By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001
LAND O'LAKES -- Ron Crotty is the Sunshine Athletic Conference Co-Wrestler of the Year for reasons both on and off the mat.
On the mat, Crotty overcame an injury-shortened junior year to advance to his first state tournament where he finished fourth in Class 2A in the 140-pound division. The senior advanced even though the late-season transfer of Kansas' Davin Spaulding to Gulf made his weight class much more difficult.
Off the mat, Crotty was voted in by coaches who wanted to reward a conference champion. Because to the majority of county coaches, the SAC tournament is one of the most important criteria in choosing post-season honors.
But Tye Reedy, Pasco's 189-pound Class A state champion, wasn't at the SAC meet because he attended a state 4-H meeting. In fact, Pasco coach Mark DeAugustino held most of the top Pirates out of the tournament anyway, in part to protest his displeasure with the format. It is an ongoing dispute. The coaches split the difference, honoring the obvious choice, Reedy, the county's lone state champ who did not compete at the SAC tournament, and the not so obvious choice, Crotty, who fell short of state gold but turned in an impressive performance to win a SAC title.
"It was a very big surprise," Crotty said. "I thought Tye was a great wrestler. I'm happy to share it with him."
His coach, Ed Goodpaster, was pleasantly surprised as well.
"He came back from those injuries to dominate the conference, and everybody was very impressed with that," Goodpaster said. "I was a little surprised that he was the one that they chose. He certainly earned it on the basis of what he did this year."
Crotty has overcome much. As a junior, he landed on his head during a match, lost consciousness and had to be flown to a hospital. He returned to the team only to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee a week before districts.
"After all the stuff I went through, never having gone to regionals, never having gone to states, I wanted to make a statement," Crotty said. "My goal wasn't to be a state champ, my goal was just to finish the season in one piece."