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Hand grabs second title

The Zephyrhills heavyweight wins a narrow decision, while the Hernando team finishes in second place.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003

LAKELAND -- Defending heavyweight state champion Shane Hand of Zephyrhills sketched out a tattoo recently to complement the one on his other tricep that reads "2002 State Champ." During Saturday's Class A finals, Hand took an 8-7 decision against Cardinal Gibbons' Leon Herrington to earn another trip to the tattoo parlor.

"It's going to be two standing Bulldogs on their hind legs with their paws pumped up in front and leaning back to back," Hand said. "Then, "Back to Back State Champions." all color."

Hand, who was a combined 87-2 this year and last, beat Herrington in last season's title match.

The opposite of Hand was Hernando's Addison Chipoletti, who had a .500 record a year ago but won the 171-pound title on Saturday. The sophomore scored a 10-8 decision against Jason Abel of University Christian, and said champions are made, not born.

"I wanted to go somewhere in the sport," Chipoletti said. "I worked hard and now I'm a champion. It feels good and I can't wait for next year."

Hernando teammate Charley Combs lost in the 152-pound class, as Pasco's Tanner Orr claimed the championship with a 5-4 decision. The two had split in their previous two meetings, each winning by a mere point.

"He's a great wrestler," said Orr, 28-2. Orr took third in state as a sophomore and second last season.

Hernando coach Matt Smith said Combs (37-4) had been icing his right ankle for two days and had problems with it in the match, but made no excuses.

"Charley wrestled tough, he got the lead and took him down in the first period and they ended up giving him a point on cautions," Smith said. "He had opportunities, but he had a good tournament."

Hernando finished second in the Class A team standings to Cardinal Gibbons, 144-78.50. It was the best finish ever for the Leopards, whose previous best was seventh.

Other area runners-up were happy with their performances.

Wesley Chapel's William Zeranski lost a 3-0 decision to eighth-grader Jesse Robbins of Cocoa Beach at the 125-pound class. Zeranski, who finished 38-5, was the first Wildcat in any sport to reach the state final.

"Billy was aggressive and he was doing what he needed to do to beat him," said coach Charlie Helm. Land O' Lakes senior Chris Bowen competed in the 2A 171-pound class and lost an 8-6 decision to Nick Davis of Gainesville. "When I went into it, I was confident I had a chance to win," Bowen said. "I got that first takedown and I was so pumped up. ... But it's still disappointing."

Brady Pratt was the first Citrus County wrestler to make it to the state finals since 1998, and the Crystal River senior completed a 42-7 season with a second-place finish at 160. Pratt lost a 6-1 decision to Jon Klinger of Bartram Trail in a match in which he needed two blood timeouts.

"He fought through it well and had a great tournament," said Pirates coach Bill Tovine. "He came here with just expectations to go out and compete and he went way beyond what he thought he was going to do."

Earning third place were Gulf's Edward Pospisil (103), Hernando's Billy Combs (135) and Sergio Matos of Central (145, Class 2A). Fourth-place finishers were Zephyrhills' Nicholas Spine (119) and Hudson's Walter Truzack (275).

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