© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003
TAMPA -- Considering the force and success of Brandon this season, Sickles gave it a challenge before yielding. Entering the finals of the Class 2A, District 7 meet, Brandon led the Gryphons by only 37 points.
However, with all 14 Eagles in the finals and Sickles with only nine, the odds were not in Sickles' favor. And Brandon won 11 of the 14 titles to Sickles' two to win the meet with 360 points. Sickles followed with 260.
Durant was third with 180, followed by Plant 1391/2, Armwood 115, Alonso 90 and King 65.
"We don't have too many options left at this point of the season but to train hard and move ahead for the next two weeks," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "I don't know what more I could ask of my kids. There are a couple of things we will work on next week, but I hope they do as well in the regional tournament as they did in districts. Their noses are down, and they are going forward. That is all I can ask."
Winning titles for Brandon were Alejandro Figueroa (103 pounds), John Santana (112), Cesar Grajales (119), Ryan Joyce (130), Eddie Hutchinson (135), Tommy Hutchinson (140), David Craig (145), Rocky Cozart (152), Matt Juncal (189), Rashard Goff (215) and Keith Simmons (275).
Other county champions were Stan Liberatore (125) and Omar Mubaidin (160) of Sickles and Derek Beaty (160) of Durant.
Although the Gryphons never truly threatened the Eagles, they made a good showing by sending all 14 wrestlers to region. "Our big goal was to get as many through to regionals as we could, and we did well," Sickles coach Terry Brockland said. "I was happy with everybody's effort. Now we just have to keep up the intensity and work hard for the next two weeks."
TAMPA -- Pinellas Park isn't about to give up its stranglehold on the title just yet. The Patriots took home their third straight championship in convincing fashion, beating second-place St. Petersburg by 50 points and third-place Chamberlain by 71.
Even with that kind of success, Pinellas Park is aware its accomplishments at Chamberlain were only a small part of a larger picture.
"(Coach Scott Stern) is just trying to motivate us, keep us on track because this is such a small picture," said Carlton Gammons, one of five champions for the Patriots. "We're trying to win the region this year."
The Patriots' dominance started early when Felipe Quiroz claimed the title at 105 pounds with a 14-4 decision over Chamberlain's Brian Banjay.
Gammons' bout at 135 was the signature piece for the Patriots' superiority. Gammons easily won the match, taking a 14-0 lead on Chamberlain's Ricardo Topham before Topham claimed his first point late in the third period. Gammons won the match by technical fall 16-1 to win his third straight district title, matching his team's feat, and 33rd match of the year.
"I was kind of hoping for the pin, but it didn't come along so I just went for the tech," Gammons said. "I pinned him earlier in the year when I wrestled him."
Gammons is now 33-2 this season with 97 career victories.
Pinellas Park slammed the door shut on the competition with wins in the final three weight classes (190, 215 and heavyweight). Jeremiah Johnson started the string with a pin 1 minute, 3 seconds into the second period against Gaither's Austin Blitch. Greg Anderson took the 215-pound crown with an 8-5 win over Chamberlain's John Thomas.
Thomas appeared to break the 5-all tie, but Anderson was awarded an injury timeout first and went on to score three points in the final 40 seconds.
Travis Youngs closed out the meet with a pin in 50 seconds of Palm Harbor's Austin Degonzague in the heavyweight final.
Chamberlain claimed third place in large part thanks to Rudy Mayoz, the lone Hillsborough County winner. Competing at 160, Mayoz pinned Palm Harbor's Andy Rattner 18 seconds into the second period.
"I give all my credit to coach (Jeff) Duncan," Mayoz said. "He's my inspiration in practice every day, keeping my intensity up. And one of the kids I always practice with, T.J. (White), if it wasn't for his intensity, I wouldn't have this success."
-- ANTHONY GAGLIANO
PLANT CITY -- No one questioned the strength of Venice, Bradenton Manatee and Bloomingdale entering the Class 3A, District 6 tournament. And after the three teams took the top three places and combined for 12 of 14 individual championships, everyone began to look ahead to next week.
Venice was the most impressive, rolling up 203 points to win as five Indians won individual titles. Manatee was second at 162 followed by defending champion Bloomingdale with 143. The Bulls, however, had one more individual champion than Manatee with four and qualified nine wrestlers for the region meet. "We have three of the top 10 teams in the state in our district," Bloomingdale coach Donny Peek said. "I knew it would be tough. I was hoping to get 11 into regional, but I'm happy with nine."
No team could match Venice's strength. The Indians, who have six returning state qualifiers from last season, built a 271/2-point lead entering the consolation finals and put nine into the championship round.
Bloomingdale's four district champions were Nick Perrone (125 pounds), Nick Miles (140), Nick Diaz (160) and Derek Saibi (275). Hillsborough County had one other district winner as Brian Johnson took the 171-pound class to lead Riverview to a fifth-place tie with Sarasota at 64 points.
Riverview has five region qualifiers. Host Plant City advanced six to region and finished seventh with 54 points.
Last year, Venice was second to Bloomingdale in the district.
"We had a lot coming back this year, so I expected us to have a good showing," Venice coach Dan Kelly said. "Now we'll see what happens at region."
Venice and Manatee will send 12 wrestlers to the region tournament. Manatee finished with three district champions and a tournament-high four winners in the consolation finals.
-- DON JENSEN