1. Archive

Year of surprise continues for Bass, Osceola // 10 Warriors prepare for regional

Osceola coach Steve Bass didn't plan on winning the Class 3A, District 11 wrestling title. He didn't even expect the team to have a winning record, after losing six wrestlers from a squad that finished 13-2 in 1988-89 and losing one returnee to a football injury. So how does it feel to be toting 10 wrestlers to this weekend's 3A-Region III tournament? Exhilarating. Surprising. And a little scary for the Warriors, district champions for the first time.

"I don't know how we will do at the regionals," said Bass, in his third season at the Warriors' helm. "There is some really tough competition."

But if the Warriors wrestle as well as they did at the District 11 meet, there is a good chance that several will advance to state competition. And as for their chances of duplicating last week's outstanding performance, well, Bass doesn't hold to the "peaking" theory.

"My personal philosophy is that the peak keeps getting bigger, you keep getting better," Bass said. "I don't think you ever reach your potential, especially not in high school. A lot of kids in high school don't even know what their potential is."

Bass was unsure what his team's potential was early on. He knew the Warriors would be good; the question was how good.

The Warriors were young, and they lost 160-pound Norvell Waller (18-5 last season) with ligament damage in his knee. Bass dismissed his 220-pounder midway through the season. From 152 on up, the Warriors have two sophomores and two juniors, and two of that group did not wrestle before this year.

But Osceola had strength in the lower and middle weights - and some surprises.

"Andy Mussen (19-8 at 112) moving here from Michigan was a big help," Bass said, "and if you had told me last year that Rick Braun (119) would be 23-3, I wouldn't have believed you. He was 4-7 last year, and not even a full-time varsity wrestler."

Region III can be demanding for any wrestler. One who places fourth or higher in Friday and Saturday's tournament at East Lake High has a good chance to do as well, if not better, at the state event.

"I think this tournament is tougher than the states," Bass said. "So many of the good wrestlers statewide come from our region."

So what are the chances of the Warriors repeating their performance of last week?

Bass would answer that if he were thinking about it.

"If we had a really great team, I would think about the title," he said, "but I want the kids to think individually and not have to worry about the team.

"Now, next year " Regional wrestling tournament facts

Class 4A, Region II Who: Qualifying wrestlers from 4A, Districts 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Where: Winter Haven High School, 600 6th St. SE. Take I-275 east to 1-4. Take 1-4 east to Memorial Boulevard exit. Go right to Highway 98.

Take Highway 98 into Auburndale. Look for Havendale exit sign. Make a right off Havendale onto Highway 17 S, heading to Winter Haven (about four miles through center of town). Take Highway 17 S, until you see Sears Shopping Center on left. Make a left there and go straight to school's football practice field.

When: Friday, wrestling begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Consolation finals are at 6:30; finals at 8.

Pinellas schools represented: Dixie Hollins, Northeast, Pinellas Park, Largo, Clearwater, Seminole, Dunedin, Countryside.

Pinellas wrestlers to watch: 103 - Kyle Bradley (Cs), Kevin Sigouin (Lar), Mark Hurst (Cw), Darrin Speckner (PP), David Slaght (DH); 112 - Henry Middleton (DH); Allen (Ne), Dale Speckner (PP), Jesse Cottrell (Dun), Clint Cox (Cw), Ryan Jacobson (Cs); 119 - Mike Manfra (Cs), Todd Gordon (Dun), Todd Sakow (DH), Walker (Cw), Lowell Smith (Sem);

125 - Keith Davis (CS), Matt Milnes (Cw), Steve Randolph (Sem), Doug Buxton (Lar), Gordon Lowery (DH), Behrens (Ne); 130 - Dorian Rodriguez (Cw), Ricky Parris (PP), Brett Fragale (Cs), Cory McNamee (Sem), Matt Dowling (DH), Chris Sulimay (Ne); 135 - Chris Rankin (Cs), Kevin Kennedy (Lar), Larry Bettura (PP), Anthony Ahlers (Sem), Ha Nguyen (DH), Peterson (Ne); 140 - Kelly Bitsko (Cs), Lombardo Fernandez (Cw),

Robb Ahlers (Sem), Zack Norsworthy (Lar), McKinnon (Ne), Mike Hearn (DH); 145 - Jim Carazola (Cs), Chris Albrecht (Sem), Tom Altavilla (PP), Matt Turner (Lar), Donovan Rose (Ne); 152 - Andy Turner (Lar), Nathan Bell (Cw), Jason Dallman (Cs), Steve Wyckoff (Sem), Rich Snyder (DH), Billy Burns (Ne); 160 - Jim Snyder (Dun), Duane Bodette (Cw), Rob Corey (PP), Antwan Chance (Cs), Dave Mazza (DH), Finocchi (Ne);

171 - Brian Magee (Lar), Mike Hassett (PP), William Womack (Cs), Andy Myers (Sem), Kelly (DH), Vanbenthuvsen (Ne); 189 - Jim Corey (PP), Chris Eschweiler (Cs), Jason Greene (Lar), Doug Lamkin (Cw), Ed

Masterton (DH), Tippett (Ne); 220 - Von Manuel (PP), Tony Gentilcore (Lar), Rick Roth (Sem), Prevencher (Dun), Tony Swain (Ne), Terry Jones (DH); 275 - Jim Mehr (Cw), Ron Timpanaro (Cs), Peter McDonough (Lar), Matt Gaskin (PP).

At stake: The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 23 and 24 at the West Palm Beach Auditorium in West Palm Beach.

Admission: $3 each day.

Class 3A, Region III Who: Qualifying wrestlers from 3A, Districts 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Where: East Lake High School.

When: Friday, wrestling starts at 2 p.m. until 8:30. Saturday, wrestling begins with the semis at 10 a.m., with wrestlebacks at 12:30 p.m. Consolation finals start at 6:30 p.m. and finals at 8.

Pinellas schools represented: Osceola, East Lake, St. Petersburg, Gibbs, Clearwater Central Catholic, Lakewood, Boca Ciega, Tarpon Springs.

Pinellas wrestlers to watch: 103 - Keit Ngo (Os), Isaac Shedrick (SP), Tasso Politopoulos (EL); 112 - Andy Mussen (Os), Damon Baldwin (Gibbs), Dana Harrington (SP); 119 - Mazur (EL), Danny Rodenhaver (SP); 125 - Kraus (EL), Jeff Tinsley (BC), Jason Braun (Os); 130 - Thomas Coyle (CCC), Bill McKinney (Lw), Matt Froning (Os); 135 - Mike Otto (Os), Hall (BC), Jason Dugmore (SP); 140 - Jonathan McDonald (Gibbs), Earl Kunke (CCC), Brett McParland (EL), Nick Spataro (Os);

145 - Matt Colangelo (CCC), John Lehmann (EL), Steve Colquitt (Os);

152 - Dan Leichssenring (EL), Billy Carter (Os), Abe Dowdell (Lw); 160 - Victor Becklund (Ts), Word (Gibbs); 171 - Lawrence Coles (Lw), Jesse Byersdorf (Os); 189 - Steve Chrisman (SP), Tony Atwater (Lw), Scott Butschek (EL); 220 - Jeff Robinson (SP), Julius Anderson (Lw), Chris Waite (EL), Don Bates (Gibbs); 275 - Semple (Ts), Brian Young (Gibbs), Charles Norfleet (Lw).

At stake: The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 23 and 24 at the West Palm Beach Auditorium in West Palm Beach.

Admission: $3.