wrestling

Rivera’s state title school year’s top story

Springstead 113-pounder Richie Rivera finishes off a takedown against Lleyton Taylor of Riverdale in their quarterfinal match in Class 2A state meet action. Rivera won 5-0. Photo by Matt Pfiffner/Citrus Chronicle

With the school year coming to a close in Hernando County, the time has come to reflect back on the 2016-17 prep sports season.
Success was spread out, with all six FHSAA-sanctioned schools boasting at least one district championship team, and the county had an Elite Eight squad in all three seasons, fall, winter and spring.
Here are the top three stories from the past 10 months of action:
1. Rivera overcomes adversity for state crown

Springstead’s Rivera wins ‘amazing’ state title

Photography by Matt Pfiffner/Citrus Chronicle

Springstead 113-pounder Richie Rivera finishes off a takedown against Lleyton Taylor of Riverdale in their quarterfinal match Friday in Class 2A action. Rivera won 5-0. Photo by Matt Pfiffner/Citrus Chronicle

Capturing a wrestling state championship requires an incredible amount of mental fortitude all by itself.
But under the circumstances Springstead senior Richie Rivera faced during the Class 2A FHSAA Finals at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, his accomplishment of placing first at 113 pounds had his coach Bob Levija repeating one word over and over.
“It was amazing,” Levija said. “It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced, that he could stay that focused and wrestled the way he did.
“He wrecked everybody. He was just really on.”

Sports notebook: County wrestlers advance to states

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Josh Hulse collected a regional championship on Saturday, winning at 120 pounds as the Leopards finished second in 2A-2. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

A week after both collected district championships, both Hernando and Springstead’s wrestling teams had to tangle with state title contenders in Friday and Saturday’s regional meets.
With that in mind, each squad had to be satisfied with its performance and all four Hernando County programs will have some representation at the FHSAA Finals next weekend at Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena.

Sports notebook: Eagle, Leopard wrestlers earn district titles

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead Richie Rivera (blue and white) was among the Eagles' eight district champions on Saturday. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

For so many years, the idea of Springstead’s wrestlers capturing a district championship seemed like a foregone conclusion.
But after seeing its streak of 11 straight titles come to end last year, and dealing with a tumultuous coaching situation prior to this season, the Eagles were a considerable question mark when this campaign began.
On Saturday, though, Springstead put all that in the rearview mirror, collecting its 30th district crown with a first-place finish in the Class 2A, District 5 Tournament at Citrus.

Sports notebook: Lady Sharks repeat as state runners-up

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's girls weightlifting team celebrates with its district championship trophy and medals last month. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

On Friday, the Nature Coast girls weightlifting team traveled to Belleview for the Class 1A FHSAA Finals, and they didn’t return home empty-handed.
For the second year in a row, the Lady Sharks were the state runners-up, scoring 17 points to edge Lake Weir, the team that had defeated Nature Coast at regionals two weeks earlier, by one point. River Ridge was again state champion, scoring 29.

Sports notebook: Nature Coast hires new football coach

Photo provided

Cory Johns

A football team that has gone a combined 22-2 the past two seasons figured to draw plenty of interest for its head coaching vacancy.
No surprise then that Nature Coast received over 80 resumes for its opening this past month, which the school filled this week with the hiring of Kissimmee-Liberty headman Cory Johns.
“It was one of those opportunities I couldn’t pass up,” Johns said. “I’m not into bouncing around. I’m looking for a place to be for a very long time, or at least as long as they’ll keep me. This place looked like it.

Learning the Ropes with the WWN Training Academy

photography by Matt Vandenburgh

The students of the WWN training academy hold promise for the future of Pro Wrestling in Florida

Amidst the crowds at the Gulf View Square Mall, every Tuesday and Thursday night a group of men and women meet to learn how to wrestle. The World Wrestling Network, a partnership of Professional Wrestling companies that perform around the country, established a training academy in New Port Richey where ambitious young men and women can learn how to safely wrestle and entertain audiences.

Eagles finish fourth in rugged home tourney

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Richie Rivera grabs Lake Gibson's Nathan Lawwell from behind during Saturday 113-pound final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – By the high standards Springstead’s wrestling program has established over the decades, a fourth-place showing in its own tournament won’t stand out in the history books.
But considering the level of competition in this weekend’s Corey Hill Memorial Invite, the Eagles’ performance certainly ranks as respectable.

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