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All-American needs to add some weight

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2000

Hudson coach Dana Bentley knew star 103-pounder Pat Rieli was a state contender, and he proved it by winning the Class A state championship this season.

Bentley knew Rieli could be one of the best lightweights in the country, and he proved it by finishing seventh at the 11th annual Senior National High School Championships last weekend, earning All-American status.

So, the question now is, can Rieli wrestle in college?

Bentley believes he can, but it won't get any easier for the Cobra senior.

The problem is Rieli wrestled at 103 pounds throughout most of the season. His only two losses came when he failed to make weight and wrestled at a higher weight class.

But in college, the minimum weight is 125. So Rieli has some work to do.

Not just bulking up on pounds, but bulking up on muscle. Bentley said Rieli has considered taking a season off to condition himself for college.

What is certain is that Rieli isn't done with wrestling.

"We'll play it by ear, see what kinds of things are offered, but he definitely wants to go on and continue (his career)," Bentley said. "He's been doing well about setting goals, short-term goals and long-term goals.

"Taking first at state, going to nationals, now that's met those goals, he's developing more goals all the time. And one of those goals is to get his weight bulked up and get stronger and wrestle at the next level.

"It might wind up that he has to take a year off, he (may wait) until he gets everything in order."

Bentley said what's even more encouraging is how much better Rieli could have done.

"He definitely wasn't pleased with his first match," Bentley said. "I think he was nervous in the new environment and he was down 10-0 and came back and lost 14-13.

"He made two foolish mistakes right away, he wasn't using his head. But then he got his head right back into the match but it's hard when you get down to make up that kind of deficit.

"He did well and it was just a real good experience for him. Now he'll get more serious about finding a school for him."

Rams, Knights breaking out

The River Ridge and Ridgewood girls teams are in the midst of breakthrough seasons despite records on opposite ends of the spectrum. It's all a matter of perspective. The Royal Knights (11-0), who host the Rams today at 3:15, are on the verge of their first unbeaten season.

And while six games below .500 is nothing to brag about in most cases, that indicates progress for Ridgewood (3-9). The Rams won just twice over the previous three seasons.

River Ridge extended its season-long winning streak with Thursday's 5-2 win over Hudson. The Knights' top two players once again came up big with Kerri Goldberg and Sitha Mangipudy breezing to easy victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles and combining for a No. 1 doubles win.

Ridgewood overcame a 2-0 deficit to win its third match Friday, 4-3 over Springstead. Rachel Rauber, Debbie Romer and Catie Mansfield won singles matches with Rauber and Romer breaking a tie by winning in No. 2 doubles.

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