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Gryphons settle for second


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002

DURANT -- Although Sickles battled Lakeland tough throughout two days of the seventh annual Cougar Invitational, three missing Gryphons and a some talented Dreadnaughts proved to be the difference. Lakeland won with 252.5 points and five individual champions, followed by Sickles with 197 and one champion.

The next three teams were separated by one point. Sarasota Riverview was third with 152, Durant fourth with 151.50 and Riverview fifth with 151.

Stan Liberatore was the only individual winner from Sickles, but Tim Jones (145) and Omar Mubadin (171) placed second.

"Lakeland definitely was the best team in the tournament this weekend," Sickles coach Terry Brockland said. "We will learn from this tournament and get better. Our kids had some good matches and they will improve from each one."

Other county wrestlers winning weight classes included Temple Heights eighth-grader Sean Joyce (103), Durant's Matt Caraballo (112), Jesuit's Alex Enriquez (145) and Riverview's Justin Savich (152).

Liberatore placed second in the Class 2A state tournament last year.

"This tournament provided some very good practice, but my sights are still on going back and winning state," Liberatore said. "There were some good matches, though, and I believe we would have done better as a team with our missing guys in the lineup."

In addition to defending state champion Jegan Gabbidon, upperweights Steve Brockman and Jason Henikah did not compete for Sickles. One of the better matches of the tournament was at 103 pounds between Joyce and Lake Gibson junior Nick Randall. Both entered the undefeated, but Joyce scored a fall at 5 minutes, 17 seconds.

"Nick is a good wrestler and we have met before in freestyle tournaments," Joyce said. "Most of our matches have been close, but this is the first high school match we have had."

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