Which would be sweeter for Keith Davis? Winning the state 125-pound title or getting a chance to shave coach Dave Frayer's head? That's a close call.
Davis, Countryside's conference, district and regional champion 125-pounder went 33-2 last year, losing to Sarasota's Kris Hayward by a point in the 112-pound division final. Capturing a state title has been a goal of Davis' his since middle school. But the team title is just as important. And if the Cougars' win it . . .
"We get to shave coach's head," Davis said. "I don't know if he wants his hair cut off, but I know he wants a state title. Me, I want to shave his head real bad."
He may get the chance. Six Cougars qualified for the state, the most of any county school. They are Kyle Bradley (103), Davis, Chris Rankin (135), Kelly Bitsko (140), Jim Carazola (145) and Chris Eschweiler (189). So the potential for another state title (they won it in 1986-87 and were second last year) is there, if everyone wrestles up to their potential, coach Dave Frayer said.
"We are in as good a shape as anybody," he said. "With a couple of good draws, getting three in the finals, and having the other three score well, you never know what would happen."
For Davis, wrestling up to his potential is important for a couple of reasons. First, the competition is getting tougher, he said. Last week, he had his toughest match of the year in the Region II finals, defeating Sarasota's Justin Miller 4-0. Also, he remembers what happened the last time he let up.
"That still drives me crazy," said Davis, thinking back to the loss to Hayward in the state final. "I beat him by 10 points the week before, and then I just went out and didn't wrestle my best."
Davis responded by wrestling straight through the year, attending the state and national freestyle tournaments, camps, and finally taking a break halfway through the summer. He missed the first part of the training season with a knee injury but came back with a vengeance, rolling to a 28-0-1 record with his relentless style.
"I have had people say that about me, even off the mat," Davis said. "That I never stop moving. But that's the way you win; you have to stay aggressive."
State wrestling tournaments at a glance
What: Class 3A and 4A state wrestling tournaments.
Who: Regional qualifiers (the top four in each weight class) from around the state (locally, regions II and III)
When: Friday, wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, semifinals begin at 10 a.m. Consolations start at 6 p.m. and finals are at 7:30 p.m.
Where: West Palm Beach Auditorium, 1610 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. On I-95 going south, take Exit 53 (Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard). Off the exit ramp, make a left and go east \-mile. The auditorium is on right-hand side.
Pinellas schools represented: Clearwater, Countryside, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Pinellas Park, Northeast, Largo, Seminole, Lakewood, Osceola, East Lake, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs.
Pinellas wrestlers to watch: Class 3A: 103 _ Isaac Shedrick (SP), Tasso Politopoulos (EL). 112 _ Dana Harrington (SP). 125 _ Jason Braun (Os), Ryan Krause (EL). 130 _ Bill McKinney (Lw). 145 _ Steve Colquitt (Os). 160 _ Victor Becklund (Ts). 189 _ Steve Chrisman (SP). 220 _ Chris Waite (EL), Don Bates (Gibbs). Class 4A: 103 _ Kyle Bradley (Cs) 112 _ Henry Middleton (DH). 125 _ Keith Davis (Cs). 130 _ Ricky Parris (PP), Dorian Rodriguez (Cw). 135 _ Chris Rankin (Cs). 140 _ Kelly Bitsko (Cs), Mike Hearn (DH). 145 _ Jim Carazola (Cs). 152 _ Rich Snyder (Cs). 160 _ Dave Mazza (DH). 171 _ Mike Hassett (PP). 189 _ Jim Corey (PP), Chris Eschewiler (Cs). 220 _ Rick Roth (Sem), Tony Swain (Ne), Tony Gentilcore (Lar), Von Manuel (PP). 275 _ Peter McDonough (Lar), Matt Gaskins (PP).
Admission: $4 each session.