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By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001
LAND O'LAKES -- The poll had spoken.
FloridaKids.net predicted Countryside, ranked 19th in its poll of the state's top 25 teams, would win Saturday night's Class 2A, District 9 tournament.
That must make No. 25 Land O'Lakes' title victory an upset of sorts.
"We were the underdogs?" wondered Gators heavyweight and district champion Jason Carpenter.
It was Land O'Lakes' first championship in six seasons -- a feat that became possible when traditional roadblock Springstead was dropped a classification.
Pasco County sent 38 wrestlers to next week's Class 2A, Region 2 tourney at Countryside, setting up a re-match of Saturday's top finishers.
Land O'Lakes scored 204.5 points to earn the district title over Countryside, 161.5. Hudson finished fourth with 110, edging fifth-place Ridgewood's 109.5.
State champion Robb Philippus started his title defense with a pin to give Hudson a title at 215 pounds.
One of the most highly-anticipated matches was the 140-pound final: Land O'Lakes' Ron Crotty vs. Gulf's Davin Spaulding, a state place-winner from Kansas who moved to Florida and recently became eligible. Spaulding won it 2-1 despite a last-second flurry of moves by Crotty.
Land O'Lakes' Jimmy Tuttle (189) won the day's fastest district championship with a 53-second pin. The Gators' Derek Schiffer won at 125, as did Paul Yarbrough (130) and Carpenter (275).
Chris Day (103), Chris Bowen (152), Matt Embry (215) and Crotty (140) took second. Blake Coen (145) and Chris Peterson (160) finished third, and Steve Pruden (171) was fourth. Dana Kearney, the first girls state champion in Pasco County history, was fourth at 112.
Hudson was led by Philippus' title at 215 and Dana Bentley's win at 171. Luke Jubran (112) and Albert Mesquita (125) took second. Kipper Connell Jr. (135), Zenon Hererra (152) and Eric Zul (189) placed third. Walter Truzack (275) finished fourth.
Ridgewood's Anthony DeSantis won at 145. Bobby Shields (160), Pete Weinstein (189) and Rudy Arce (275) took second. Jon Emminger (171), Bill Bullwinkel (112) and Sean Byrne (140) finished third. Keith Coghlin (119), Matt Bullwinkel (125) and Jason Krupinski (215) were fourth.
Gulf's Harold Payne won the Bucs a district title at 160, Keith Delgado (119) took third and Steve Manzione (103) and Austin Ryder (135) finished fourth.