One of the surprise high school wrestling teams this season is Land O’ Lakes.
With the departure of coach Patrick Corcoran, who moved to California, and the absence of their best wrestler, Dominic Telesco, the Gators were a preseason afterthought in Pasco County. Eddie Marley took over at Land O’ Lakes and with the addition of some new wrestlers and some improvements to the returning ones, the Gators are in the Sunshine Athletic Conference title conversation.
Telesco, at 106 pounds, went 40-8 last season and won two matches at the FHSAA state tournament. The absence of him is a mystery to the new coach.
“For whatever reason, Dominic decided not to wrestle this season,” Marley said. “I can’t worry about it. I just have to worry about the kids who are wrestling.”
The Gators have been led by the brother combination of Cedrick and Darryus Lowe. Cedrick, a senior who wrestles at 170 pounds, is 31-8 this season and went 9-1 last weekend at the Bill Combs Duals at Brooksville Nature Coast. Darryus, only a sophomore, struggled as a first-year wrestler last season, only winning eight matches. However, this season has been a coming out party for the 220-pound sophomore now that he’s 33-9 and one of the frontrunners at the 220-pound conference title.
Two newcomers contributing are 120-pound freshman Luis Casado, who is 28-13, and 132-pound Carlos Osorno, who is 32-12.
SAC tourney looks to be competitive: The SAC wresting tournament, which is Jan. 25 at Fivay High, features the 13 county teams and usually one weight class with four to five wrestlers capable of taking first place. This season, that weight class is 182 pounds.
Fivay’s Nicco Lightfoot and Gulf’s Jarred Kruse, who both finished fourth at the state tournament last season, are the frontrunners. Lightfoot has been a model of consistency all year, losing only once to Lakeland Jenkins’ David Prindiville. Kruse had a rough beginning as he battled a knee injury, but is rounding into shape. He went 5-0 last weekend at the Pasco Tough Team Duals.
Two other wrestlers to keep an eye on are Wesley Chapel’s Nathan Love and River Ridge’s Max Reynolds.
Finishing strong: The final weekend of the regular season features county teams in dual tournaments.
Anclote will host the Anclote Challenge on Saturday and it will feature 12 teams, including Gulf, Hudson and Ridgewood. Also on Saturday, Fivay, River Ridge, and Mitchell will be at Palm Harbor University High for the Logan Kushner Duals.
Correspondent Steve Campbell can be reached at SteveCampbell@ionmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @SCPascoTrib.