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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
LITHIA - Under first-year coach Erik Brungot, Newsome is becoming another successful east county program.
The Wolves have been led by two seniors, Nick Weaver (215 pounds) and Larry Ettore (189), who enter the region tournament at 23-4 after winning district titles last week.
"Every high school wrestler has the dream of winning a state championship, and I am no different," Weaver said. "I didn't get close last year, and the district title was the first tournament I have ever won.
"Larry and I are friends and have been working hard for a long time to get to this point."
Weaver began wrestling in youth leagues seven years ago in Delaware and for four years, including as a sophomore, competed in Indiana. The family moved to Lithia just before his junior year. But because of an ankle injury sustained during football season a week before wrestling practice, he missed his entire junior season.
Ettore grew up familiar with the sport because his dad wrestling in high school and college. But his first year of competing was not until as a freshman at Durant.
"Once I committed to wrestle, my dad started working with me and has taught me a lot. But he never tried to force me into the sport," Ettore said. "My dad is a retired Marine officer, and he has trained me to understand the discipline required to excel on the mats."
Most heavier athletes (189-275 pounds) use wrestling to keep in shape for football. They have little technical skills and rely mostly on strength.
Weaver and Ettore, though, consider football secondary. Weaver learned his technique while wrestling at smaller weights. Ettore learned from his dad.
"Larry and Nick both are skilled wrestlers and good leaders for our younger kids," Newsome coach Erik Brungot said. "Larry does excellent from the down position, and both can shoot and take down opponents. They are always optimistic and seem to be peaking at the right time."
Both also remain focused on academics. They take honors courses and plan to go to college. Ettore already has enrolled at USF. He plans to work for his father's home remodeling company and help coach Newsome next fall. For now, it's about the state tournament.
"If my season ends (today), I have no regrets," Ettore said. "Wrestling has taught me self-discipline and helped me grow into manhood. I feel I have a shot at qualifying for the state championships. And when there, anything can happen."
SCHEDULE: Today - Noon, first round through quarterfinals, wrestlebacks (first and second round). Saturday - 10 a.m., semifinals, wrestlebacks (third and fourth round); 6, consolations; 7:30, finals.
ADMISSION: $6 per session.
CLASS 3A, REGION 2
WHERE: East Lake.
THE SKINNY: Durant is favored but will be challenged by Bloomingdale, Lakeland, Countryside and East Lake.
CLASS 2A, REGION 2
WHERE: Lakeland Lake Gibson.
THE SKINNY: With all 14 wrestlers, including two-time state champion Sean Joyce (145) and three-time state champion David Craig, Brandon, as usual, is the team to beat. Lake Gibson and St. Cloud likely will battle for second. Watch out for Middleton.
CLASS A, REGION 3
WHERE: Naples Golden Gate.
THE SKINNY: Jesuit, Naples Palmetto Ridge and Fort Myers Riverdale are the favorites. Newsome should earn points in the heavier classes and Temple Heights in the lighter classes.