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By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- Northeast held the St. Petersburg City Championships in its new gym, but that did not help the Vikings improve upon their finish.
They finished second.
For the fifth time in the tournament's six-year existence, Northeast was the runner-up. St. Petersburg defended its city title, scoring 171 points to edge the Vikings by nine points. Particularly frustrating for Northeast was it had four champions and two runners-up yet was unable to claim the title.
"Being a bridesmaid (stinks)," Vikings coach Bill Dudley said.
Northeast's fortune might change soon, though.
Opposing coaches are protesting the Green Devils' title. They are questioning the minimum certified weight of St. Petersburg's Patrick Long, who won the 130-pound class. Long's minimum weight class was 130 pounds on Jan. 11, the final day to be certified by a physician.
Under Florida High School Activities Association rules, a wrestler cannot weigh in two or more weight classes above his/her physician's certified weight, which coaches say Long did.
That would make Long have to recertify at the next highest weight class and, therefore, make him ineligible at 130 pounds.
Green Devils coach Sam Pruitt was unable to provide documentation that proved otherwise Saturday night.
The protest will go to the state, and there most likely will be a ruling next week.
If the protest is valid, Northeast would win the tournament and St. Petersburg would fall to third.
Coincidentally, Long used to wrestle for Northeast before coming to St. Petersburg.
"I have nothing against the kid," Dudley said.
"I just think coaches should not be allowed to keep bending the rules."
The actual wrestling was just as intense.
Going into the finals, the Green Devils held a 16-point lead over the Vikings and got wins by Long, Wesley Springer (160 pounds) and Brian Spurgeon (189) to hold onto first.
Jesse Floyd (125), Donte Whiting (140), Thimios Kyriazis (145) and Danny Fanning (152) won in the finals for Northeast.
Dixie Hollins took third and had two champions -- Shawn Fleetwood (112) and Charlie Thompson (119).
Thompson, the conference champion, was voted tournament MVP. He beat Gibbs' Jason Plaomatos in the final.
Other tournament winners were Northside Christian's Cesar Grajales (103), Gibbs' Donterio Thompson (135), Lakewood's Dale Darr (171), Northside Christian's Jimmy Hester (215) and Gibbs' Dustin Keseleski (275).