Nature Coast

Eagles just short of Kiwanis crown

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Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Travis Williams tries to lock in a hold on Josh Hagan of Citrus during their 170-pound final on Saturday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – A total of 14 seasons have gone by since Bob Levija last guided the Springstead wrestling team through a regular-season tournament.
On Friday and Saturday at Hernando High, the Hall of Fame mentor was once again at the helm of the vaunted program he built and cultivated for 23 seasons, and the Eagles nearly hoisted a championship trophy in the process.
Springstead ended the 35th annual Kiwanis Invitational with 138 team points, an agonizing 1.5 behind first-place Tampa-Robinson at 139.5.

Sharks stumble early, surge late

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Kaine McColley shoots a free throw in Tuesday night's game against Crystal River. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – It may be early in the season, and the opposing team was minus its leading scorer Tuesday night.
Nonetheless, Nature Coast’s boys basketball team served notice that it’s far from ready to be knocked off its perch atop the district. Hosting Crystal River in a key Class 6A, District 7 clash, the defending district champion Sharks overcame an early deficit to pull away with a 71-59 victory.

Sports notebook: Lady Hornets hand Hernando first loss

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Weeki Wachee's Taylor Miller goes up for a shot against the defense of Hernando's Kaitlyn Costa-White on Tuesday night. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

It was a busy week for the Weeki Wachee girls basketball teams, with four games on the slate. But in the process, the Lady Hornets picked up a big victory over a county rival.

Hernando takes second at Weeki Wachee

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Photo by Cheryl Clanton

WEEKI WACHEE – Outside of the last match, it was a pleasant weekend for Hernando at the Weeki Wachee Duals.
The Leopards opened the season by placing second in the two-day tournament, going 7-1 with the only loss at the very end against unbeaten Dover-Strawberry Crest.
“We’re excited. We have a really good dual team. It was fun to see it in action. They did really good across the board,” Hernando head coach David Pritz said. “That last team was just better than us, but we wrestled tough.

Tale of two halves ends in tie

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Weeki Wachee's Bailey Hypes controls the ball while being persued by Nature Coast's Hunter Reid (10) and Caleb Rojas. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

WEEKI WACHEE – Both Nature Coast and Weeki Wachee had 40 minutes to be happy with on Wednesday night.
Problem for both teams was the Class 3A, District 7 boys soccer match lasted 80, and as a result it concluded in a 1-1 tie.
“We never play for a tie, but it was good to get the tie,” said Nature Coast sophomore Hunter Reid. “We let them control the first half. Came back in the second half, switched our formation and really, we showed them up. We possessed. We played the ball. We held the ball in the second half.”

Sports notebook: Vonada staying on at Hernando

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Bill Vonada will return as Hernando's head football coach next season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Turns out Hernando High won’t be in the market for a new head football coach after all. A week after Bill Vonada said he wouldn’t be back with the Leopards after three seasons, the school announced his return.
“We’re going to just do everything we can to move forward and put together the best program we can for the coming year,” Vonada said.
Out of respect to his players, Vonada declined to go into specific details about the chain of events that led him to temporarily leave the program.

Sports notebook: Springstead athletes sign early

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead softball player Kama Woodall, left, and volleyball libero Alondra Rodriguez celebrate their signings on Monday, with Springstead principal Carmine Rufa. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

On Monday, two Springstead seniors took advantage of the early signing period that ended on Wednesday to ink national letters of intent with their respective college choices.
For softball pitching ace Kama Woodall, the pick was Division I North Carolina State. Alondra Rodriguez, the volleyball team’s libero the past three seasons, will be attending Division II Rollins College in Winter Park.
Woodall transferred to Springstead last school year after leading St. Petersburg-Canterbury to back-to-back state titles in 2013-14, and to the Final Four in 2015.

Sharks suffer shocking semifinal loss

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

River Ridge's Alex Kostogiannes gets off a punt over the rush of Nature Coast's Lenkel Smith in Friday's playoff contest. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Going into Friday night’s second-round playoff game, undefeated Nature Coast seemed on a collision course with Green Cove Springs-Clay for an Elite Eight rematch.
But River Ridge had other ideas. Hosting the Class 5A, Region 2 football semifinal, the Royal Knights found a way to stymie the Sharks’ powerhouse offense and handed them a stunning 24-3 defeat.
“It hurts. It hurts,” Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden said. “We’ve got a good group of seniors. They’ve played hard all year. Mistakes finally caught up to us.

Sports notebook: Eagles fall to powerhouse Vanguard

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Springstead lost a regional quarterfinal at Ocala-Vanguard on Friday, 45-0. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

For Springstead’s football team, the return to the postseason after a two-season absence proved a short visit. But considering the task it faced, the result wasn’t unexpected.
The Eagles visited Ocala-Vanguard in a Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinal on Friday night and suffered a 45-0 defeat.
Yet considering the Knights (9-1) boast several Division I prospects and averaged 45.7 points in the regular season with an average margin of victory of 41.4 points, it was no secret that Springstead (6-3) faced an uphill battle.

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