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Three area wrestlers win titles

Matt Booker, Gerard DeCristofaro and Tye Reedy are the North Suncoast's only state champions.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001


LAKELAND -- In match after match through Saturday night's state finals, the North Suncoast's best gold medal hopefuls found that only seconds separated victory from defeat.

Three state champions always will cherish those seconds. Five silver-medal winners were left to wonder what could have been.

Springstead 135-pounder Matt Booker and 140-pounder Gerard DeCristofaro earned the storied Eagles' program two more state championship medals. Pasco 189-pounder Tye Reedy earned his in heroic fashion, shaking off a separated left shoulder to earn his long-awaited state title at the Lakeland Center.

"It's the best feeling in the world," DeCristofaro said.

DeCristofaro defeated Jacksonville Bartram Trail's Herman Klinger 7-3 in the 140 Class A final, scoring a takedown with 22 seconds left to ensure victory. Booker held onto for a 7-5 win against Fernandina Beach's Rudy Leming.

"I love Springstead, I love the coaches, I love my teammates," Booker said. "I wouldn't trade it for any team in the state."

In the 189 Class A final, Reedy's left shoulder popped out 1:16 into the match. But he had the trainers pop it back in and went on to earn a 7-4 win over Immokalee's Ovince Saintpreux. Reedy won the silver last season, and standing in the center mat, as he raised his arms in triumph, he popped his shoulder out again.

"I basically won it with one shoulder," he said.

The heartbreaker of the night? Choose from these Class A runners-up: Lecanto 130-pounder Harold Skidmore, Pasco 145-pounder Brad Alford, Springstead 171-pounder Steve Garofano, Hernando 160-pounder Drew Innes or Gulf 140-pounder Davin Spaulding.

Skidmore led Miami Belen Jesuit's Ivan Enriquez 10-7 with 11 seconds left. But Enriquez scored an escape and a takedown to tie it 10-10 and send it into overtime, where he scored a two-point takedown with 1:17 left to win it 12-10.

Skidmore, who also won the silver last season, was devastated afterward.

"I feel like I won that match," he said, "and so did everyone else who saw it. They took three takedowns away from me.

"I guess I didn't push the way I needed to in overtime."

Pirate coach Mark DeAugustino called Alford the "state's best kept secret" entering the match, and Alford proved it with an impressive run to the final. But then Alford took a last-second 9-7 loss to Jacksonville University Christian's Mark McKever in the final.

Alford scored an escape with 28 seconds left to tie it 7-7. But McKever scored a takedown with no time left to win the title.

Garofano lost 3-2 to Jacksonville University Christian's Jeremy Mosley, who scored a takedown with 9 seconds left to win the 171 Class A title. Gulf's Spaulding lost to Brandon's David Emch 11-6 in the 140 final in Class 2A, and Hernando's Innes fell 4-1 to Lemon Bay's Jason Rubeg in the 160 Class A final.

"It was tough," Innes said. "I'm disappointed in myself."

Leopards coach Matt Smith corrected him: "Don't be."

Land O'Lakes 189-pounder Jimmy Tuttle overcame the flu and Brandon's Nick Ferrario to clinch third place in 2A and give Gators coach Ed Goodpaster a victory in the last match of his career. Goodpaster is retiring this season after a career that spanned 32 years and five decades. Goodpaster was honored by the PA announcer and received an ovation from the crowd.

"I'm relieved. I really am," Goodpaster said after his last time in the corner. "There's a lot of pressure here. I think coaching is a young man's game."

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