BRANDON - Before a single whistle sounded, Springstead's postseason chances suffered a severe casualty Friday morning when a two-time state placer, junior Matt Landgraff, failed to make weight in the Class 2A, Region II Meet at Brandon.
Landgraff hadn't had trouble making the required 106-pound limit during the regular season.
Given a two-pound allowance like everyone else, the third-year varsity wrestler - and one of the most consistent members of the Eagles' mat team - weighed in at 108.1. He was over by 1/10 of a pound.
As a consequence he forfeited two matches and is out for the remainder of the state series.
Not having Landgraff in the SHS lineup for the first time in three years was the precursor, but more importantly set tone for the Spring Hill mat men in the "Region of Doom."
Complicating matters was the Eagles' first match of the day.
First-year junior Quentin Alessandro, a district champion at 126 pounds, was thrashing his first-round opponent, Auburndale frosh Grant Smith, 9-0 early in the second period.
But Smith rolled D'Alessandro to his back and stuck him in 2:47.
That's how the two-day, 31-team, 16½-hour IBT (individual bracketed tournament) meet began at the Orlan H. Briant Gymnasium.
BHS, which hasn't dropped a regional since 1989, crushed the other 30 teams, capturing an amazing 51-of-55 individual bouts (meet-high 93 percent), behind a meet-best 24 pins.
The host Eagles, in Coach Russ Cozart's 34th season, walked in with 13 grapplers.
The hosts departed with a tourney-high 13 advancing to the 50th FHSAA Finals set for Feb. 14-15 at The Lakeland Center.
Brandon crowned 10 of its meet-high 11 finalists, and added two third-place finishers totaling 300 points compared to runner-up Tampa-Jesuit (164.5) and third-place Springstead (145.0).
"'The Doom' lived up to its billing," admitted Coach Cozart. "We had quality kids in so many quality matches and we had some great finals matches. We had a little of everything - some pins, blowouts and nail-biters."
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By comparison, Springstead captured 26-of-43 bouts (60 percent), featuring 17 pins.
Though the Mariner Boulevard mat men lost half of their 12-member team in the Hillsborough County event, they'll enter states with a Hernando County-high six grapplers.
Advancing to next weekend will be seniors Corey Humphrey at 195, Vincent Buonanno at 160 and Jordan Rivera at 145, along with juniors Michael McDonald at 120, Andrew Smith at 132 and Billy Swift at 170.
Of the Eagles' five finalists, only McDonald (40-0, 30 pins this winter) garnered gold behind three pins in three bouts.
McDonald opened the meet with a bye before folding Tampa-Chamberlain junior Christian Morales (1:55), Harmony senior Alex Muralles (1:54) and Brandon freshman Ty Lucas (2:57).
With the trio of victories, McDonald not only became the 16th Eagle to earn a second regional crown, but became the program's 20th three-time state qualifier.
"Winning this again here was a huge goal," pointed out the 17-year-old McDonald, who stretched his win skein to 41 dating back to last winter's state finals. "I just believe in myself 100 percent. My coaches and parents have been so encouraging. Right now, I feel like I can do anything."
On solving the 43-3 Lucas, "On his second takedown try, I was sure he was taking me down," explained McDonald. "But (former teammate) Nick Soto taught me some scrambles and opponents have had troubles scoring."
The Eagle captain was disappointed with the team's third-place finish.
"Like I've said before, there's no other option but winning," said McDonald, who'll enter states at 124-16 lifetime with 87 pins, "We're going to do the best we can team-wise next week."
For a second straight season, Smith will qualify for states.
Smith (40-7, 28 pins) opened the meet by planting his first two foes - Kissimmee-Liberty junior Shaun Seepersad (3:06) and Jesuit frosh Danny Boon (1:59).
In the semifinals, Smith twisted Auburndale sophomore Adam Pyle into a 15-0 technical fall. That win, his 20th in 21 matches, pushed Smith to states.
"This one was a pretty big win, but everything next week will be bigger," described the 16-year-old Smith. "The key for me is putting everything together."
In the finals, Brandon junior Dylan Lucas (63-0) dominated Smith behind an 11-2 major decision.
For three matches, Rivera looked well on his way to his third straight regional crown.
The three-time state placer and defending state champion extended his winning skein to 18 in a row since the Knockout Classic II at Kissimmee-Osceola featuring three pins.
Rivera stuck Jesuit junior Conner Muller (1:42), Lake Region senior Justin Westberry (1:10) and Tampa-Robinson senior Kionte Crocker (4:24) for his 82nd, 83rd and 84th career pins.
That set up a rematch against 2013 state placer and Brandon junior Troy Joyce. Rivera had topped Joyce in the finals of Brandon's Ippolito Tournament, 3-2.
Though Rivera garnered the match's only takedown, two one-point escapes by Joyce and an 11th-hour penalty point with less than 30 seconds left against Rivera for stalling teetered the tactical match in favor of Joyce, 3-2.
Rivera (159-23 lifetime) enters Polk County as one of five Eagles to reach states a school- and county-record four times.
The surprise of the tournament was the first-year and unranked Buonanno.
On Friday, Buonanno pinned Auburndale junior David Etienne (3:43) before posting a 5-3 decision over Hillsborough sophomore Connor Knauer.
In Saturday's semifinals, Buonanno earned his first trip to states by pinning Winter Haven's Emilio Cruz (3:54).
It didn't matter in the finals that Buonanno (27-14) was smashed by Brandon junior Dakota Greene (65-1) via a 16-1 technical fall; he had accomplished his goal of reaching states.
"The semifinal win was the biggest match I've had this year," insisted the 17-year-old Buonanno. "My mindset coming in was simple. I was told to weather the storm early."
On the enormity of the moment, "This is huge," said Buonanno. "A first-year guy going to states from this region; who'd have thought it was possible? I have to thank my teammates and my coaches who've stuck with me and supported me the entire time, like Coach Sal (Basile) and Coach (Mike) LaRocca."
Like Smith, Humphrey earned his second straight trip to states.
Humphrey opened the meet with back-to-back pin falls over Tampa-King senior Antonio Staten (3:11) and New Smyrna Beach junior Kalani Armitage (3:07).
In Saturday's semifinals, Humphrey outlasted Brandon frosh Bailey Sheperd (50-6) in overtime, 3-2.
Just like Buonanno, Humphrey's efforts weren't soured after losing in the tourney finals under the dome light to Jesuit freshman Nick Mosco (28-3), 7-1.
Despite qualifying for states, Humphrey (personal-best 37-7) was not satisfied.
"The semifinal was a tough match, but it's not the best match I've ever wrestled," said the 17-year-old. "I came in with a lot of confidence."
On what lies ahead, "Simply going to states isn't a factor," replied Humphrey. "I'll start focusing for that meet on Monday."
SHS' other placer, Swift, went 4-1 to finish third.
On Friday, the 2013 state placer pinned Land O' Lakes senior Cedric Lowe (2:35) before tangling Winter Haven junior Luke Robertson into a 15-0 technical fall.
In Saturday's semifinals, Brandon junior Dontae McGee (54-0) claimed a 7-2 decision. It marked the second loss in two meetings for Swift against the athletic McGee.
Swift maintained his composure in the loser's bracket wrapping up Lake Nona senior Andres Sosa into an 8-0 major decision followed by smothering Tampa-Blake senior Charles Watts into an 11-2 major decision.
"I'm not OK with third place," declared the 17-year-old Swift. "There's nothing acceptable below first. On Monday I start correcting some little things. I'm like everybody else; there are things that have to get better."
"I did do what I set out to do and that was return to states, but I'm expected to go to states," he added. "I've got to a do a better job in finishing my takedowns. The kid in the semis was a good wrestler, but he's human, too; he's not impossible to beat - that's the goal next week."
Final 2A-II Wrestling Tournament Results:
PL SCHOOL PTS.
1. Brandon (BRA) 300.0
2. Tampa-Jesuit (TJ) 164.5
3. Springstead (SPG) 145.0
4. Lakeland-Lake Gibson (LKG) 118.0
5. New Smyrna Beach (NSB) 69.0
6. Harmony (HAR) 67.0
7. Tampa-Robinson (ROB) 64.5
8. Auburndale (AUB) 63.0
9. Winter Haven (WH) 53.5
10. Orlando-Lake Nona (LKN) 45.0
11. Inverness-Citrus (CIT) 44.0
11. Tampa-King (KING) 44.0
13. Tampa-Chamberlain (CHAM) 43.0
13. Tampa-Gaither (GAIT) 43.0
15. Hillsborough (HILL) 42.0
16. Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch (WGR) 32.0
17. Land O'Lakes (LOL) 27.0
18. Ocala-Lake Weir (LWR) 19.5
19. Kissimmee-Liberty (LIB) 19.0
20. Seffner-Armwood (ARM) 18.0
20. Tampa-Blake (BLAK) 18.0
22. Belleview (BELL) 17.0
22. Tampa-Jefferson (JEFF) 17.0
24. Deltona-Pine Ridge (PINR) 15.0
25. Daytona Beach-Seabreeze (SEAB) 14.0
26. Ocala-Vanguard (OV) 12.0
27. Eagle Lake-Lake Region (LKR) 11.0
28. Tampa-Freedom (FREE) 10.0
29. Lecanto (LEC) 9.5
30. Lakeland-Kathleen (KATH) 3.0
31. Land O'Lakes-Sunlake (SNL) 0.0
2A-II State Qualifiers (56)
RK NAME NO.
1. Brandon 13
2. Tampa-Jesuit 9
3. Springstead 6
5. Lakeland-Lake Gibson 5
6. Tampa-Robinson 3
7. Auburndale 2
7. Tampa-King 2
7. New Smyrna Beach 2
7. Inverness-Citrus 2
7. Winter Haven 2
7. Tampa-Chamberlain 2
13. Deltona-Pine Ridge 1
13. Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch 1
13. Harmony 1
13. Tampa-Blake 1
13. Land O' Lakes 1
13. Tampa-Gaither 1
13. Seffner-Armwood 1
13. Ocala-Lake Weir 1
106 - Frankie Bruno (BRA) tech. fall Jarrett Roop (TJ), 22-6.
113 - Kyle Norstrem (BRA) pin Jarred Lanier (WGR), 1:55.
120 - Michael McDonald (SPG) pin Ty Lucas (BRA), 2:57.
126 - James Flint (BRA) dec. Sa'derrian Perry (LKG), 6-2.
132 - Dylan Lucas (BRA) major dec. Andrew Smith (SPG), 11-2.
138 - Devan Berrian (BRA) dec. Adam Lewis (TJ), 6-4 (OT).
145 - Troy Joyce (BRA) dec. Jordan Rivera (SPG), 3-2.
152 - Jacob Ewles (WH) dec. Brian Buser (TJ), 9-8.
160 - Dakota Greene (BRA) tech. fall Vincent Buonanno (SPG), 16-1.
170 - Dontae McGee (BRA) dec. Casey Bearden (CIT), 8-1.
182 - Luis Peguero (ROB) dec. Sawyer Root (HARM), 3-1.
195 - Nick Mosco (TJ) dec. Corey Humphrey (SPG), 7-1.
220 - Robert Enmon (BRA) dec. David Rudd (LKG), 2-1 (OT)
285 - Austin Underwood (TJ) pin Dylan Martin (NSB), 2:53.
106 - Jonathan Quinones (LKG) dec. Kyre Kelly (ARM), 9-3.
113 - Caleb Smith (LKG) pin Anthony Zucco (TJ), 0:28.
120 - Nick Peschek (GAIT) major dec. Luis Casado (LOL), 15-4.
126 - Marcus Mosley (KING) dec. R.C. Consuegra (TJ), 8-2.
132 - Jared Tarvin (LKG) tech. fall Jonathan Crunkilton (NSB), 20-4.
138 - Devin Glenn (AUB) pin Corey Tisdal (LKW), 3:24.
145 - Chris Moore (KING) major dec. Kionte Crocker (ROB), 11-3.
152 - Tommy Fretwell (BRA) dec. Triston Howe (CHAM), 4-1.
160 - Brandon Taylor (CIT) dec. Marc Iruato (TJ), 5-2.
170 - Billy Swift (SPG) major dec. Charles Watts (BLAK), 11-2.
182 - Joe Marcano (BRA) won by injury default over John Mooney (TJ).
195 - Bailey Sheperd (BRA) dec. Cole Mueller (WH), 7-2.
220 - Kendonte Nichols (ROB) dec. Carlos Barbosa (PR), 2-1.
285 - Robert Mosley (CHAM) pin Colton Rausch (AUB), 4:46.
Springstead Individual Results:
WGT NAME W L PINS PL
106 Landgraff, Matt 0 2 0 -
120 McDonald, Michael 3 0 3 1st
126 D'Alessandro, Quentin 0 2 0 -
132 Smith, Andrew 3 1 3 2nd
138 Williams, Travis 1 2 0 -
145 Rivera, Jordan 3 1 3 2nd
152 Holdway, Robert 3 2 1 -
160 Buonanno, Vincent 3 1 1 2nd
170 Swift, Billy 4 1 1 3rd
195 Humphrey, Corey 3 1 2 2nd
220 Wiggins, Shane 2 2 2 -
285 O'Neil, Travis 1 2 1 -
TOTALS (12) 26 17 17 -6-