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County wrestlers one big family now

Reclassification has dropped Springstead into a district with Hernando and Central next season.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 2, 2000

For Central and Hernando wrestlers, there was good news and bad news Friday as the Florida High School Activities Association unveiled its new classifications for next season.

First, the good news: After being stuck in the same district with Pasco County powers such as Hudson in recent years, the Bears and Leopards are now at the southern end of a new, Pasco-free, eight-team Class A district.

The bad news? Dropping from Class 2A to join that district is Springstead, which returns five wrestlers who qualified for the state meet this year.

"That's going to really improve our stock," Springstead coach Bob Levija said Friday when told of the move. "It makes me want to get the kids together and say, "Hey, let's really get prepared for next year.' "

Levija said Springstead hadn't been grouped in the state's smallest classification in 15 years, and that the new alignment should strengthen the rivalries between county schools. Before this season, Springstead wasn't even in the same conference as Central and Hernando, but now the three schools will be county, conference, district and region rivals.

"It makes it so that more is on the line," Levija said. "Our kids will definitely like that."

The eight-team Class A, District 7 will be composed of Central, Hernando, Springstead, Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto, Dunnellon and Lake Weir, more closely mirroring the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference lineup. The new lineup will mean that Hernando County schools will have nothing but bragging rights on the line when they face Pasco County schools -- until the region meet, anyway.

Springstead had been one of the smallest schools in Class 2A, barely qualifying for the minimum enrollment, and with a minor dropoff in size, the Eagles now will have a chance to compete with the elite Class A powers such as Miami Monsignor Pace, Titusville Astronaut and Cardinal Gibbons.

"We've never been up against a lot of the Class A schools on the state level either, but I guess it's good to get away from some of the big 2A powers," Levija said.

Springstead has had at least one state champion in each of the past five years, and the three county schools have combined for nine state champions since 1997.

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