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Late moves decide key matches

Boice's victory under pressure carries Knights

By WAYNE GRUMET

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 11, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- River Ridge's Mark Boice now understands what it's like to wrestle as a heavyweight.

For one match only Wednesday, the lineup for River Ridge's in-school meet at Zephyrhills was juggled to give the students a chance to see a variety of styles. The heavyweight match opened the meet for a change and every weight class was shuffled into a new position.

The 140-pound Boice warmed up knowing he was the final match. When he looked up at the scoreboard, he saw his Knights leading by just four points.

Boice then countered and escaped his way to an 11-6 win over Zephyrhills' Patrick O'Connor to seal River Ridge's 42-35 victory.

River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro didn't put any additional pressure on Boice as he warmed up, but Boice knew what was at stake.

"It was like I was the heavyweight and it was all on me. But it kept me going," Boice said. "I didn't get as tired as quick. It may have something to do with my team pushing me and with our team just barely ahead."

With five matches remaining, River Ridge (4-3) held a 39-11 lead. Zephyrhills coach Kevin Epifanio knew what his team had to do to stay close, regardless of the shuffled lineup.

"I knew we were going to be in a situation where we'd be down 20 points or so at least. I knew we had to win every match from 130 to 152 (with pins) to get it," Epifanio said.

The Bulldogs (10-7) nearly pulled it off.

Ryan Hall (130), Matt Engles (152), Josh Gainey (135) and Doug Burden (145) each won by pins in less than 2:30. The surge cut River Ridge's lead to 39-35.

O'Connor knew he needed that fifth pin and he attacked Boice throughout the final match. Boice just kept racking up points with defensive moves.

"I'm not much on takedowns. I like to counter their takedowns," Boice said. "(O'Connor) definitely played into my style."

River Ridge opened a big lead thanks to wins by 103-pounder Steve Postiglione (injury default) and 215-pounder Nate Way. Way beat Charlie Helm in a close match with a takedown in overtime. Way has now beaten Helm in four of their past six meetings.

Two forfeits and pins from Matt Lee (171), Steve Giarantanno (125) and Jason Cline (160) gave the Knights a 39-11 lead.

Zephyrhills' 275-pounder Shane Hand did open the meet with a big win over Joe Mayo. The two wrestlers were tied at 2 after three periods. Hand surged for the quick pin in overtime.

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