By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 20, 2002
CLEARWATER -- Palm Harbor University coach Bill Perry did the math and discovered his team trailed defending Pinellas County Athletic Conference champion and tournament host Countryside by 10 points going into Saturday's finals.
Perry didn't get too excited, though, because the numbers wouldn't equal a victory.
That's because the Cougars had all nine wrestlers advance to the finals.
By contrast, the Hurricanes had three of seven advance.
Taking advantage of its overwhelming difference in competitors, Countryside padded its lead and scored 214 points to outdistance Palm Harbor (175 points).
"We were close enough to smell it (victory), yet just far enough away for them (the Cougars) to run away with it," Perry said.
"We knew the gauntlet was coming. They have so many talented wrestlers and they were all in the finals. They earned it and they have everything to be proud of."
The Hurricanes had a glimmer of hope when James Emerson scored a 7-2 decision over Vince Scholl of Countryside in the 103-pound final.
But the following bout pretty much sealed Countryside's 17th conference title as AJ Hixon countered with a 4-1 decision over PHU's Robert Sprentall at 112.
Palm Harbor didn't have another champion.
Meanwhile, the Cougars had six more -- Mike Flood (125 pounds), Dominic DeNunzio (130), John Rowe (135), Steve Spicuzza (140), Matt Turtzo (145) and Garry Dodds (160).
"I'm pleased with the way we wrestled," Countryside coach Dave Frayer said. "We have a lot of young kids who have grown up. They are believing in themselves and are now taking it to the next level."
Pinellas Park, despite not having a conference champion, finished third with 155 points. East Lake had four champions -- Josh Prior (119), Dallas Hafner (152), Tim Dresser (171) and Jimmy Myers (189) -- and finished fourth with 154.
Other conference champions were St. Petersburg's Brian Spurgeon (215) and Boca Ciega's Larry Lindsey (275).