Extensive senior leadership propels Jesuit

And Matt Lynn, Paul Lazaro lead Tigers' bid for an eighth straight district title.

By BY TERRY JONES Times Correspondent
Published February 1, 2007

TAMPA - At the top of the list of reasons Jesuit coach Jason Musial believes his Tigers have a shot at the Class A team championship this year are eight healthy seniors.

At the top of that list are the dynamic duo of upper weights, Matt Lynn and Paul Lazaro.

Most of the seniors have been in and out of the lineup much of the season because of illness and injuries.

But Lynn (171 pounds) and Lazaro (285) have been mostly in, as their crown victories in big tournaments can attest.

Both won individual titles in the Cougar Invitational in December, and the Springstead Invitational and Ippolito Memorial Tournaments in January. All three had 30 or more teams.

One of the teams Jesuit beat in a tournament was Jupiter Christian, the defending Class A champion.

Lazaro is 26-1 and Lynn is 31-1. Both are actually light in their weight classes and don't have the age-old wrestler's problem of cutting weight.

"That is a good thing," Lynn said. "Most guys struggle cutting weight, but being a little under is good. I still eat healthy though. We are really looking forward to this run for the state title.

"With all our seniors back and healthy, I believe we have a good chance. We haven't wrestled (Fort Myers) Riverdale or Palmetto Ridge, but we have done well against other top Class A teams and never at full strength."

Jesuit goes into districts and the state run ranked fifth by Floridakids.us in Class A, behind Palmetto Ridge, Riverdale, Cardinal Gibbons and Live Oak Suwannee. Floridakids.us ranks the teams and individuals in the state.

At 250, Lazaro is a light 285-pounder. He says he is comfortable with his natural weight and at 5-foot-9 says he doesn't want any more weight.

He played junior varsity football for the Tigers, but last year decided to focus only on wrestling.

Tigers coach Jason Musial says he is pleased with his team's attitude and health as he prepares for districts Saturday in the Tigers' gym. Jesuit has won the past seven district titles and 17 of the past 18.

"We haven't really seen the full capacity of our team yet, because one or more have been out all season," Musial said. "We don't have just two team captains. With eight excellent seniors though, we have plenty of solid senior leadership.

"Matt and Paul have been the most consistently healthy and certainly are example leaders. Paul is more of a quiet leader, but Matt can speak out when something needs to be said to correct or encourage his teammates."

All Hillsborough County teams are scheduled to compete in one-day district tournaments, either Friday or Saturday.

District meets are seeded by individual records in each qualified weight class. Only the top four individuals in each weight class qualify for the region meets, scheduled for Feb. 9-10.



District wrestling 

Class 3A-5
When/where: Saturday, Sickles
Schedule: Preliminary matches, noon; consolations, 4:30 p.m.; finals, 6 p.m.
Teams: Alonso, Bloomingdale, Durant, East Bay, Gaither, Lakeland, Plant City, Riverview, Sickles
Skinny: Durant and Bloomingdale battled for second in the county meet and Durant won. They should battle for first in the district. Alonso and Lakeland are also tough and should have a say in the final outcome.

Class 2A-8
When/where: Friday, Jefferson
Schedule: Preliminary matches, 10 a.m.; consolations, 5 p.m.; finals, 7 p.m.
Teams: Blake, Chamberlain, Freedom, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Leto, Middleton, Plant, Wharton
Skinny: Chamberlain is the team favorite, but Wharton and Middleton will challenge. Allen Nunez is perhaps the most unheralded heavyweight in the county. The Hillsborough senior is a quality wrestler and could be a state placer, but his secret is out and he won't be able to surprise anyone anymore.

Class 2A-7
When/where: Friday, Lakeland George Jenkins
Schedule: Preliminary matches, 11 a.m.; consolations and finals on two mats, 6:30 p.m.
Teams: Armwood, Auburndale, Brandon, King, Jenkins, Lake Gibson, Lake Region, Winter Haven
Skinny: Brandon is favored and should dominate, with at least eight district champions. The Eagles are weak in three weights, but should send 11 to regionals and on to state. Lake Gibson and Armwood have excellent wrestlers at 125, 130 and 135, but Brandon should challenge there.

Class A-9
When/where: Saturday, Jesuit
Schedule: Preliminary matches, 11 a.m.; consolations and finals on two mats, 5 p.m.
Teams: Berkeley Prep, Jesuit, Lakeland Kathleen Lennard, Lakeland McKeel, Mulberry, Robinson, Spoto, Tampa Baptist, Tampa Prep
Skinny: Jesuit has won the past seven district team titles and is favored. It has enough balance to send all 14 to the region meet. Robinson should place second. At 103, Tampa Baptist's Clark Glass is ranked No. 1 in the state, but will be challenged by Brandon Wrestling Club teammate Tyler Libertore. Both are highly skilled, tough seventh graders.