SPRING HILL - Despite clutching his second shiny state championship ring in two winters, Springstead senior Michael McDonald said of his outstanding 2012-13 season, "it wasn't enough."
McDonald, in his third varsity season, is the team captain.
As a talented freshman - a product of the vaunted Spring Hill Wrestling Club - McDonald turned heads with a fine 36-11 campaign, featuring 24 pins.
As a frosh, McDonald competed in nine IBTs (individually bracketed tournaments) and placed in seven behind 18 pins.
He failed to place in his first-ever event - the star-studded Cougar Invitational at Tampa Bay Convention Center - and his last, the 48th Class 2A FHSAA Finals at The Lakeland Center.
He earned top-of-the-podium honors following the 30th Brooksville-Kiwanis Invite at Hernando and 2A-District 7 Tournament at Hernando.
In those nine IBTs, the lanky-built McDonald captured 29-of-40 bouts (73 percent) and was named to his first All-County squad.
Last winter, McDonald continued to hone in on his mat skills and was a model of consistency.
Despite a grueling schedule, McDonald placed in all 10 IBTs he competed in.
To demonstrate how much he had progressed, he vanquished 39-of-43 IBT opponents he faced in those pressure-packed bouts (91 percent) behind 27 pins.
Despite concluding his second varsity season at the Jenkins Arena in Polk County, McDonald has refused to accept credit for placing fifth at 113 pounds last winter.
He refutes last winter's brilliant career-best 48-5, highlighted by 33 pins.
He won't dwell on his seven gold IBT medals, including his second district championship and first-ever regional title. He doesn't discuss being named All-County twice.
What does haunt him are his two losses at states: a third-round, gut-wrenching 7-6 setback to Lake City-Columbia senior Cole Schreiber followed by a 74-second pin loss to Riverdale junior Rich Reichelt.
Interestingly, McDonald had beaten both grapplers during the regular season.
Certainly the motivation was in place before this winter for McDonald to continue climbing the mountain toward a state gold medal.
On Saturday, he completed a 5-0 tourney run capped with a clutch 13-3 major decision over Tampa-Jesuit's R.C. Conseguera in the final bout of the day at the Combs 6-Way Duals - to tilt the scoreboard toward Springstead.
With the win, SHS extended its county-record dual-meet streak to 49 wins in a row.
SHS entered that final match down 33-32 to the upset-minded Tigers.
Not only did McDonald save the day for host Eagles, but he improved to 12-0 on the season.
McDonald admitted afterward he had plenty of motivation. He recalled bitterly losing at home in this same tournament the year before to St. Cloud senior Joe McGinley, 5-4.
After that loss, he dealt McGinley back-to-back setbacks.
"I had to make up for what happened here last year," explained the 17-year-old McDonald. "The last guy didn't do a whole lot; he wrestled not to get pinned."
On his mindset, "Before I stepped out there I knew they were ahead by one point and I was going to do everything I could not to let my teammates down again," he added.
Springstead's second-year mentor Sal Basile is McDonald's biggest supporter.
"I've got to give props to Mikey, too," pointed out Basile following his team's come-from-behind win over Jesuit. "There are no guarantees in life or in wrestling. But with Mikey competing in our last match, he's the guy I would want to save my life. I believe in Mikey."
McDonald is a weekend away from returning to Durant High in Hillsborough County for his third Cougar Invitational.
After a 4-2 initial run at Durant as a freshman, McDonald went 5-0 last winter with four pins.
At 96-16 lifetime (86 percent), he's four wins shy of becoming the 23rd Eagle in 34 seasons to reach 100 wins.
McDonald's fire, however, still burns about not attaining his ultimate goal of reaching the top of the podium.
"My goal last year was to win a state championship," he said. "I fell short of that goal. My only goal is to return to states and be a state champion."
By the numbers: Springstead's Michael McDonald (2011-13):
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YEAR W L .PCT PINS
2011-12*% 36 11 .766 24
2012-13+% 48 5 .906 33
2013-14 12 0 1.000 08
TOTALS 96 16 .857 65
% Denotes All-County selection.
* Denotes state qualifier.
+ Denotes state placer (5th).
By the numbers: McDonald's Career IBT Results
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YEAR SITE W L .PCT PINS PL
2011-12 Cougar Inv. 4 2 .667 3 -
2011-12 Kiwanis Inv. 4 0 1.000 3 1st
2011-12 St. Cloud Inv. 4 2 .667 2 4th
2011-12 Springstead Inv. 4 2 .667 2 4th
2011-12 Flagler Rotary Inv. 3 1 .750 3 2nd
2011-12 Brandon Ippolito 3 1 .750 1 2nd
2011-12 2A-7 Tourney 3 0 1.000 1 1st
2011-12 2A-II Tourney 3 1 .750 2 2nd
2011-12 2A State Tourney 1 2 .333 1 -
2012-13 Cougar Inv. 5 0 1.000 4 1st
2012-13 Kiwanis Inv. 4 0 1.000 3 1st
2012-13 St. Cloud Inv. 4 0 1.000 3 1st
2012-13 Knockout 4 1 .800 1 3rd
2012-13 Springstead Inv. 3 0 1.000 2 1st
2012-13 Flagler Rotary Inv. 5 0 1.000 4 1st
2012-13 Brandon Ippolito 4 1 .800 4 2nd
2012-13 2A-7 Tourney 3 0 1.000 2 1st
2012-13 2A-II Tourney 4 0 1.000 3 1st
2012-13 2A State Tourney 3 2 .600 1 5th
2013-14 Wildcat Inv. 3 0 1.000 2 1st
2013-14 Kiwanis Inv. 4 0 1.000 3 1st
TOTALS (21) 75 15 .833 50