Mikey (McDonald) is one of those special guys you get every few years. You really want guys like him to get rewarded for all the work they've put in. And to do it at states, trailing by three points against a Brandon kid is something I know I'll never forget."
On Rivera, "The kid's a gamer. He came through when we really needed him last year and this year, too" insisted Basile. "We all know that if he wrestles his way, he's going to win. We knew the Brandon kid would be tough to beat a second time, but Jordan took it right to him."
Round 1 Results:
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) tech. fall Shawn Lanier (OAKLEAF), 16-0.
132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) pin Joey Epstein (RIDGEVIEW), 4:38.
145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Michael Lockwood (ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY), 7-1.
160 - Chase Zahalka (FORT MYERS) major dec.Vincent Buonanno (SPG), 9-1.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) major dec. Colton Whittaker (ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY), 13-3.
195 - Robert McLachlan (PALMETTO) dec. Corey Humphrey (SPG), 5-1.
160 - Vincent Buonanno (SPG) major dec. Jerry Vail (PBM), 13-2
195 - Corey Humphrey (SPG) pin Gaige Robbins (EAU GALLIE), 2:53.
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) won by injury default Colton Thomas (Fort Myers).
132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) dec. Wilmer Almendarez (Mater Academy), 8-2.
145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Joey Nadotti (PALMETTO RIDGE), 5-2.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) dec. Shamar Johnson (CHOCTAWHATCHEE), 7-3.
160 - Joseph Cambron (PACE) dec. Vincent Buonanno (SPG), 12-6.
195 - Fred Saliba (CHOCTAWHATCHEE) dec. Corey Humphrey (SPG), 8-3.
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) dec. Dylan Cameron (LAKEWOOD RANCH), 6-0.
132 - Tanis Taylor (BARRON COLLIER) dec. Andrew Smith (SPG), 4-3 (3 OT).
145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Matthew Tamayo (GAINESVILLE), 5-1.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) dec. Casey Bearden (CIT), 8-3.
132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) dec. Kolin Stapp (JENSEN BEACH), 3-0.
132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) pin Anthony Hauser (OAKLEAF), 1:18.
Round 9: (CHAMPIONSHIP)
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) dec. Ty Lucas (BRANDON), 8-6 (OT).
145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Troy Joyce (BRANDON), 5-4.
170 - Dontae McGee (BRANDON) dec. Billy Swift (SPG), 8-7.
Round 1 Results:
120 - Dante Padilla (WW) pin Dy'Juan Carney (WAKULLA), 2:29.
126 - Donoven Hough (TAMPA PREP) pin Mark Espinosa (NCT), 0:54.
132 - Josh Calhoun (BOLLES) dec. Jesus Nieves (WW), 8-4.
160 - Brennan Ertl (HER) dec. Ricky Almodovar (SOUTHEAST), 8-3.
170 - Matt Kirkland (MONSIGNOR PACE) tech. fall Le'Shaun Gray (NCT), 16-1.
182 - Brandon Brown (CEN) pin Will Clervil (JUPITER CHRISTIAN), 3:55.
220 - Damon Golden (BOOKER) pin Anthony Contegiacomo (NCT), 3:36.
220 - Jesse Gaudin (HER) pin Jarad Escorcia (CLEWISTON), 5:09.
285 - DeAngeles Harris (WOLFSON) pin Anthony Vines (WW), 1:47.
126 - Mark Espinosa (NCT) dec. Michael Brown (MENENDEZ), 3-1.
132 - Jesus Nieves (WW) dec. Jonathon Astascio (BRADENTON SOUTHEAST), 5-4.
170 - Tupac Isme (LELY) major dec. Le'Shaun Gray (NCT), 12-3
220 - Anthony Contegiacomo (NCT) dec. Osvelt Joseph (BOOKER T. WASHINGTON), 9-2.
285 - Joe Hernandez (CLEWISTON) pin Anthony Vines (WW), 1:40.
120 - Brady Moser (AMERICAN HERITAGE) dec. Dante Padilla (WW), 6-5.
160 - Brennan Ertl (HER) pin Jarraid Forsyth (STARKE), 0:53.
182 - Brandon Brown (CEN) pin Nathan Tyre (WAKULLA), 0:26.
220 - Jesse Gaudin (HER) major dec. David Trigg (UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN), 15-3.
120 - Dante Padilla (WW) pin Steven Arce (TITUSVILLE), 1:17.
126 - Brock Carlan (ARNOLD) pin Mark Espinosa (NCT), 2:26.
132 - Dylan Martin (CLAY) dec. Jesus Nieves (WW), 3-1.
220 - Austin Nelson (CARDINAL GIBBONS) dec. Anthony Contegiacomo (NCT), 5-1.
120 - Dante Padilla (WW) dec. Anthony Ward (MARIANNA), 10-4.
160 - Brennan Ertl (HER) pin Caleb Loyd (CLAY), 3:27.
182 - Raekwon Reggler (SOMERSET) pin Brandon Brown (CEN), 3:47.
220 - Jesse Gaudin (HER) dec. Alejandro Lopez (MARINER), 5-3.
120 - Bryce Rogers (LAKE HIGHLAND PREP) dec. Dante Padilla (WW), 12-6.
182 - Brandon Brown (CEN) dec. Petronito Maron (BAYSHORE), 3-2.
120 - Gianni Dattollico (MARINER) major dec. Dante Padilla (WW), 16-8.
182 - Brandon Brown (CEN) dec. Diego Bell (CARDINAL GIBBONS), 5-2.
Round 9: (STATE CHAMPIONSHIP)
160 - Shawn Brown (SUW) dec. Brennan Ertl (HER), 13-6
220 - Jesse Gaudin (HER) dec. Noah Huxley (SOUTHWEST FLORIDA CHRISTIAN), 3-2.
2014 HERNANDO COUNTY STATE RESULTS
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
WGT NAME SCH W L PINS PL
120 McDonald, Michael SPG 4 0 0 1st
132 Smith, Andrew SPG 4 1 2 3rd
145 Rivera, Jordan SPG 4 0 0 1st
160 Buonanno, Vincent SPG 1 2 0 -
170 Swift, Billy SPG 3 1 0 2nd
195 Humphrey, Corey SPG 1 2 1 -
17 6 3 -4-
120 Padilla, Dante WW 3 3 2 6th
132 Nieves, Jesus WW 1 2 0 -
285 Vines, Anthony WW 0 2 0 -
4 7 2 -1-
160 Ertl, Brennan HER 3 1 2 2nd
220 Gaudin, Jesse HER 4 0 1 1st
7 1 3 -2-
126 Espinosa, Mark NCT 1 2 0 -
170 Gray, Le'Shaun NCT 0 2 0 -
220 Contegiacomo, Anthony NCT 1 2 0 -
2 6 0 -0-
182 Brown, Brandon CEN 4 1 2 3rd
4 1 2 -
Final Class 2A Top 10 Team Standings (75 teams)
PL. TEAM PTS.
1. Brandon (BRA) 270.5
2. Tampa-Jesuit (TJ) 119.5
3. Springstead (SPG) 89.5
4. Jensen Beach (JENB) 87.0
5. Lakeland-Lake Gibson (LKG) 68.0
6. Naples-Palmetto Ridge (PALR) 65.0
7. Naples-Barron Collier (BARC) 64.5
8. Bradenton-Lakewood Ranch (LKWR) 42.0
9. Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte (CHA) 39.0
9. Fivay (FIV) 39.0
Final Class 1A Top 10 Team Standings (82 teams)
PL. TEAM PTS.
1. Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons (CG) 165.5
2 Orlando-Lake Highland Prep (LHP) 149.0
3. Tampa Prep (TP) 80.5
4. Green Cove Springs-Clay (CLAY) 79.0
5. Miami-Monsignor Pace (MPAC) 59.5
6. Cape Coral-Mariner (MAR) 59.0
7. JAX-University Christian (UNIC) 48.0
8. Hernando (HER) 47.0
9. Crawfordville-Wakulla (WAK) 45.5
10. Largo-Indian Rocks Christian (IROC) 45.0
33. Central (CEN) 18.0
43.(tie)Weeki Wachee (WW) 11.0
59.(tie)Nature Coast Technical (NCT) 2.0
All-Time Hernando County State Wrestling Champions (45):
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
NAME SCH YR CLAS WGT
Gaudin, Jesse HER 2014 1A 220
Rivera, Jordan SPG 2014 2A 145
McDonald, Michael SPG 2014 2A 120
Rivera, Jordan SPG 2013 2A 138
Vovan, Brandon NCT 2013 2A 160
Rivera, Jordan SPG 2013 2A 138
Redman, Sean SPG 2012 2A 145
Ross, Cody SPG 2012 2A 152
Dreggors, John SPG 2012 2A 285
Bliss, Richie SPG 2011 2A 103
Toms, Virgil SPG 2011 2A 130
Soto, Nick SPG 2011 2A 135
Ross, Cody SPG 2011 2A 140
Landgraff, Shawn SPG 2011 2A 152
Bliss, Richie SPG 2010 2A 103
Toms, Virgil SPG 2010 2A 125
Soto, Nick SPG 2010 2A 130
Ross, Cody SPG 2010 2A 135
Cox, Kenny SPG 2010 2A 215
Pritz, Daniel HER 2010 1A 145
Bliss, Richie SPG 2009 2A 103
Swanton, Schuyler SPG 2008 2A 112
Swanton, Schuyler SPG 2007 2A 103
Rotunda, Windham HER 2005 1A 275
Chipoletti, Addison HER 2005 1A 189
Chipoletti, Addison HER 2004 1A 171
Chipoletti, Addison HER 2003 1A 171
Booker, Matt SPG 2001 1A 130
DeCristofaro, Gerard SPG 2001 1A 140?Pritz, Robert HER 2000 1A 140
Stevenson, Jim SPG 2000 2A 125
Smith, John HER 1999 4A 152
Swanton, Dustin SPG 1999 5A 125
Swanton, Dustin SPG 1998 5A 119
Stevenson, John SPG 1998 5A 112
Gant, Richard HER 1997 4A 125
Hill, Corey SPG 1997 5A 145
Mallin, Mike CEN 1997 4A 189
Hill, Corey SPG 1996 5A 145
Gordon, Reppard HER 1995 4A 152
Sang, Omah CEN 1994 3A 171
Deason, Chuck HER 1993 3A 125
Kuhl, Brad HER 1992 3A 135
Lane, John SPG 1991 3A 145
Hudson, Genard HER 1987 3A UNL
Hamilton, Michael HER 1982 3A 185
Springstead's Unbeaten State Champions
PL. W-L NAME YEAR
1. 48-0 DeCristofaro, Gerard 2000-01
2. 45-0 Soto, Nick 2009-10
3. 44-0 McDonald, Michael 2013-14
4. 42-0 Stevenson, John 1997-98
5. 41-0 Swanton, Dustin 1998-99
6. 37-0 Hill, Corey 1996-97
7. 35-0 Hill, Corey 1995-96
8. 33-0 Lane, John 1990-91
9. 30-0 Cox, Kenny 2009-10
10. 29-0 Dreggors, John 2011-12