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Key victories lift Panthers

By CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001


LECANTO -- As is the case in most close meets, Wednesday's dual between Crystal River and Lecanto came down to the final class, where Matt Hinman pinned Steven Brainard, sealing a 36-32 win for the Pirates.

But if you want to know how Crystal River really won, look no further than the 119-, 125- and 130-pound classes.

Jimmy Rodriguez, Mike Duca and Harold Skidmore represent the strength of Lecanto, and those three classes are where the Panthers had to score big.

It also is where the Pirates (13-2) pulled off their biggest coup as senior A.J. Davis got a 4-2 win over Duca at 125.

"We knew they would come at us in those classes," Pirates coach Bill Tovine said. "We've been working with A.J., working on some moves we thought would help him out in his match tonight. And to his credit, he's been working hard in practice. And it paid off tonight."

"It felt good," Davis said. "I've been working hard, and I really wanted it. I know we both wanted it a lot, and he won the last two. I knew it would be close, and he's real quick. I just had to stick with him and tried not to let him shoot on me."

While not as crucial, Brian McErlain's performance in an 11-3 loss to Skidmore also was a contributing factor.

With Lecanto forfeiting three weight classes from 145 to 160, the Panthers (10-8) needed a pin to build momentum.

Though Skidmore came close several times, McErlain managed to hold him off, and that ultimately cost the Panthers two valuable points.

Wins from Brady Pratt and Barrett Hogan at 135 and 140 combined with the three forfeits gave Crystal River a 30-20 lead entering 171, where Terrance Hollis scored a 10-8 overtime victory over Sam Force to pull Lecanto within seven. Wins by Billy Simmons and Ishmael Brown at 189 and 215 gave Lecanto a two-point lead, but Hinman's pin sealed the victory for the Pirates.

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