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Pinellas County wrestling preview

Taylor Cooper, top, and Dixie Hollins look to be in the best position to win the 2A-10 district this week.

LARA CERRI | Times (2008)

Taylor Cooper, top, and Dixie Hollins look to be in the best position to win the 2A-10 district this week.

Last season, Northside Christian's Dillon Dennis broke through with his first state title.

The individual championship ended years of frustration, not just for himself, but for Pinellas County as well. Dennis' victory in the 140-pound division of the Class A tournament was the county's first individual state title since 2004.

It has been even longer since a county program won a team title at state. Countryside was the last to do it in 1990.

The Mustangs appear to have the best shot of ending that streak, even without Dennis, who has graduated.

Northside Christian has one of the toughest lineups in the lower weights. Dennis' younger brothers, Dalton and Dryden, returned this season after top-six finishes at state a year ago. And the Mustangs' lineup was bolstered with the addition of Brian Travis, who transferred from St. Petersburg Catholic.

But will it be enough to grab a team title?

"It will be tough, but anything is possible," Northside coach Chris Wilmington said. "Everyone will have to wrestle their best."

The first step toward that goal comes this week with the start of district tournaments.

The Mustangs, who won team titles at the Jerry Mita Invitational and the Bay Conference meet, will be among the contenders on the strength of a few individual stars. But their numbers were hurt with the loss of Patrick Tomlin, a heavyweight who broke his ankle a few weeks ago.

"Nothing is going to be easy," Wilmington said. "But we should be in the mix, especially at districts and regionals."

District wrestling

Admission: Two sessions, $5 per session; one session $6.

At stake: The top four wrestlers from each district advance to region.

3A-7 at Palm Harbor University

When: Saturday. First round, 10 a.m.; finals, 6 p.m.

Teams: Chamberlain, Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Gaither, Northeast, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg

Outlook: The host Hurricanes, who beat Countryside by 41/2 points for the district title last year, appear ready for another run at a team title. PHU is strong in the middle to upper weights, and are led by Scott Santangelo, a state qualifier who recently went 9-0 at the Falcon Duals. Countryside, East Lake, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg also will be in the mix.

2A-10 at Dixie Hollins

When: Friday. First round, 10 a.m.; finals, 6 p.m.

Teams: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Jefferson, Largo, Leto, Osceola

Outlook: The host Rebels are in a good position to win, especially after their performance at the St. Petersburg City Championships two weeks ago, when they won the team title for the third straight season. Dixie Hollins has battled through injuries and is starting to come together with a balanced lineup, led by Dana Harrington, Taylor Cooper and Shaq Adams. The toughest challenger will be Osceola, which has fared well all season and wrestled tough against Dunedin this month. 2A-8 at Sunlake

When: Saturday. First round, 10 a.m., continuing throughout the day.

Teams: Dunedin, Mitchell, River Ridge, Sunlake, Tarpon Springs, Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills

Outlook: With Springstead moving into another district, the Falcons have a clearer path to a district team title. Dunedin has been the most consistent team in the county, with titles at the East Lake Invitational and Falcon Duals and some high finishes in a few other events. The top wrestlers for Dunedin include Jeremy Goodloe and Luis Agramonte.

A-10 at Indian Rocks Christian

When: Thursday. First round, 2 p.m., continuing throughout the day.

Teams: Admiral Farragut, Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Lakewood, Northside Christian, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic

Outlook: The Mustangs cruised to a title at the Bay Conference meet three weeks ago. But that's hardly an indication of how well Northside will do in the district considering the conference included just two other teams. Northside's lineup is strong, particularly in the lower weights. The trouble is the Mustangs only have 11 wrestlers competing, and teams such as Clearwater Central Catholic and Robinson will have full lineups. That's tough to overcome, as evidenced by Northside's fourth-place finish last year.

Pinellas County wrestling preview 01/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 30, 2010 11:17pm]

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