LIVE OAK - Springstead's second-year mat mentor Sal Basile will never forget his team's 13th tournament title in two seasons Saturday night at soggy Suwannee County.
The two-day, 16-team Billy Saylor Invitational - honoring the former three-time Bulldog state champion who died at 19 due to a heart attack at Campbell University - held plenty of surprises.
The consolation finals and finals were delayed a half hour due to nearby tornado activity.
While the rain showers pounded away, Class 2A, District 2's Tallahassee-Lincoln Trojans departed with a meet-best 14 placers (top six or better) and yet didn't win the team title.
In a rarity, three-time defending 2A state champion Springstead and three-time defending 1A state runner-up Green Cove Springs-Clay tied for the top team honors with 156.0 points, while the Trojans settled for third (148.0).
Both the Eagles and Clay Blue Devils each notched 11 placers.
Though SHS reeled off a perfect 11-0 run during the consolation finals and finals, and departed with a meet-high six champions in six finals bouts - there was no tiebreaker in place to unlock the draw.
"Third is fine for us," noted the 19th-year Lincoln skipper Mike Crowder. "We came in winners of four straight tournaments and there was a certain amount of complacency settling in. Losing to two powerful teams will give us a boost heading into the state series. I'm never mad when a loss comes at a great time."
Watching his team celebrate with the championship trophy, "This is why we come and get tough matches," pointed out Clay's 21st-year coach Jim Reape. "We got to see Springstead and have several great matches in our last real grind before the state series. We brought 12 and had 11 medalists, I can't complain."
"The tourney was exactly what I had hoped for," insisted Coach Basile. "The quantity of matches was important. Seeing different kids and different teams was welcome. The overall quality wasn't like Osceola (Knockout II) or even at Ippolito (at Brandon), but I was real happy with how we performed."
To that end, SHS captured a season-high 58-of-78 bouts (season-best 74.3 percent), featuring a tourney-high 42 pins.
The lack of a tournament tiebreaker did not deter from the victory.
"After some tournaments, I'm not real satisfied," described the reigning Florida Dairy Farmer's 2A Coach of the Year Basile. "To me, a trophy is a trophy; titles are nice. I was very happy with how we performed and in what direction we're headed. I think we're just starting to roll."
Of the 14 Spring Hill mat men, 11 returned home as Suwannee placers highlighted by six top-of-the-podium performances by seniors Jordan Rivera at 145 pounds, and Corey Humphrey at 220, and juniors Matt Landgraff at 106, Michael McDonald at 120, Andrew Smith at 132 and Billy Swift at 170.
Third-place finishers featured senior Travis O'Neil at 285 and Quentin D'Alessandro at 126.
Fifth-placers included: frosh Richie Rivera at 113, sophomore Ryan Burzumato at 182 and senior Vincent Buonanno at 170.
The top-seeded Jordan Rivera went 5-0 with three pins to stretch his win skein to nine in a row since Osceola.
In the tourney highlight, Rivera (25-3 this season) edged 2013 state placer and Clay senior Adam Breindel in the finals, 3-2.
"That last kid was a good wrestler," noted the 18-year-old Rivera, the team's three-time state placer and defending state champion. "I thought I had a good week of practice coming in. I thought the key was to continue pushing myself past my comfort level.
"I want to be wrestling at 110 percent by states," added Rivera, who enters next weekend's Ippolito Tourney at 150-22 lifetime. "The goal from here on out is to get better at something every week."
On SHS' tourney win, "Two of our 'Big Dogs' - Andrew (Smith) and Billy (Swift) - showed up this week," commented Rivera. "That's the Andrew Smith we all expect to win a state title.
Unlike Jordan, who has placed in five IBTs (individually bracketed tourneys) this season, Humphrey placed for the sixth time - and won for the first time since the Wildcat Invite at Ocala-Forest.
Humphrey reached a personal milestone garnering seven wins in seven bouts, featuring three pins.
After losing in back-to-back finals' bouts at Osceola and the Springstead Invite, Humphrey handed Lincoln junior and 2013 state qualifier Jason Osagie his first loss of the season, 4-2.
"It was a good weekend for me and the team," detailed the 17-year-old Humphrey. "We got some different looks this weekend; it's something we needed. I didn't think the last guy was that good. I've wrestled tougher guys this year."
On whether Humphrey (29-5, 18 pins) is where he wants to be on the eve of the rugged Ippolito, "I don't think I'm where I need to be for (the state series) February."
For the first time in his three-year prep career, the top-seeded Landgraff stuck five opponents in five bouts, including Clay frosh Andrew Klopman in the finals at 1:35.
With the Suwannee sweep, Landgraff (31-1 this season, 113-22 lifetime) enters Brandon riding a 12-match streak since the Knockout semifinal loss to Palm Harbor University senior Tim Sakow, 5-0.
"Getting five pins in five matches basically means I came out and wrestled like I wanted and dominated," pointed out the 16-year-old Landgraff. "It seems every week, Mikey (McDonald) and I are mirroring each other.
"Overall, it was a good weekend and I did what I was supposed to do," added Landgraff. "But I feel like you haven't seen my best yet. I was so glad that in my finals match that the kid came out wanting to wrestle; some of the guys I've wrestled in the finals have just shut down."
Like many of his teammates, McDonald etched a personal milestone in Suwannee County.
The top-seeded McDonald returned to Hernando County with a personal-best six pins in six bouts, highlighted by a 90-second pin in the finals over Orange Park-Ridgeview sophomore Jeremiah Watson.
The Eagle captain enters next week's Hillsborough County meet attempting to better his 2013 silver medal at Ippolito.
To that end, momentum is definitely on McDonald's side riding a 32-match win skein. He's 115-16 lifetime entering Brandon's historic gym.
"It's kind of cool getting six pins in six matches," detailed the 17-year-old McDonald. "I've never pinned my way through a tournament before.
"I felt great physically and mentally I'm in a good place," he added. "Every week Coach Sal puts us through the wringer - that's only going to make us better when it counts the most."
The key to the Eagles' win, according to McDonald, was the reemergence of Smith and Swift.
"Andrew and Billy really stepped up after the last two weekends," stressed McDonald. "And you've got to give credit to Quentin (D'Alessandro). He only lost one match here; he could be a difference-maker in districts and regionals."
Like many of the Eagles, Smith torched his bracket with a possible school record: seven pins in seven bouts.
Smith (29-5) hushed the pro-Clay supporters by folding talented Blue Devil senior and 2013 state qualifier Dylan Martin in 96 seconds in the finals.
In an up-and-down campaign, Saturday night's win was Smith's third gold medal in five IBTs.
"I felt alright all weekend," declared the 16-year-old Smith. "Overall, I feel like I'm improving. I've been concentrating on my conditioning."
On posting a personal-best seven pins, "It's OK. I'll feel better when I'm at states," said Smith.
After not placing at home at the Springstead Invitational last weekend, Swift flipped the switch.
Swift registered a career-high six wins in six bouts, featuring three pins.
In the finals, Swift (27-5) mauled Suwannee junior Sasha Key via a 12-4 major decision for his third IBT gold medal of the season.
"I needed this to happen," emphasized the 17-year-old Swift. "We didn't do well last week, especially me. Even though I wrestled stupid last week, I should have still placed.
"I needed to fix some things in practice and I felt like I did," he added. "The (team wrestling) room has been the reason. It's been boiling over the last couple of weeks. What I like? Everyone is getting on the same page. Some of the guys are opening up their eyes to that."
2014 Billy Saylor Invitational Wrestling Tournament
at Live Oak-Suwannee
Final Team Standings:
* NOTE - No tiebreaker was utilized. None was in place.
PL TEAM CLASS PTS.
1. Springstead (SPG) 2A-5 156.0*
1. Green Cove Springs-Clay (CLAY) 1A-5 156.0*
3. Tallahassee-Lincoln (LIN) 2A-2 148.0
4. Fort Walton Beach-Choctawhatchee (CHOC) 2A-1 74.0
5. Live Oak-Suwannee (SUW) 1A-2 68.0
6. Lake City-Columbia (COL) 2A-2 59.0
7. Orange Park-Ridgeview (RDV) 2A-3 52.0
8. Tallahassee-Godby (GOD) 1A-2 30.0
9. Panama City-Bozeman (BOZE) 1A-1 28.0
10. Jacksonville-Raines (RAIN) 1A-3 22.0
10. Tallahassee-Florida High (FLA) 1A-2 22.0
12. Santa Rosa Beach-South Walton (SWAL) 1A-1 20.0
13. Ocala-Vanguard (OV) 2A-5 12.0
14. St. Augustine-Florida School for Deaf & Blind (FDB) 1A-4 10.0
15. Tallahassee-Leon (LEON) 2A-2 8.0
16. Wewahitchka (WEWA) 1A-1 2.0
Billy Saylor Invitational Finals Results
106 - Matt Landgraff (SPG) pin Andrew Klopman (CLAY), 1:25.
113 - Dale Browning (CLAY) pin Jacob Geiger (LINC), 1:33.
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) pin Jeremiah Watson (RDV), 1:30.
126 - Julian Summa (CLAY) dec. Trevor Belden (RDV), 5-1.
132 - Andrew Smith (SPG) pin Dylan Martin (CLAY), 1:36.
138 - Johnathon Kenney (BOZE) pin Dustin Regar (COL), 1:59.
145 - Jordan Rivera (SPG) dec. Adam Breindel (CLAY), 3-2.
152 - Tristan Sommer (LINC) dec. Shawn Brown (SUW), 3-2.
160 - Jaycie Rudd (LINC) dec. Caleb Lyod (CLAY), 5-3.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) major dec. Sasha Key (SUW), 12-4.
182 - Jermaine Oliver (RAIN) pin Brandon Johnson (LINC), 3:29.
195 - Christopher Nash (CHOC) pin Lucas Bradley (COL), 4:23.
220 - Corey Humphrey (SPG) dec. Jason Osagie (LINC), 4-2.
285 - Mashawn Knight (GOD) dec. David DuBois (CHOC), 8-3.
Billy Saylor Invitational Consolation Finals (3rd/4th) Results
106 - Cole Horton (COL) pin Sean Hendley (LINC), 2:33.
113 - Bryan Metcalf (FLA) pin Delton Griffin (BOZE), 3:49.
120 - Austin Wild (LINC) dec. Alex Cao (SWAL), 21-16.
126 - Quentin D'Alessandro (SPG) tech. fall Seth Snow (FDB), 17-1.
132 - Joseph Epstein (RDV) tech. fall David Edmunds (LINC), 16-0.
138 - Billy Jenkins (SUW) dec. Carlos Evelo (LINC), 8-3.
145 - Cody Pickren (SWAL) major dec. Brandon Hucko (SUW), 16-5.
152 - Imier Almanzar (CLAY) dec. Jacob McGuire (COL), 7-2.
160 - Tyler Foster (SUW) pin Williams Jacobs (OV), 3:10.
170 - Shamar Johnson (CHOC) pin Jerrin Gilmore (LINC), 4:30.
182 - Tristain Sichmeller (CLAY) pin Avery Sisson (CHOC), 1:13.
195 - Kaleb Collins (CLAY) dec. Robert Norton (LINC), 6-1.
220 - Jonathan Whiting (CLAY) pin Dylan Regar (COL), 3:37.
285 - Travis O'Neil (SPG) dec. Gabe Beyer (LEON), 5-4.
Billy Saylor Invitational Consolation Finals (5th/6th) Results
106 - Nelson Elder (CHOC) major dec. James Boyd (GOD), 12-3.
113 - Richie Rivera (SPG) tech. fall Kenneth Foster (SUW), 18-1.
120 - Max Harris (FLA) tech. fall Kenneth Rice (FDB), 15-0.
126 - Aaron Rodriguez (CHOC) dec. Casey Owens (LINC), 2-1.
132 - Johan Hooton (CHOC) pin Jemel Fanfan (FLA), 2:38.
138 - Mark Coaxum (RDV) dec. Austin Salmi (CHOC), 3-1.
145 - Andrew Thaxton (GOD) dec. Justin Lopeman (LINC), 12-8.
152 - Drew Hostetter (FLA) dec. Anthony Detorres (OV), 7-2.
160 - Vincent Buonanno (SPG) pin Jeremiah Prince (RAIN), 1:23.
170 - Trevor Larson (CLAY) dec. Devontae Gibson (RDV), 4-2.
182 - Demitres Strong (GOD) pin Cameron Life (OV), 1:07.
195 - Ryan Burzumato (SPG) pin Robert Smith (RDV), 1:48.
220 - Mycah Sutton (CHOC) pin Roy Shirah (WEWA), 1:16.
285 - Damian Loggins (LINC) dec. Rossie Williams (SUW), 9-2.
Billy Saylor Invitational Awards:
Best Finals Match - Shawn Brown (SUW) vs. Tristan Sommer (LINC) at 152.
Outstanding Wrestler Lightweights - Dale Browning (CLAY).
Outstanding Wrestler Heavyweights - Tristan Sommer (SUW).
Springstead Individual Results
WGT NAME W L PINS PL
106 Landgraff, Matt 5 0 5 1st
113 Rivera, Richie 3 2 3 5th
120 McDonald, Michael 6 0 6 1st
126 D'Alessandro, Quentin 5 1 4 3rd
132 Smith. Andrew 7 0 7 1st
138 Williams, Travis 1 4 0 -
145 Rivera, Jordan 5 0 3 1st
152 Holdway, Robert 2 3 1 -
160 Buonanno, Vincent 4 1 3 5th
170 Swift, Billy 6 0 3 1st
182 Lindsey, Matt 0 4 0 -
195 Burzumato, Ryan 3 4 2 5th
220 Humphrey, Corey 7 0 4 1st
285 O'Neil, Travis 4 1 1 3rd
TOTALS (14) 58 20 42 -