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Eagles gain heavyweight talent in transfer Leavine

By VINCENT THOMAS
Published November 11, 2005

There was a 6-foot-5, 280-pound dude walking the halls on the Springstead campus this week. On Thursday he was rolling on mats in the Eagles' wrestling room. He's new and he'll be staying for a while.

Senior Andy Leavine, formerly a standout offensive lineman for Central, transferred to Springstead this week. He and his family moved to a residence on Linden Boulevard in Spring Hill.

Leavine, a Division I football prospect, also happens to be a state title contender in the heavyweight wrestling division. Springstead's wrestling program already benefitted from the transfer of Seth Metz from Crystal River, and Leavine's arrival might make the Eagles the strongest team in Hernando County.

"Andy moving here was huge," said coach Eric Swenson, who is starting his second season. "He fills a major spot for us. Our goal is for him to win the state title."

With Leavine transferring during the school year, there were eligibility concerns. But according to Article 11 of the Florida High School Athletic Association bylaws, transferring athletes maintain their athletic eligibility as long as they relocate to an applicable district with a parent or individual they have lived with continuously for a year. Springstead athletic director Bob Levija said Leavine met those requirements.

Even with eligibility questions answered, Leavine's transfer is not without controversy. He and former Central teammates Joe Marty and Joey Homan were suspended for the final game of the regular season. Thursday, after Leavine finished running conditioning sprints and heaving his big frame up the stands in Booster Stadium, he spoke of some regret for leaving Central, specifically former teammates and his old wrestling coach, Alan Solomon. Though he said his family had been planning a move for a while, there are some unspoken things that occurred this year that make his departure somewhat bitter.

"I sort of lost my heart for Central," Leavine said in a solemn moment.

His somberness was fleeting - the change of scenery has rejuvenated him.

As Springstead football players left the field, a couple flashed a smile his way, some others came up and gave him a high five. If Springstead were to win tonight's playoff game, they would have the option of adding Leavine to the roster. Leavine said he would never accept that.

"A lot of these guys have been busting their butt all year. It just wouldn't be right for me to come at the end and take away some other guy's spot," he said.

And wrestling season is under way, which is what Leavine is focusing on at the moment.

"I'm really excited about this," Leavine said. "We've got some great coaches, great players. I'm happy right now."

Vincent Thomas can be reached at vthomas@sptimes.com or 352-424-0177.

[Last modified November 11, 2005, 01:19:18]


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