NEW PORT RICHEY — Coming into the 2013-14 wrestling season, Pasco High figured to be in the conversation for best in-county program.
More than a month into the season, Mark DeAugstino’s Pirates have surpassed those expectations and are dominating their early schedule. Last weekend at the Gulf Holiday Duals, Pasco took third place in the 20-team tournament. After going 4-0 in pool play Friday, the Pirates rolled pasted Citrus, Land O’ Lakes, Sunlake and Mitchell to set up a showdown in the semifinals against Green Cove Springs Clay.
Pasco fell 54-21 to Clay, which was the eventual champion. In the consolation round, the Pirates upended Dunedin 41-33 to finish third. DeAugustino singled out 106-pound sophomore Lukas Twardowsky as one of the Pirates that stepped up. Twardowsky went undefeated on the weekend, which included a defeat of Dunedin’s state-ranked Stephen Nicholls in the third-place match. Skyler White and TJ Maple were also undefeated on the weekend for the Pirates.
Mitchell muscles through for fifth place: The Mustangs continued their winning ways, finishing fifth at the Gulf tournament. Competing without 160-pound standout Storm Schenk, who is nursing a hand injury, Mitchell went 6-2 on the weekend. The Mustangs also had two other varsity wrestlers sidelined. Coach Dan Gigantelli was proud of the team effort to make up for the missing wrestlers.
“I was very happy with the performance,” Gigantelli said. “Individually, Aaron Youpa (152) always does a great job for us, but we need needed some more back points and pins from him to make up for the other guys being out. Aaron really came through for us.”
Injury report: There were a couple of injuries to highly-ranked wrestlers that left teams at less than full strength.
At 182 pounds, Fivay’s Nico Lightfoot was nursing a shoulder injury that wasn’t thought to be serious, but coach Matt Bullwinkel held him out for precautionary reasons.
Also at 182 pounds, the Class 1A No. 1 state-ranked wrestler, Gulf’s Jarred Kruse, was nursing a knee injury and was upended twice on the weekend. He was pinned by No. 3 state-ranked Casey Bearded of Citrus and was upset by Wesley Chapel’s Nathan Love by an 8-7 score.
Correspondent Steve Campbell can be reached at SteveCampbell@ionmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @SCPascoTrib.