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Green Devils' unity prevails

Despite mohawk haircuts, St. Petersburg wrestlers look anything but foolish in winning third consecutive title.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg coach Sam Pruitt looked like a man who had just seen horror film character Freddy Krueger after his team weighed in at the St. Petersburg City Championships.

Five wrestlers, including team captain Alibek Dagley, had mohawk haircuts.

"I thought, "Oh, no,"' Pruitt said. "I saw those haircuts and told the guys we have to win now or we'll look pretty foolish."

No problem.

The Green Devils have made a habit of winning the tournament and did so for the third year in a row Saturday.

In fact, St. Petersburg was so dominant it had the title wrapped up before the finals and scored 210.5 points, 68 more than runner-up Dixie Hollins.

"This is really good for our team," Pruitt said. "The kids work really hard and show a lot of unity."

Perhaps nothing showed more unity than the Green Devils' choice of hairstyles.

The idea came from Dagley, who read about World War II paratroopers who shaved their heads before D-day.

"I figured if it was good enough for paratroopers to scare the Germans, I might as well do it before I go to battle," said Dagley, a self-described history buff.

A teammate noticed Dagley's haircut and did the same Friday. Three more teammates followed suit Saturday.

"I wanted to do everything I can to win this tournament," Dagley said. "I would have been ashamed if we didn't win it."

Dagley did his part on the mat, winning the 171-pound class with a pin in 33 seconds. His teammates were equally strong as 11 St. Petersburg wrestlers placed in the top three.

"I feel we've kind of turned the corner with the program," said Pruitt, whose team is 14-1. "This is the best team I've ever had."

Other Green Devils who won titles were Mike Taylor (103 pounds), Shawn Brownell (112), Patrick Long (140), Ian Taylor (160) and Brian Spurgeon (215).

Northeast's John Milo won the most valuable wrestler award. He pinned his way to a title in the 135-pound class.

St. Petersburg Catholic 189-pounder Chris Thurn won the award for the most pins in the least amount of time. He had three in a combined 4 minutes, 26 seconds.

Other winners were Dixie Hollins' Martin Otano (119), Boca Ciega's Nate Naumann (125), Dixie Hollins' Minio Torres (130), Northside Christian's Kyle Duquette (145), Northeast's Kenny Luu (152), Lakewood's Dale Darr (189) and St. Petersburg Catholic's Joe Simoncini (275).

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