LAKELAND - Sure, Ridgewood's Matt and Billy Bullwinkel are competitive, but they also seek to remain absolutely even. Ideally, their careers will end Saturday with state titles.
The twins took one step closer to that goal with Class 2A victories the first day at the Lakeland Center. Billy recorded a technical fall in his opening-round bout at 125. Matt followed with a major decision at 130.
By cruising through the preliminaries, the Bullwinkels have combined for 100 wins.
Now comes the hard part, at least for Billy.
He is in the same weight class as Brandon junior Cesar Grajales, a two-time state champion and three-time finalist. If Billy gets through his quarterfinal bout with Fort Pierce's Craig Masters, he could face Grajales in the semifinals.
"Cesar has been around forever and we know what he's about," Rams coach Vinnie Lowe said. "But Billy has to get past his quarterfinal bout first."
Matt has a clearer path. His only obstacle could come from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas' Sam Patacsil in a possible semifinal bout.
TOP-RANKED: Hernando, ranked No. 4 in Class A by Floridakids.us, scored 10 points and is in ninth place, highest among North Suncoast schools.
Five of the Leopards' six state qualifiers won their preliminary bouts on Thursday. They were: Brandyn Kuhn (112), Charley Combs (145), David Pritz (160), Addison Chipoletti (171) and Windham Rotunda (275).
Chipoletti, last year's state champion at 171 and 44-1 this season, headlined Hernando's contingent. By placing first at the region meet, he has a favorable draw, opening with Brian Rolle, an 18-8 freshman from Immokalee. Chipoletti recored a technical fall. Everyone else won by decision.
REPRESENTING: Lecanto's Cole Heitt (125) and Crystal River's Seth Metz (171) represent Citrus County's best hopes of winning a state title.
In fact, they're the only hope.
Both won in the preliminaries and are the last remaining from the county in the winners' bracket.