SPRING HILL — Springstead’s 33-year streak of never dropping a dual meet at home to Jesuit came precariously close to ending Saturday.
The seventh and final score change of the match made the difference, 36-33 Eagles.
The Eagles, winners of three Class 2A state titles in a row, hadn’t faced last winter’s sixth-place team in the Class 2A finals in a dual since Jan. 5, 2001, at the Berkeley Prep Duals — winning easily, 69-5.
Springstead hadn’t dropped a dual meet to the Tigers since the 1994 season opener, when the host Tigers ambushed the Eagles, 43-21.
Eighth-year Tigers coach Mike Scicchitano entered the final robin-round match of the day unbeaten with host Springstead at 4-0.
Through 12 matches, the Tigers led 33-29 thanks to senior Anthony Zucco’s 20-8 dismantling of Springstead freshman Richie Rivera at 113 pounds.
Springstead junior Quentin D’Alessandro flopped back-and-forth with freshman Jarrett Roop, before completing a clutch 14-7 decision to narrow the Tigers’ lead to 33-32.
In the final match of the day, Springstead junior captain and two-time state qualifier Michael McDonald twisted junior RC Consuegra into a 13-3 majority decision and 6-Way Combs Duals II Championship, 36-33.
Springstead repeated as Combs Duals titlists by collecting 47 wins in 65 bouts, featuring 20 pins.
A meet-best six Eagles finished unbeaten: D’Alessandro, McDonald, seniors Jordan Rivera at 145 and Corey Humphrey at 220, and juniors Matt Landgraff at 106 and Andrew Smith at 132-138.
The Tigers (4-1 tourney, 10-2 overall) reached the finals by solving Nature Coast Technical (60-15), Class 6A Lowndes County, Ga. (45-21), Fivay (48-16), and Citra North Marion (75-6).
Though the Tigers competed without two state placers from 2013 — sophomore Adam Lewis (sore knee) and freshman Mike Mosco (football) — Jesuit refused to make excuses.
“The reason why we came here was to compete versus the best, and I’m very proud of how we competed today,” Scicchitano said. “It wasn’t perfect. Everything has to click to beat Springstead. But tonight let us know where we’re at and what we’ve got to start working on.
“With Jesuit wrestling, we’re not in the business of embracing excuses. We were missing a couple guys, so was everybody else. I’m real happy with how we competed, even late in the last match.
“RC (Conseguera) had his hands full with McDonald, but he wrestled hard — that’s all we want. It’s only December in the calendar, not February.”
Scicchitano boasted about “outstanding senior leadership,” led by John Mooney at 195 and Austin Underwood at 285. The duo paced the Tigers with a combined 10-0 record, with eight pins.
“Tonight doesn’t hurt at all,” said Mooney, who improved to 18-2 on the season behind his fifth, sixth and seventh pins this winter. “Today, we got to test ourselves. It’s only December. Records don’t matter now. Everything counts in February.”
“We came up close,” added Underwood, who climbed to 19-0 behind a team-best five pins (17 for the season). “If you analyze each match, it’s really not very upsetting. We really have a lot of young guys.
“… Excuses don’t work with Jesuit wrestling. We wrestled who we had. Our younger guys got to wrestle some quality opponents. Those guys are improving every day.”
Meanwhile, Fivay, Pasco County’s lone entry, finished 1-4. The Falcons beat winless North Marion (42-18), but fell to Springstead (53-18), Jesuit (48-16), Nature Coast (36-33) and Lowndes County, Ga. (60-23).
Like the Tigers, first-year Falcons skipper Matt Bullwinkel arrived short-handed.
126-pounder Jean Alejandro was not available due to SAT testing, while 145-pounder Seth Farley is still recovering from a hamstring pull.
Class 1A state placer Nicco Lightfoot (12-3 overall) pinned Springstead senior Shane Wiggins in his only match at 182 before tweaking his shoulder. He was held out as a precaution for the remainder of the tournament.
“We knew at the beginning of the week, we’d be here short-handed,” noted Bullwinkel, a former Ridgewood High standout. “We knew Springstead, Jesuit, Lowndes County and Nature Coast would be tough — and they were. The individual talent was certainly here. We came in with nine guys and lost Nicco after one match. I’d rather him sit out now, than later, and heal.”
The Falcons were led by two-time state qualifier and 2013 1A state placer Andrew Scherer.
Scherer, who arrived 14-0, added five wins featuring four pins (a team-high 12 on the season).
Seniors Jose Morales at 113 and Cole Manion at 120 were right behind at 4-1.
“Andrew was definitely our MVP,” Bullwinkel said. “We have a game plan for him and he’s sticking to it. Right now, he’s wrestling awful well. But there are still things we can improve on, especially his feet, beginning Monday in the room.”
Mitchell finishes first at Mustang Duals
NEW PORT RICHEY — It’s early in the season, but Mitchell head coach Dan Gigantelli has seen enough that he can make a bold assumption. After watching his team sweep its way to a first-place finish in the Mustang Duals, Gigantelli thinks this squad is his best ever.
Led by five wrestlers who went undefeated, Mitchell went 5-0 with wins over Sunlake, Hudson, Ridgewood, River Ridge and Wiregrass Ranch.
Josh Brooks (138 pounds), Trevor Maples (145), Aaron Youpa (152), Storm Schenk (160) and Dillon Bryant (285) were perfect on the day for Mitchell.
Maples was named the outstanding lower-weight wrestler of the tournament, and Schenk won the outstanding upper-weight award.
Schenk was 5-0 with four pins, and he improved to 14-0 on the season. Maples improved to 12-2 after his 5-0 day.
Gigantelli credits the hard work of his middle school wrestling club the past four years, which has the Mustangs peaking this season.
“We’re having a really good year so far.” Gigantelli said. “Our dual-meet record is 20-3 after (Saturday). It’s the best team I’ve coached here, for sure.
“We have a lot of kids that started with me four years ago in the middle school wrestling club. Those guys are all juniors now, and we’re getting the job done.”
Under first-year coach Eddie Ortiz, Sunlake finished as tournament runner-up by going 4-1. Competing at 220 pounds, Oasin Speicher went 5-0 for the Seahawks.
Gulf finished fifth, but it was more of a story of who wasn’t wrestling for the Bucs. With only 10 wrestlers in the lineup, Gulf was without state-ranked Jarred Kruse (182) and Kenny Hayes (220). They weren’t with the team for unspecified reasons, and their status to return to the squad is uncertain.
Without them, Gulf was led by Tanner Abbot (126) and Robert Napolitano (145), who were undefeated on the day.