tampabay.com

Present state is nice, but focus is on future

By DEREK LARIVIERE
Published February 14, 2007


INVERNESS - The goal of coach Mike Porcelli and Citrus was to create the same consistent dominance that schools like Springstead and Brandon have had.

Don't look now, but the Hurricanes are well on their way.

Last season, many thought it was a last stand for Citrus when the team won the district title and region crowns with seniors Mike Musto and Josh Walter leading the way and lightweight Bryant Fisher complementing the tandem.

Porcelli, then an assistant, made it clear before state in 2006 that he was hoping to build a wrestling tradition at Citrus. As a former U.S. Olympic alternate for the 1988 Seoul Games, his experience in the sport has been crucial.

The results of last season led the school to hire him as coach while he honed younger Citrus County kids to take part in the sport during the offseason. He built a wrestling club and helps coach some Crystal River state qualifiers during the summer.

"This is about an environment," Porcelli said after his team won a second straight Class A region title. "I take pride in knowing that we are building something far greater than just what we did last year or this year."

This year and last year have not been too bad, though. Citrus has begun to gain a reputation among some of the top programs in the state. After getting over some midseason injuries, the Hurricanes broke through with a tournament victory at the Winter Park Duals. That win catapulted the team into the state rankings.

Fisher (119 pounds), now a two-time state qualifier as a junior, was the program's lone region champion, but Citrus advanced five to the state tournament, up from three last season. When talking about a legacy, improvement is good, but according to Porcelli, not good enough.

"Next season we are going to get 12 through to states," he said. "It's great to see us making strides, but we were so close to getting some other guys through."

Young mat technicians now look up to Porcelli and some of the better wrestlers on the Citrus team. Guys like Fisher, Craig Barker (112) and Josh Rutherford (145) will provide leadership as the next batch of future leaders gets to state. If all goes according to Porcelli's plan, it will continue this way as it has at Springstead and Brandon.