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Manatee's depth prevails

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002


TARPON SPRINGS -- The drama might have ended early, but that didn't affect the heated competition in the finals Saturday of the East Lake Invitational.

After Manatee built a large lead during the preliminary and consolation rounds, Venice, Ocala Forest and host East Lake staged brief rallies before the Hurricanes held on to win.

Manatee, which had only three first-place finishes, used solid depth, capturing two second-place and fourth-place finishes, to outdistance Venice 176-170. The host Eagles got outstanding performances from Josh Prior (125 pounds) and Jimmy Myers (189) to score 132.5 points for third. Gaither placed 12th with 60 points and Berkeley Prep was 16th with 28.

Venice had the most individual champions, dominating the lower weights with victories at 103, 112, 119 and 130 pounds. The four wins helped the Indians overcome a 14-point deficit to pull within six.

Still, East Lake had two of the stronger showings of the night when Prior took a 10-2 major decision against Gaither's Joel Medgebow and Myers took a 6-3 decision against Tom Tracy from Gulf.

Osceola's Dan Smalley had one of the few pins in the finals, getting a three-count against Matt Miller of Manatee in 3 minutes, 58 seconds.

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