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Rookie paces Patriots


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002

PINELLAS PARK -- An exuberant Pinellas Park held onto its lead in the finals of the 10th annual Jerry Mita Invitational and came out on top with 253.5 points.

Kissimmee Osceola, which finished with 211, was second, followed by Sarasota, Bloomingdale, Plant and Chamberlain. Felipe Queiroz, wrestling for the Patriots at 103 pounds, was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler.

Patriots coach Scott Stern couldn't have been more proud.

"Felipe beat a national champion in the semis and he beat a regional champion in the finals, and it's his first year wrestling," Stern said. "It's phenomenal."

The other big moment of the finals was also generated by a Pinellas Park wrestler. Thomas Webster, down 4-10 in the second period of the 171-pound match, staged a dramatic victory as he flipped and pinned Bloomingdale's Maurice James.

"I've never wrestled varsity before," Webster said. "That was my fourth match. I feel awesome right now."

Other county finishes included Largo (eighth), Clearwater (ninth), Dunedin (10th), Northeast (11th) and Boca Ciega (12th).

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