For the third consecutive year, some of the area's finest teams will converge on River Ridge, seeking a stout midseason challenge.
A total of 14 schools are scheduled to participate in the Disparti Law Group (DLG) Invitational hosted by the Royal Knights today. Lifting is set to begin at 11 a.m.
"I'm expecting a good, competitive meet," River Ridge head coach Mike DeGennaro said. "I'm excited about the teams that are going to be there.
"I wanted to try to get good competition before Christmas break, so we're getting used to that a little bit. I think this will be our best tournament so far."
Trophies will go to the top two teams. Individually, the top three finishers in each weight class will receive medals; fourth through sixth will get ribbons.
From Hernando County, Nature Coast, Springstead and Weeki Wachee are among the field, joining Anclote, Belleview, Gulf, Hudson, Lecanto, Leesburg, Mitchell, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Sunlake and Zephyrhills.
All these teams, with the exception of Belleview and Leesburg, are among the 24 listed in District 5. Citrus is the most notable of the district squads not scheduled to attend.
"All the veteran teams from our district are going to be there," Springstead head coach Mike Garofano said. "It's a good indicator of where the girls are going to finish. If you have any aspirations to go to states, you need to finish in the top three in this meet.
"It's a pretty good measuring stick of where the girls are and what the other schools have."
The Lady Eagles have placed second to the Royal Knights each of the previous two incarnations of this event.
But this isn't supposed to be quite the same Springstead squad as in years past.
"As far as the team is concerned, we're really young so I expect us to be somewhere in the middle of the pack," Garofano said. "I hope for a good showing by our 'Big 4.'"
That would be Ty'Rhonza Harris, Ashleigh Ruby, Madeline Genuardi and Andrea Purvis.
Purvis, a senior, is the Lady Eagles' lone returning champion from Disparti, having posted a 155-140—295 to take first at 199 a year ago.
Thus far she has maxed out at 300 pounds twice to pace the team at unlimited. She could compete in either weight class for today's meet.
The junior Harris has been impressive this season, with a team-best 120-110—230 at 119. Ruby is the county leader at 154, with a 150-135—285, and was sixth at Disparti in 2011 (125-110—235).
Genuardi leads Springstead at 169 (125-120—245), but has been battling an illness and figures to be less than 100 percent.
Aside from that quartet, the Lady Eagles are more about gaining experience than notching wins these days.
"We're making strides," Garofano said. "We've got some girls working really hard. The veterans are working hard.
"I'm excited to see the future we have. A lot of these girls are returning after this year. I'm excited to see where they're going in the next two years."
Garofano sees River Ridge and Sunlake as the two favorites. DeGennaro also threw Leesburg and Hudson into that mix. Both coaches mentioned the Lady Sharks, as well.
"I've heard good things about Nature Coast," DeGennaro said. "And you can never count Garofano out. Just when you think they're down, he moves some people around, does some things and ends up in the thick of things."
The Lady Sharks tied for fifth at last season's Disparti Invite.
"I definitely think we've improved since last year and the girls are really excited," Nature Coast head coach Sharon Elliott said. "We're hoping to improve on last year."
Their lone champion a year ago, Kiana Espinal at 169, remains in the fold. She won that weight class with a 140-150—290.
This season, the senior returning state qualifier is the county's strongest at 183 (140-160—300).
Ashley and Alicia Gentz have provided a formidable duo in the lighter weights, with the former pacing the county at 110 (100-105—205) and the latter at 119 (100-135—235).
Jasmyn Davila has the county's highest total at 129 (115-120—235), as does teammate Dana Mackiewicz at 199 (120-140—260). Mackiewicz placed third at Disparti last year at 183 (115-150—265).
Elliott also listed Brianna Horn as a possible placer today – she came in fourth at 110 in 2011 with a 95-95—190. The coach additionally pointed to Annelise Rentas, Rachel Crayton, Kayla Harvey and Brittney Traudt.
Though assistant coach Rudy Story pushes team score, Elliott said she has stressed individual performance to her lifters.
"For all the girls, it gives them an idea of who the competition is for districts and to keep working," Elliott said. "It's really a motivator, I think."
Weeki Wachee finished 13th at Disparti last year with no placers.
Amber Lake has been impressive at unlimited to this point in the season, with a county high of 180-160—340.
"My unlimited (Lake) is someone who I put a great deal of confidence in this season," Weeki Wachee head coach Mike Fye said. "I'm hoping first or second place is what she should take. I'm hoping this pushes her into districts to qualify for states this year."
Bailey Brannan, Calleigh Brannan and Hannah Dennis also have a shot at earning some team points today.
"I have a couple of kids that I do have some high expectations for," Fye said. "I have a 90 percent new team again this year. So this will be good for them to get exposure, see more kids. We haven't had a meet this big."