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Pirate ready for challenge

Nate Naumann can't wait to face some competition in the City Championships.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 11, 2002

Boca Ciega's Nate Naumann is a two-time conference champion and has made it to the state tournament twice.

Unfortunately, his team hasn't been able to match that success.

The Pirates haven't won a tournament title since Naumann started wrestling three seasons ago.

A senior, Naumann pretty much knew the drought would continue after he watched the number of those participating drop from 40 to 10 within the first month of the season.

Ineligibility, injuries, lack of interest. There are a number of reasons the turnout has been low.

It has been a burden for Naumann, who has a hard time finding a workout partner during practice and is the one wrestler other teams shy away from during dual meets.

"It's tough, no doubt about it," Naumann said. "It's hard to get competition. Other teams forfeit to me rather than let me wrestle the best guy they have. Not being able to wrestle anybody doesn't make me better."

It's understandable that Naumann's goals center around himself. He's 18-1 and wants to win conference and regionals and place at least third at the state tournament.

But he also said he wants to be a leader and has taken it upon himself to be a coach with the Pirates.

"I like working with the younger guys and helping them become better," Naumann said. "By doing that, it makes our team better."

"Nate has had a great attitude, even though we don't have many wrestlers," Boca Ciega coach John Ingram said. "He keeps working to make himself better and that rubs off on everyone else."

This week, Naumann leads Boca Ciega in the seventh annual St. Petersburg City Championships. Naumann marked his calendar for this tournament. Last year, he injured his thumb and wasn't able to compete.

"This is one of the tournaments I wanted to win," Naumann said. "I was real disappointed I wasn't able to be in it last season."

Because of his injury last season, Naumann wasn't able to get the number of weigh-ins at his preferred weight class of 112 pounds. He was bumped to 119 and was one point short of winning regionals.

This season, Naumann has wrestled at 125 pounds, a weight he figures to stay at the remainder of the season.

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