Eagles look to avenge losses
By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001
BROOKSVILLE -- The story of the Class A, District 7 Tournament was driven by a classic literary engine: revenge.
Several wrestlers -- including Crystal River's Nate Stone, Hernando's Drew Innes and Lecanto's Ishmael Brown -- won titles by defeating opponents who had previously dominated them.
Four Springstead members lost in the finals, and Eagles coach Bob Levija hopes the status quo highlights the next chapter in the Region 2 Tournament today and Saturday at Central High School.
"In that situation, it's all mental," Levija said. "One kid loses to a kid he thinks he can beat, and he gets all (ticked) off.
"Hopefully we'll wrestle better than we did last week," Levija said.
So will Springstead's Louis Kachiroubas (145), Tim Cook (160), Steve Garofano (171) and Jose Flores (215) enact their revenge this weekend?
"Tell you in a couple of days," Levija said.
Right now, the coach is more concerned with the 15 or so schools (in a 27-team region) that he knows nothing about.
In their first year in Class A, the Eagles have seen only the North Suncoast participants and Astronaut, so Springstead will not glean much of its scouting reports until the action begins.
"You kind of hold your breath because you don't know what to expect," Levija said. "Sometimes you don't even know who the other district champions are."
Levija and Central coach Alan Solomon are thankful for the one familiar thing their teams will see this week: local surroundings.
"It's nice because you don't have to worry about hotels and watching the kids all night, and they can go home if they want to," Solomon said.
Just as in the district tournament, the top four place winners in each weight class will advance to the Florida Finals, Feb. 22-24 in Lakeland.
Two of Springstead's district champions -- 119-pounder Jason Faucher and Matt Booker (135) -- received first-round byes.
That's not a bonus for a team angling for a region crown. Individual district champs are pitted against fourth seeds from other districts in preliminaries, presumably giving their team a great chance to amass points.
In Booker's case, a lighter day might be a blessing. "Booker's been real sick. He's not been in school all week until today," Levija said.
Booker could find Sebring's Chris Miller (30-5) waiting for him if he reaches the finals.
Springstead's Reggie Pena, who won a district title at 150 pounds, is looking forward to a potential meeting with Pasco counterpart Alvaro Moreno.
If Pena (40-0) gets his wish, he will meet Moreno (19-4) for a championship.
"Me and Moreno have had our wars," Pena said. "We'll have another at regions."
There are other interesting wrestlers in that bracket, including Michael Criss (21-2) of Cocoa Beach, Sebastian River's Dan Ingraham (24-1) and Central's Daren Grant (25-5).
Springstead's Gerard DeCristofaro (40-0) enters the regional undefeated, but appears to have a rougher route than Booker or Pena.
Four entrants in the class have won at least 30 matches. Pasco's Jonathan Hancock is 23-1, though Levija said, DeCristofaro has "already trounced him earlier this season."
Central sophomore Bucky Solomon (33-2) faces an imposing weekend.Bartow's Nathan Poole (29-3) is in Solomon's bracket, and Justin Fraga (29-3) of Cocoa Beach and Lake Weir's Mark Deemer (whom Solomon beat 5-0 in the district final) potentially lurk thereafter.
Levija expects Pasco, which finished second to Sebring in District 8, to factor highly in the team standings.
"I think Pasco will be in the mix," he said. "The tougher the tournament the better they produce, because then the quality, not the quantity, comes out."
Hernando's four-wrestler foray is being trumpeted as a triumph of wills by coach Matt Smith and the remnants of his squad.
Smith dismissed several wrestlers during the season, but was pleased with the group of four that advanced.
Sophomore 112-pounder Chris Malvesti, with 20-plus wins, had been a prime candidate for regions but missed weight at districts by half a pound.
"Our season has been up and down since all the losses of wrestlers," Innes said.
"But I'm proud of the guys who stuck it out, and we'll work with the four we have moving on."
Class A, Region 2 Wrestling Tournament
WHERE: Central High School.
WHEN: Preliminaries begin noon Friday. Semifinals start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Consolation finals and championship finals begin 6 p.m. Saturday.
WHO: Individuals from teams representing District 5 (Bishop Moore, Seabreeze, Taylor, Lake Highland and Jones); District 6 (Astronaut, Sebastian River, Rockledge, Cocoa Beach, Bayside Palm Bay and Cocoa); District 7 (Springstead, Lake Weir, Central, Crystal River, Lecanto and Hernando); and District 8 (Sebring, Pasco, Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel, Mulberry, Bartow, Lake Wales and Mitchell).
AT STAKE: The top four placers in each class advance to the Florida Finals, Feb. 22-24 at Lakeland Center. Springstead qualified 11 wrestlers for regions. Central has 9, Hernando 4.
Springstead was the mightiest of the mighty in its respective district tournament, scoring more team points than any other champ.
DISTRICT 5: Bishop Moore, 186.
DISTRICT 6: Astronaut, 178.
DISTRICT 7: Springstead, 223.5.
DISTRICT 8: Sebring, 178.
Bishop Moore, 13; Rockledge, 12; Astronaut, 12; Sebring, 12; Seabreeze, 12; Springstead, 11.
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