By Times Staff Writers
Published February 22, 2004
PUNTA GORDA - Ridgewood coach Vinny Lowe said the goal was to have his six district champions advance to the state tournament, a tough task considering the Rams were competing two top-ranked teams, Countryside and Venice.
Faced with tough draws throughout, Ridgewood watched its numbers dwindle Saturday and ended up with three place-winners - Billy Bullwinkle (125 pounds), Matt Bullwinkle (130) and Keith Coghlan (140).
The Bullwinkle twins, who are a combined 98-2, each won region titles with technical falls. Coughlin advanced with a fourth-place finish.
"I'm happy for the guys that made it," Lowe said. "We pretty much counted on Billy and Matt being there. ... It's definitely a tough region and we had some rough pairings."
The two-day tournament started well for the Rams as six made it to the semifinals. From there, things went downhill. Ridgewood went 2-4 in those bouts, both wins coming from the Bullwinkles.
Countryside, ranked No.2 in all classes by Floridakids.us, won the region, scoring 241.5 points to edge No.3 Venice by seven.
The Rams finished fourth with 97 points and were one of the few teams to make noise on a quiet day for the North Suncoast. Hudson's Landon Barabas (152) and Tim Bentley (215) were the only other wrestlers to advance.
- BOB PUTNAM
Chipoletti leads six Leopards to state
Defending state champion Addison Chipoletti placed first at 171 pounds to lead a contingent of six Hernando wrestlers who advanced to state at the Class A region meet Saturday at Green Cove Springs Clay.
Hernando was second, more than 100 points behind Clay. Gulf was third.
Hernando's six state qualifiers tied for second-most in coach Matt Smith's eight seasons. The Leopards advanced seven last season, when they placed second in the state.
"If a couple of things went our way, we would be nine or 10 going to the state tournament," Smith said. "They wrestled hard. Nobody made any excuses. They went after it and did the best they could, so I'm pleased with that."
Charley Combs placed second at 145, losing 2-1 to Clay's Craig Ponchak in double overtime. Heavyweight Windham Rotunda also took second, falling in overtime to defending state champion Cy Wainwright of Clay.
Freshman Brandyn Kuhn (112) and David Pritz (160) each placed third in their weight classes. Jack Duvall was fourth at 215.
Four other Hernando wrestlers narrowly missed qualifying.
Justin Davis (119), Jimmy Russo (125), Michael Combs (140) and Stephen Pritz (152) each came up one match short. Earnest Ellis (130) was two matches away.
"There were a lot of guys I took right down to the wire," Smith said. "Things just didn't work out in their favor."