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Host Vikings seek city title


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2001

In the five years Northeast coach Bill Dudley has held the St. Petersburg City Championships, he has never won.

"It has been very frustrating not to win, to put it mildly," he said.

For the first four seasons, the title went to Dixie Hollins. Last year, St. Petersburg broke the streak. This season, it could be the Vikings' turn.

For starters, Northeast has confidence after winning the Mustang Invitational in December and a dual tournament at St. Petersburg Catholic earlier this month. Those tournament titles were the first the Vikings have won in more than a decade.

But winning isn't the only factor Northeast has going for it. It seems the planets have aligned nicely when you consider the despair some other teams are in.

Dixie Hollins lost several wrestlers to grades this week, including standout Chris Feinberg.

Boca Ciega had several wrestlers quit before a dual tournament in December.

And St. Petersburg is much younger after losing several starters from last season to graduation.

Meanwhile, Northeast is cruising along just fine. The Vikings have lost no wrestlers to grades, and the team is full of veterans. The key wrestlers are Jesse Floyd (119), Thimios Kyriazis (145), Donte Whiting (152), Danny Fanning (160) and Alex Bayley (189).

"We should be in contention, but who knows?" Dudley said. "There are a lot of variables to winning it."

The tournament starts Saturday at 11 a.m. and runs non-stop. Dudley said he expects the consolations to start around 4 p.m. and the finals at 5. Admission is $4.

PLAYING THE HEAVY: It should be easy to predict who will win the heavyweight title at the St. Petersburg City Championships.

Just pick anyone from Gibbs.

After all, it is the only school to win the weight class all five years.

Two-time state champion Willie Comerford won the title in 1996 and '97, David Jackson won in '98 and Dustin Keseleski won in '99 and 2000.

Keseleski has a chance to three-peat provided he shows up. He did not participate at the Pinellas County Athletic Conference tournament two weeks ago because of a football commitment, but he should be in attendance this weekend.

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