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Patriots' Mauger returns to the mats

Published May 27, 2004

Dave Mauger has given up his duties as Pinellas Park girls basketball coach to return to the sport he was more known for at the school - wrestling.

Last week, Mauger turned in his resignation after five years as coach. During his tenure, the program went 73-56 and made the playoffs three times.

"Five years of girls basketball was good enough," Mauger said. "It was time for another change."

That change brings him back to the wrestling program he helped turn into a power. Mauger coached wrestling 29 years (16 at Dixie Hollins and 13 at Pinellas Park) and has 335 wins, a county record.

It was a surprising move considering Mauger previously had said he would call it quits once he gave up girls basketball. But the lure of wrestling was too strong.

"I'm going to try to stay two years with wrestling," Mauger said. "I really like the program."

In fact, the only reason Mauger left wrestling was so he could be close to his daughters, Kristin and Lauren, who both played basketball. Lauren, the youngest, graduated this season. That left Mauger wanting a new challenge.

He takes over a program looking for stability. When Mauger left wrestling in 1999, longtime assistant coach Scott Stern took his place. But Stern went on to coach at Clearwater Central Catholic in November and the school has been trying to find a permanent replacement.

Walt Allison, a longtime referee and former coach, took the job for one year to give the administration time to find someone long term. He resigned shortly after the state tournament in February.

"I wasn't pushed into this or anything," Mauger said. "I wanted to come back. I look forward to getting out there and teaching kids how to wrestle again."

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