Springstead rolls in the Buccaneer Holiday Invitational, taking out Countryside for the title.
By MIKE TOMPKINS
Published December 18, 2005
NEW PORT RICHEY - Springstead took a good step toward reclaiming its status as one of the top programs in the North Suncoast on Saturday, defeating Clearwater Countryside 37-31 in the Buccaneer Holiday Invitational at Gulf.
The Eagles swept the 24-team tournament, winning all six of their matches to improve to 8-0 this season. The tournament came down to the 125-pound match, in which Springstead's Skylar Huff held on to defeat Mike Talhouk 11-10.
Huff, along with Skhuyler Swanton (103), and transfers Seth Metz (160, Crystal River) and Andy Leavine (275, Central), went undefeated. The Eagles won despite being without Walter Acosta (171), one of their top performers, and they sent four freshmen onto the mats.
"It's unbelievable," second-year coach Eric Swensen said. "The whole team is MVP. You know, these guys stepped it up. They just put everything on the line. We're bleeding red, white and blue for the Eagles, and it came through (Saturday). It's just so satisfying."
Even after the loss, first-year Cougars coach Greg Chapman was not disappointed.
"You have to realize two of my starters were out," Chapman said. "My 145-pounder and my 130-pounder were out. So I was behind going in. And Springstead wrestled really, really well. They deserve every bit of credit."
The Eagles reached the finals by sweeping through their pool, which included Lehigh, defending champion Chamberlain, River Ridge and Belleview. The Royal Knights finished 2-2 in the pool, and lost to the Eagles 51-18. Countryside won all five pool matches, defeating Ridgewood, Citrus, Colonial, Immokalee and Golden Gate. The Rams also went 2-2, including an opening-round 42-27 loss at the hands of the Cougars.
Gulf surprised everyone, including its coach, by advancing to the championship bracket. The Buccaneers were defeated 54-30 by Zephyrhills in their first match before rebounding to beat Lecanto, Wesley Chapel and Hernando. Gulf clinched the pool by defeating Bishop Moore 52-27, winning the head-to-head battle as both teams finished with 4-1 records.
"I'll be the first one to tell you I don't know how in the heck they got to the final round," coach Travis Dewalt said. "Not after getting pounded in the first round by nearly 30 points. To come back and take the hard road, winning four straight, that's tough. They stepped it up and wrestled well towards the end."