By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001
IMMOKALEE -- For Osceola, district titles are commonplace.
Regional titles are not.
The Warriors have won district titles in four of the past six seasons but were seeking their first regional championship at the Class A, Region 3 tournament Saturday.
Osceola came close, but placed third with 139.5 points, the highest finish among area schools.
Although the Warriors missed out on their elusive title, they did set a school record by having six wrestlers advance to next week's state tournament in Lakeland. They are Josh Langdon (145 pounds), Tony Cianciolo (152), Jeremy Helms (160), T.J. Baxter (171), Brian Burton (189) and Tom Ryan (215). Ryan was the lone regional champion for Osceola.
"We practiced hard all week and I'm real proud of their effort," Warriors coach Ron Spataro said. "We got a lot of kids to advance, which I am happy that we did. I was riding a cloud today. All the guys kept saying, "Coach, are you smiling?' I said, "Yes, I am.' "
Osceola was not the only area school to do well.
Dixie Hollins finished sixth and is sending four wrestlers to state -- Martin Otano (103), Shawn Fleetwood (112), Charlie Thompson (119) and Curtis Chance (275).
Temple Heights relied on its youth to finish eighth. The Eagles had a pair of middle-schoolers -- David Craig, a seventh-grader, and Rocky Cozart, an eighth-grader -- win regional titles. Craig won his at 112 pounds and Cozart at 119.
Another middle-schooler, eighth-grader Cesar Grajales of Northside Christian, won his weight class at 103.
Jesuit finished ninth and Tarpon Springs 10th.
The Spongers had a region champ in Josh Sullivan at 130. Other regional champs from the area were Tampa Catholic's Mike Martinez at 145 and Gibbs' Dusty Keseleski at 275.