By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002
LAKELAND -- As the National Anthem played, Countryside's Steve Spicuzza and Matt Turtzo received a call from their idol -- Jared Frayer.
Frayer, a former three-time state champion with the Cougars and the son of Countryside coach Dave Frayer, congratulated them on making it to the Class 2A finals Saturday at the Lakeland Center.
It was all the inspiration Spicuzza and Turtzo needed. Both won their first title, ending a two-year drought of individual champions for Pinellas County.
Another finalist, East Lake's Dallas Hafner, finished as the runner-up in the 152-pound class.
Spicuzza, a junior competing in the 135-pound division, defeated Punta Gorda Charlotte's John Elder 1-0. It was the same opponent Spicuzza beat a week ago for a regional crown.
"You're always going to be nervous wrestling in the state finals," Spicuzza said. "But I thought I was better than him. I knew I wouldn't lose."
Spicuzza turned into a fan afterward as he watched Turtzo, his close friend and sparing partner, battle in the 140-pound final.
Turtzo's opponent was Brandon's Rocky Cozart, an undefeated freshman and the son of coach Russ Cozart. Turtzo, a junior, won 10-6, denying Rocky Cozart the chance to become a potential four-time champion.
"I've been wanting to wrestle him since I was in the seventh grade," Turtzo said. "I was so excited to win. Now, Steve and I get to have our picture up on the wall at school with all the other state champions."
Two individual champs were not enough for Countryside to catch Brandon, which captured its 13th title. Still, the Cougars, who finished third, had six place-winners -- the same as the Eagles.
"I was pleased with how we wrestled," Frayer said. "Overall, it was a great showing."
Countryside's Vince Scholl (103) and Mike Flood (125) took third, Dominic DeNunzio (130) was fourth and A. Jay Hixon (112) took fifth. East Lake's Hafner, a senior who was undefeated, lost 6-0 to another unbeaten wrestler, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas' Jon Wimberly.
"I had known about Wimberly for a long time," Hafner said. "Know, I know how good he is. But I don't have any complaints."
Hafner and Tim Dresser, a 171-pounder who was fifth, helped the Eagles finish 14th -- the next highest placement among county teams.
Tarpon Springs' Kelly McCarty (275) took fifth, and Boca Ciega's Nate Naumann (125) and Seminole's Joey Fabrizio (189) were sixth to round out the county's place-winners.