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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Eagles McDonald, Rivera garner Ippolito gold

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: January 21, 2014 at 03:56 PM

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BRANDON - Make that 8-for-8 for Brandon High's wrestling team.

The legendary Hillsborough County-based Eagles captured their eighth straight mat tournament this season behind a meet-best nine placers and meet-high seven individual champions.

For the 24-time state champions - including the last 13 state titles in a row - the Ippolito victory was the 21st in a row and 28th overall.

The 30th Tony Ippolito Memorial Tournament concluded Saturday night with the same results since 1994 - as head coach Russ Cozart's Class 2A, District 7 Eagles crushed 35 opposing teams including runner-up North Port, 302.5-187.0.

The rugged two-day, 16½-hour event held at the historic Orlan H. Briant Gymnasium and cafeteria set a regular-season state record for most teams involved (36), featuring 358 participants.

"It was a good tournament," declared the Hall of Famer Cozart. "After competing in so many dual-meet tournaments, I was curious to see how we'd perform in an IBT (individually bracketed tournament) at home.

"This was our eighth (tournament) championship," added Cozart. "This experience will help our nine placers and seven champs get us started in preparing for the state series in a couple of weeks."

For a ninth straight year 2A-5 Springstead finished among Ippolito's top five teams, placing third with 167.5 points, behind seven placers and two individual champions.

Central arrived with a season-high six grapplers and left with 11 points, tying 1A-4 Jacksonville-Providence for 35th place.

The Spring Hill mat men, who were blanked in their gold-medal quest in 2013, pushed five into Saturday night's finals, winning twice.

For the Mariner Boulevard grapplers, senior Jordan Rivera at 145 pounds and junior Michael McDonald at 120 each went 4-0 to reach the top of the podium for the first time at Ippolito.

Three Eagles settled for silver medals including senior Corey Humphrey at 195, and juniors Billy Swift at 170 and Matt Landgraff at 106.

Junior Andrew Smith, who was seeded sixth, posted a team-best 5-1 with two pins to place third at 132 while senior Travis O'Neil placed sixth at 220.

SHS' second-year skipper Sal Basile watched his crew capture 29 of 48 bouts (60 percent), featuring 12 pins.

"Sometimes we've come here and gotten blown out," declared Basile, 2A's Florida Dairy Farmer's reigning Coach of the Year. "But even in the matches we dropped in the finals, we didn't get run out of the gym.

"We're never happy with a loss," detailed Basile. "We're going to beat Brandon, either this year or 6-7 years from now. Right now, we don't have Brandon's depth. We're 2-3 guys away from competing with those guys. Our goal is to beat as many of them individually as we can."

Retracing the late tourney power failures, "Matt (Landgraff) made three mistakes that cost him," noted Basile. "Against Brandon guys, one mistake can tilt a match.

"Billy was never really out of his match" said Basile, referring to Swift's bout against Brandon junior Dontae McGee (44-0). "The kid is unorthodox. Who does a split to get out of a single-leg takedown? He used his hips well a couple times, too. The thing is everything that didn't go our way can be easily fixed."

On Smith, "Andrew wrestled real well except for Friday's match with the North Port kid," analyzed Basile. "The big thing was he didn't lose his focus after he lost. He came all the way back to get third. He beat a good Wiregrass kid, (Max) Quinones, to reach the consolation finals."

Rivera's consistency has been his calling card. Of his career 33 IBTs, he has placed for the 32nd straight time.

The top-seeded Rivera, a three-time state placer and defending state champion, hadn't competed at Ippolito due to illness and a bout of food poisoning the past two winters - or since his freshman campaign when he returned home with a silver medal.

He opened the meet Friday behind his career 78th and 79th pins over Harmony junior Griffen Kisamore (70 seconds) and Manatee junior Alex Ginn (75 seconds).

In Saturday's semifinal, Rivera never trailed Hoover (Ala.) junior Jackson Hall, notching a 5-2 decision.

In the finals, Rivera (29-3) never trailed against 2013 state placer (fourth) and Brandon junior Troy Joyce to win a tactical match, 3-2.

Rivera's 18th IBT victory pushed his win skein since the Kissimee-Osceola Knockout Classic II to 13 in a row.

"I've had a sour taste in my mouth since I last walked in here," explained the 18-year-old Rivera. "Tonight I made up for what happened in my freshman year."

On the final match's significance, "I'll probably see him two more times," replied Rivera, who climbed into a third-place tie on the SHS all-time wins list at 154. "All I want to do is continue improving.

"Each week since the Knockout, it's been getting harder in the room," he said. "Coach says no one is perfect, including me. Everything I've done in practice has hurt, but it'll make me better in the long run."

For McDonald, after back-to-back silver medals at Ippolito, he'll never forget the 17th straight tournament he's placed in.

For the 24th time in 26 career IBTs, McDonald not only placed, but earned his 14th gold medal.

On Friday, the top-seeded McDonald stuck St. Cloud junior Tristan Cuatchon (1:36) and Lithia-Newsome senior Nick Reiser (3:30) for his 81st and 82nd career pins.

In Saturday's semifinal, McDonald (35-0) topped Venice junior Bo Williams, 7-2, before solving 2013 state runner-up and Brandon sophomore Geoff Doback, 5-2.

The win over Doback extended McDonald's win skein dating back to last winter's state championships to 36.

"I'm not going to lie, winning here was one of my little goals," claimed the 17-year-old Eagle captain, who climbed to 119-16 lifetime. "I didn't want to lose here three times."

On the final match's difference, "Hard work doesn't lie," proclaimed McDonald. "This is a pretty intimidating place and it can get to you if you allow it. I feel great at 120 and my mind is straight. I've just got to stay focused until I reach my biggest goal: winning state."

On the team's third-place finish, "We don't like to settle for anything but first," said McDonald. "We hadn't seen Brandon all year. Now that we have; we've got a lot of work to do before the state series."

Landgraff opened the season with a 15-match win skein before Palm Harbor-University senior Tim Sakow dealt him a 5-0 loss at the Knockout II.

The two-time state placer reeled off another 15-match winning streak, including his first three matches at Brandon this weekend.

In the tourney finals, top-seeded Brandon sophomore Frank Bruno (41-0) remained unbeaten, thanks to a 7-2 decision over second-seeded Landgraff.

"He's pretty good, but he's beatable," described Landgraff, who dipped to 116-23 lifetime behind his third Ippolito silver medal. "Losing is unacceptable.

"On Monday I'll go back to work and begin fixing things," insisted Landgraff. "I'll probably see him two more times. Getting a silver medal was a lot harder this time. A lot of the kids I had faced in finals elsewhere were here."

2014 Brandon High's 30th annual Tony Ippolito Memorial Tournament Results

Final Team Results:


1. Brandon (BRA) 2A-7 302.5

2. North Port (NPRT) 3A-8 187.0

3. Springstead (SPG) 2A-5 167.5

4. Bradenton-Manatee (MAN) 3A-8 156.0

5. Hoover, Ala. (HOOV) - 131.5

6. Lakeland-George Jenkins (GJ) 3A-6 124.0

7. Kissimmee-Gateway (GATE) 3A-5 98.0

8. Dade City-Pasco (PAS) 1A-6 96.0

8. Tampa Prep (TP) 1A-10 96.0

10. Venice (VEN) 2A-10 94.0

11. Harmony (HARM) 2A-6 88.0

12. Naples-Barron Collier (BARC) 2A-12 86.5

13. Tampa-Robinson (ROB) 2A-8 81.0

14. Port St. Lucie (PSL) 2A-14 76.0

15. Hillsborough (HILL) 2A-8 70.0

16. Palmetto (PALM) 2A-10 66.5

17. St. Cloud (STC) 3A-5 64.5

18. Lithia-Newsome (NEW) 3A-8 64.0

19. Lakeland (LAK) 3A-6 63.5

20. Lake City-Columbia (COL) 2A-2 63.0

21. Tampa-Alonso (ALON) 3A-7 54.0

22. Tampa-Chamberlain (CHAM) 2A-8 50.0

23. Sarasota Military Academy (SARM) 1A-11 43.5

24. Ruskin-Lennard (LENN) 2A-10 43.0

25. Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch (WGR) 2A-8 39.0

26. Valrico-Bloomingdale (BLOM) 3A-8 31.0

26. Tampa-Wharton (WHAR) 3A-6 31.0

28. Celebration (CELE) 3A-5 30.0

28. Plant City (PLTC) 3A-6 30.0

30. Seffner-Armwood (ARM) 2A-7 27.5

31. Lake Alfred-Lake Region (LKR) 2A-7 21.0

32. Kissimmee-Liberty (LIB) 2A-6 18.0

33. Tampa-Freedom (FREE) 2A-8 16.0

34. Tampa-Plant (PLT) 3A-6 14.0

35. Central (CEN) 1A-6 11.0

35. Jacksonville-Providence (PROV) 1A-4 11.0

2014 Brandon Ippolito Finals

106 - Frank Bruno (BRA) dec. Matt Landgraff (SPG), 7-2.

113 - Kyle Norstrem (BRA) major dec. Caleb Rudisill (MAN), 13-3.

120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) dec. Geoff Doback (BRA), 5-2.

126 - James Flint (BRA) dec. Donoven Hough (TP), 4-3.

132 - Dylan Lucas (BRA) major dec. John Cruz (NPRT), 11-2.

138 - Tarique Taylor (STC) dec. Dacoda Flenard (NPRT), 3-2.

145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Troy Joyce (BRA), 3-2.

152 - Connor Steinfeld (SMA) dec. Zach Wood (GJ) 7-5 (OT).

160 - Dakota Greene (BRA) dec. Jesse Fulk (MAN), 7-4.

170 - Dontae McGee (BRA) dec. Billy Swift (SPG), 10-6.

182 - Luis Peguero (ROB) dec. Sawyer Root (HARM), 4-2 (OT).

195 - Alec Shunnarah (HOOV) dec. Corey Humphrey (SPG), 6-3.

220 - Robert Enmon (BRA) dec. Kendonte Nichols (ROB), 3-1.

285 - Andrew Ivie (PAS) pin Robert Mosley (CHAM), 0:28.

2014 Brandon Ippolito Consolation (3rd/4th) Finals

106 - Anthony Tripke (NPRT) dec. Aaron Mills (TP), 5-2.

113 - Jarred Lanier (WGR) dec. Brenden Eddington (BC), 3-0.

120 - Anthony Artolona (TP) pin David Kirk (LENN), 3-0.

126 - Zac German (HARM) major dec. Anthony Viscomi (PALM), 9-1.

132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) pin Jaquan Loney (GATE), 3:37.

138 - Devan Berrian (BRA) dec. Leo Tarantino (TP), 3-0.

145 - Jackson Hall (HOOV) dec. CJ Trammell (VEN), 4-3.

152 - Dakoda Dossey (MAN) dec. Tristan Roy (BC), 9-6.

160 - David Towers (NRPT) pin Damon Black (LAK), 3:00.

170 - Josh Pollard (NRPT) pin Johnny Baldwin (MAN), 1:00.

182 - David Prindiville (GJ) dec. Roman Morales (NRPT), 7-3.

195 - Marcus Kirkland (NRPT) dec. Bailey Shepherd (BRA), 3-2.

220 - Ismael Deltoro (GATE) dec. Bret Winters (HOOV), 5-2.

285 - Brandon Way (PSL) pin Will Wan (GJ), 1:37.

Outstanding Lightweight Wrestler - James Flint (Brandon).

Outstanding Heavyweight Wrestler - Luis Peguero (Robinson).

2014 Springstead Individual Results


106 Landgraff, Matt 3 1 1 2nd

120 McDonald, Michael 4 0 2 1st

126 D'Alessandro, Quentin 2 2 1 -

132 Smith, Andrew 5 1 2 3rd

138 Williams, Travis 0 2 0 -

145 Rivera, Jordan 4 0 2 1st

152 Holdway, Robert 2 2 2 -

160 Buonanno, Vincent 1 2 0 -

170 Swift, Billy 3 1 0 2nd

182 Burzumato, Ryan 0 2 0 -

195 Humphrey, Corey 3 1 1 2nd

220 O'Neil, Travis 2 3 1 6th

285 Erwin, Daniel 0 2 0 -

TOTALS (13) 29 19 12 -

2014 Central Individual Results


106 Brackrog, Selena 0 2 0 -

113 Mestres, Austin 0 2 0 -

126 Brown, Devin 0 2 0 -

132 Morales, Steven 0 2 0 -

170 Templar, John 3 2 0 -

182 Brown, Brandon 2 2 0 -

TOTALS (6) 5 12 0 -

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