Wrestling: Focused Cobra one win from title

By Doug Kates, Times Staff Writer
Published February 16, 2008

LAKELAND - Antonio Germano will be the first to admit he didn't take wrestling very serious until this year.

Now the Hudson senior is as serious as it gets. The 160-pounder is one of five North Suncoast wrestlers competing for a state championship today at the Lakeland Center.

"This is all I wanted this season," said Germano (32-2), who was 1-2 at state the past two seasons. "This year I actually came to practice. Last year wasn't like that. It was more goofing off than anything. Football was my thing."

Joining the Cobra in the finals will be Schuyler Swanton of Springstead at 112 pounds, Jesse Graham of Hernando (140), Ray Perez of Pasco (189) and Eric Stroud of Pasco (215).

Graham (46-2) has steadily been climbing the state wrestling ladder. He was 1-2 two years ago and took fifth last year.

"My dream my whole life has been to take first at states," he said. "It's what I want more than anything. I'm happy about making it to the finals, but I want to be proud of myself when I'm done."

Swanton's tournament began with a pair of pins. In the semifinals he decisioned Terry Dawson of Brandon. Swanton is now 35-2.

Pasco has two shots at a state title with Perez (40-3) and Stroud (35-6). Perez faces undefeated Ralph Major of Key West (32-0). Stroud will take on Mike Amadeo of Harmony (41-14).

Also alive in wrestlebacks with 2-1 records are Ridgewood's Dean Stupar; River Ridge's Tyler Fleming and Anthony Biondi; Springstead's Skylar Huff, CJ Cook and Cesar Acosta; Hernando's Daniel Pritz and Nick Pauliot; Hudson's Devinlee Brown and Travis Tindell; Gulf's Jordan Holding and Richard O'Conner; Pasco's Videl Jimenez; Zephyrhills' Nick Hynes; Nature Coast's David Simonson; and Sunlake's Jarrett Baker.