For five years, Joe Felice has worked to build the Weeki Wachee wrestling program from scratch. On Saturday, he and the rest of the Hornets enjoyed the fruits of that labor. Weeki Wachee scored 221 team points in the Class 1A, District 6 Tournament at Anclote, well ahead of Hernando in second at 171. It marks the first district championship in team history, and only the school’s second in any sport following the volleyball team’s first-place finish earlier this school year.
“I’m still on Cloud 9 right now,” said Felice, the Hornets’ head coach. “I’m driving home and I’m still shaking. It’s a pretty good feeling. We had a great semifinal round. We won 11 semifinals of the 13 we were in. It was a great team effort and a really good semifinal pushed us to a championship.”
Indeed, a Hornet reached the semifinals in all but one weight class, with seven grapplers coming away with individual titles. Those champions included Devin Horton at 106 pounds, Nick Marsh at 126, Hunter Gibson at 132, Brandon Enoch at 145, Nathaniel DeJesus at 160, Donte Young at 170 and Dean Brooks at 285.
Additional regional qualifiers, via a top-four placing, included Brandon Smith (second at 120), Josh Coley (fourth at 138), Alex Gomez (second at 152), Patrick Webb-Melton (second at 182) and Romeo Tzobanakis (second at 220). “I can’t single anybody out,” Felice said. “They work hard and I’m excited. I’m happy for the whole team. I’m proud of all of them.
“I guess it’s a little bit of vindication that the hard work everyone has put in, the kids, the parents, the coaching staff, it’s paid off.”
Keegan Davis of Nature Coast won at 138, as did teammate Jordan Gibson at 152. Anthony Contegiacomo, a state runner-up last year, took the crown at 220 for the Sharks, who came in fourth (93). Also, Kyle Schaefer came in third at 195 and Julian Fulwider placed fourth at 132.
Hernando also sent 13 to regionals: Zachary Dill (third at 106), Samantha Gommier (fourth at 113), Joshua Hulse (third at 120), Yovanny Rodriguez (second at 126), Dakota Ellerbee (second at 132), Michael Bearden (third at 138), Codey Maniates (second at 145), Christian Dowdell (third at 152), Demarcus Munford (third at 160), Harry Williams (second at 170), Abel Terkovich (second at 195), Michael Listebarger (third at 220) and Robert Graves (third at 285).
In the 2A-5 Tournament at Belleview, Springstead’s run of 11 straight district titles came to an end. Still, the undermanned Eagles managed to edge Citrus by one point, 160-159. Host Belleview won with 208.5. “It was a good one. Unfortunately, we came in runner-up,” LaRocca said. “Overall, I’d give us a B-minus average. But the kids did what they had to do.”
Springstead’s lineup suffered a serious blow earlier in the week when sophomore Tommy Barker, a state placer a year ago at 106, left the team, according to LaRocca. Barker had struggled with making weight throughout the season, the coach said.
Charlie Roche at 132 and Travis Williams at 152 both collected district crowns. The Eagles had a slew of runners-up: Xzavier Ramos (113), Vinny D’Alessandro (120), Kevin Rivera (126), Chase Landgraff (138), Brandon Burgess (182) and Matt Lindsey (195). Vincent Araniti (145) and Trenton Schenefield (170) both took third.
In softball, Nature Coast improved to 9-0 with three victories, Tuesday against Hudson (4-2), Wednesday versus Wesley Chapel (12-0) and Friday over Ridgewood (18-0).
Springstead (6-1) garnered a pair of wins, topping Crystal River on Tuesday, 11-3, and Tampa-Academy of the Holy Names on Friday, 5-0.
Central and Springstead are both 4-1 in baseball, with the Bears losing to Ridgewood on Tuesday (7-6) but bouncing back to beat River Ridge on Thursday (2-1) and Hudson on Friday (6-2).
The Eagles likewise suffered their first defeat on Tuesday, against Land O’ Lakes (5-2), then won over Lecanto on Wednesday, 9-0, and Crystal River on Friday, 3-0.
Nature Coast also has a 4-1 mark behind a 3-0 week, notching victories over Hudson on Tuesday (4-1), Weeki Wachee on Thursday (5-4) and Fivay on Friday (11-0). Hernando went 2-0 on the week, downing Fivay on Tuesday (18-1) and Gulf on Friday (11-0) to improve to 3-1 overall.
The Nature Coast boys tennis team moved to 7-0, winning by a 7-0 score against Citrus on Wednesday and Wesley Chapel on Thursday. No. 1 singles player Dakota Willey has a 6-0 record on the season.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.