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Vasquez: Loss was 'my match'


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001

BROOKSVILLE -- Perception is a personal thing, especially when a big guy with the devil in his eyes is taking your head down a hat size.

That was the predicament for Central's Bobby Vasquez on Friday in the 189-pound final of the District 7 tournament.

The view was a lot different from above him, where Lecanto's Ishmael Brown was cinching up the final move for a pin -- when the whistle blew suspending action.

"It was an illegal move," said Vasquez, pointing to an inch-long scratch near his right eye socket. "He was putting his forehead against my head and squeezing my head into his. That was my match, but he had me so inflicted in pain I was not worrying about wrestling."

Brown, incensed his pin and first victory in three tries against Vasquez had been prevented, stormed away from the mat, stopped only by Panthers coaches who directed him back into the center.

"He was faking," Brown said. "No, he wasn't hurt. He just does that to catch his breath on injury time. I know because he did the same thing the last time we wrestled."

Brown eventually earned his pin anyway when he rolled Vasquez and sealed his first district title with with two-tenths of a second remaining in the match.

Central coach Alan Solomon, who with other coaches and a trainer attended to the groggy Vasquez during injury time, saw things from a more detached vantage point.

"(Brown) was around (Vasquez's) head," Solomon said. "It was a situation where he got caught, and his neck got snapped to the side. It's a scary thing when you hear your neck go crunch."

PANTHER POWER: Lecanto's overall quality was good enough only to muster a fifth-place finish, but Brown, 112-pounder Jimmy Rodriguez and 1999 state runner-up Harold Skidmore (130) were among the tournament's more impressive individuals.

Rodriguez scored a takedown 12 seconds into overtime to claim a district title and give Lake Weir's Eddie Gonzalez (31-1) his first loss. Skidmore followed with his third championship in three years, overwhelming Hernando's Billy Woods (32-11) by a 14-3 count. Skidmore won at 112 as a sophomore and 119 as a junior.

"It doesn't get any harder or any easier. It just depends on who I wrestle," Skidmore said. "It's just one more step to districts and states."

BUCK UP: Central sophomore Bucky Solomon's path to a district title was a lot less congested than last season, and he took advantage, beating Lake Weir's Mark Deemer 5-0 in the final.

Last year, Solomon -- in a classwith eventual state champ Pat Reili of Hudson and Rodriguez -- finished third in the district.

"I think I've improved my aggressiveness and got a little bit stronger," said Solomon (34-2). "I think if I work harder and wrestle hard I can maybe place ( in the state tournament)."

FINALLY: It took Springstead's Matt Booker three years, but he finally won his first district title, walloping Crystal River's Brady Pratt 13-3 in the 135-pound championship. The junior was thinking more about next week than two years of frustration after improving to 41-1, however.

"I finally did it," said Booker, who finished second in the district last year. "Now I get a better seed in the regionals."

Booker wore down Pratt with a conservative approach. "He was stronger than me and I knew I couldn't muscle him," Booker said. "I didn't want to play his game."

STONE SET IN: Crystal River's Nate Stone entered districts on a mission, one he completed when he upset Springstead's top-seeded Louis Kachiroubas 8-6 in overtime of the 145-pound final.

Stone, second seeded at 25-7, hasn't lost to anyone in the district this season besides Kachiroubas. After beating him twice last year, Stone had dropped a two-point decision to Kachiroubas in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. Kachiroubas nearly pinned Stone as the third period ended, but was taken down with 25.8 seconds left in OT. "I wanted him real bad," Stone said.

Stone got him by getting into superior condition. "I was out of shape before. He wrestled hard with Springstead over the summer, and I was out of shape. But I've been working real hard in practice, and it paid off."

REVENGE, PART II: Hernando's Drew Innes, a two-time runner-up, entered Springstead's gym on a similar crusade -- one he completed at yet another Eagle's expense. Innes (23-3) hadn't lost to anyone but top-seeded Springstead 160-pounder Tim Cook this season, and he exacted revenge with a 9-8 decision in the final.

"It was a battle," Innes said."He had two pins and a two-point win over me and I wanted this one to be different. I was ready to go."

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