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Seven Leopards headed to state

CLASS A: Hernando finishes second to Sebastian River, but a large contingent moves on.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2003

WABASSO -- Hernando, ranked No. 5 in the state, was hoping for a region title after sending 13 wrestlers to the meet. But the Leopards were edged by No. 4 Sebastian River 143-133. Hernando will still be sending the most wrestlers to state. Seven will make the trip this week to the Lakeland Center.

"We had a lot of real close matches in the semifinals and that's where you get a lot of points," Hernando coach Matt Smith said. "We had one match where we lost with seven seconds to go and we had another one up 4-1 going into the third period, so we had our opportunities."

Billy Combs (35-5) scored a 16-5 major decision over Sebastian Rivers' Eric Luke to win the 135-pound class. He described his match as "easy and quick." Combs will be joined at state by teammates Chris Malvesti (130), Stephen Pritz (140), Charles Combs (152), Addison Chipoletti (171), Thomas Lyle (189) and Windham Rotunda (275).

Gulf finished third with 122.5 points, and Edward Pospisil (38-3) won the 103-pound class with a 5-0 decision over Crystal River's Roderick Sparks. Also earning a state berth were teammates Andrew Mendonca (171), Timothy Tracy (189) and Cameron Neptune (275).

Zephyrhills, the only other area team to finish in the top 10, was fifth with 107.5. In the 145-pound championship match, Douglas Burden escaped with a 5-4 decision against Alex Cohen from Rockledge.

"I like close matches," said Burden, who improved to 40-2. "I like to keep standing on my feet and I know when it comes to the end I'm going to be the one that comes out on top."

The Bulldogs will also be sending Joshua Calhoun (103), Nicholas Spine (119) and Shane Hand (275).

Hudson got one of the best matches of the day from heavyweight Walter Truzack. After losing to Hand, the defending state champ, five times this season, Truzack pulled out a 5-3 decision.

"I'm so happy, I've been working the whole year to beat him," said Truzack (35-5). "Every match has been tough, two points, three points."

Also earning a state berth for Hudson was Timothy Bentley (160).

Pasco's Tanner Orr (25-2) captured the 152-pound title thanks to a 2-0 decision over Cocoa Beach's Jamie Cross, but credited his opponent.

"He's a great kid and an awesome wrestler," Orr said. "I got on him the last couple seconds and got my points and won."

Devon Bryant (145) also advanced for Pasco.

Other area state qualifiers include: Wesley Chapel's William Zeranski (125), Lecanto's Cole Heitt (112), Crystal River's Sparks (103) and Brady Pratt (160).

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