Rams, Pirates focus of SAC meet

Published March 28, 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY - All the testosterone you can handle is headed to River Ridge this afternoon at 3:30 for the boys Sunshine Athletic Conference meet.

This is the only time all of Pasco County's teams will compete, making each conference title a serious badge of honor.

This also marks the first meeting of county powers Pasco and Ridgewood, each hyped as a house of muscle willing to take on anyone. It's their only meeting of the year.

Two keys battles should be in the 183-pound class featuring Pasco's Todd Jeter and Ridgewood's Charlie Minichino, among others. Another fascinating battle should feature heavyweights James Knox of Pasco and the Rams' monster, Josh Curtis.

How the meet shakes down could come down to numbers with scoring going seven points for first place followed by five, four, three, two and one.

Pasco coach Dave Gaffney has all the confidence when it comes to his top lifters competing for first-place ribbons. But three of those guys, including Jeter and Knox, left him disappointed after a qualifying meet last week.

Jeter started his bench too high and couldn't register a lift of 360 pounds. Knox and 219-pounder Matt Lemon were off by 5 pounds each.

"We didn't have a real good day," Gaffney said. "I'm hoping they'll come around."

Jeter's failed lift was out of character for the senior, who holds a pair of school records. Gaffney attributes the mishap to overconfidence.

"I think he learned his lesson," Gaffney said. "I wouldn't have let him start that high if it was the only one, but we have another qualifying meet next week."

Then there's concern his less experienced lifters won't be able to match Ridgewood's numbers.

"We have a full team but other than my No. 1s they're not that good," Gaffney said. "We could win five or six weight classes and still end up second. That's what happened in Sebring."

Ridgewood coach Chris Taylor seemed to agree.

"We know Pasco's going to be pretty tough," Taylor said. "They have some quality lifters. We have to go in and compete."

The Rams come in having completed their fourth season without a dual-match loss.

Ridgewood differs from Pasco in the sense there is no one or two lifters who dominate; instead there is a roster full of quality lifters who compete for crucial scoring.

"I know he has four or five kids that can win their weight class," Taylor said. "Our team consists of a lot of kids who won't win their weight class, but will score pretty high."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 727 580-5315.