Will 8 Be Enough? Braves Keep Sights on Winning State Title
Fri. February 15, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
Lake Gibson sends eight wrestlers to state wrestling tournament. Front row, from left, are Chase Krutsky (145 pounds) , Seth Kelley (113), Saderian Perry (120) and Caleb Smith (106). Back row, from left, are Alex Destra (156), Dorian Spradlin (170), David Rudd (220) and Jason Foster (195). (Photo by ERNST PETERS | THE LEDGER)
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKELAND | With the FHSAA state wrestling championships converging at The Lakeland Center today and Saturday, Lake Gibson head coach Danny Walker is wondering if eight is enough.
The Braves finished as state runners-up the past two seasons, producing two individual state champions last year after qualifying nine wrestlers for the state meet. Lake Gibson qualified eight in Class 2A this season, and Walker knows a team state championship is still within reach despite losing last year's gold medalists to graduation.
"I think we did get enough through (to state). A lot of it is going to depend on those second rounds (today) and then semifinals on Saturday, because that's the rounds where you get the most points," Walker said. "We went through the brackets and it's going to be very close. It's going to be very close all around. A lot of it is going to come down to bonus points like who gets the most pins and who get the most technical falls."
The Braves head into the tournament with three regional champions. Senior 145-pound grappler Chase Krutzky could lead the way to the medal podium. He has finished sixth in the state on two occasions and holds a 45-3 record this season.
"He's a special kid, who placed as a freshman and everyone had high expectations," Walker said. "This year he's been more determined than I've seen him in the past and he's stayed away from the injury bug. He's been the one constant on the team."
Walker said Krutzky is a complete wrestler, one who can work from his feet, shoot, nail takedowns and then open up an overwhelming arsenal of moves on the mats.
"He's a very good mat wrestler, that's where he's best," Walker said. "He's a good top-bottom wrestler, and he can pin people. He's wrestled for such a long time that he can wrestle anywhere, where some kids are just good at takedowns."
Walker also said the longer a match goes, especially against better wrestlers, the match seems to swing in Krutzky's favor.
"His motto is: ‘They're always going to choose down against me, and I'm always going to have a chance to turn them.' " Walker said. "When he gets that chance he tries to make the best of it."
Two more Braves, Dorian Spradlin (170) and Jason Foster (195), also enter the tournament as regional champions.
"Not a lot of people know about Foster," Walker said. "He's a football player and last year he lost his match to go to the state tournament. He was so upset about it. From that day forward he said he would not be denied going to the state tournament this year. He's lived up to everything and did everything he said he was going to do. Spradlin is a kid that has all the tools."
Rounding out Lake Gibson's eight qualifiers are: Caleb Smith (106), Seth Kelly (113), Sa'Derian Perry (120), Alex Destra (152), and David Rudd (220). Perry and Destra are regional runners-up.
"Perry is a kid no one saw coming out of the woodwork, but he is really explosive on his feet, and Destra is a kid that coaches dream about coaching," Walker said.
"He's done whatever I ask him to do. He's just a special kid."
Auburndale is sending three wrestlers to compete in Class 2A: Hunter Dowdy (132), David Glenn (138) and Antonio Thomas (HW), who posted an impressive 46-2 record this season.
"Antonio has a low center of gravity and can bring people down and control them," Auburndale coach Vince Parker said. "Hunter lives or dies by the ‘cowboy' and the ‘butcher.' And if he can get one of those two moves (to work), he is good to go."
Mulberry is sending two regional champions, Brian Treacy (152) and David Prindiville (170), to the Class 1A competition.
"I think they both have a good chance of medaling," Mulberry coach Jason Hinton said. "Treacy has unique northern style that we don't see much in Florida. This is David's second time at state. He was nervous last year, and he should be ready now."