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Absentees leave few challengers for Cougars

Countryside wins eight weight classes and cruises to second tournament victory of the season.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002

SEMINOLE -- Here is how well things aligned for Countryside to repeat as champion of the Hooters Classic on Saturday.

Punta Gorda Charlotte was missing five state place-winners, most of whom lost on the football field to Jefferson in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday night.

Flagler Palm Coast was wrestling without three of its best, who were out for various reasons.

Seminole's Joey Fabrizio, who placed sixth in the state at 189 pounds last season, could not compete because he is playing in the Pinellas All-Star football game this week.

So with their path cleared, the Cougars had no problem with the competition, or lack thereof. Countryside scored 266 points to beat runner-up Flagler Palm Coast (191).

It is the second tournament the Cougars have won this season. Last week, Countryside won the Dr. McBath Tough Team tournament in Pasco County.

The Cougars can sympathize with their opponents about missing a star wrestler in a big tournament. That is what Countryside had to deal with after defending state champion Matt Turtzo was injured last week and could not participate.

Nevertheless, the Cougars' depth was too strong and they would have been hard to beat no matter who showed up.

Countryside had six of the tournament's 11 returning state qualifiers. And their experience showed as all won titles. They were: Vincent Scholl (119 pounds); A. Jay Hixon (125); Mike Flood (130); Dominic DeNunzio (135); Steve Spicuzza (140); and Garry Dodds (160).

Kent Costell and Wes Walker, a transfer from Georgia, also won for the Cougars at 103 and 145 pounds. Twelve of the Countryside's 13 wrestlers placed in the top three.

Flood was named the most outstanding wrestler. Flood, who finished third at state last season, beat the bronze medalist from two seasons ago, Charlotte's David Hoke, in the final at 130. Other winners included Kissimmee Gateway's Christian Huaman (171), Charlotte's Matt Joiner (152), Pasco's Justin Craig (189) and Flagler Palm Coast's Cory Guidrey (112), Zack Tomlinson (215) and William Webber (275).

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