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It's district tournament time for Pasco schools

Pasco County high schools will participate in three district wrestling tournaments today.

River Ridge will be home in the first post-season tournament of the school's six-month history _ The Class 2A, District 5 tournament.

Land O'Lakes will see if it really has what it takes to edge Gulf when the Gators host the Class 3A, District 9 tourney, which also includes Ridgewood.

And Hudson, Pasco and Zephyrhills will head north to Spring Hill as Springstead hosts the Class 3A, District 4 tournament.

River Ridge will follow today's district tournament with the Class 2A state tournament next Saturday. With only eight districts comprising 44 schools in 2A, there are no regional or sectional tournaments.

Not many schools host a state tournament in their first year, but River Ridge's impressive facilities won it the nod.

"One of the goals we set athletically was to have some (post-season tournaments)," River Ridge athletic director Jim Michaels said. "We think this will be very good for the school."

The 2A-5 tournament will include River Ridge, Crystal River, Lecanto, Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Northside Christian. Wrestling begins at noon; consolations are at 6 p.m., followed by finals. Due to the distance between the schools, there was no pre-tournament seed meeting.

There was one for the 3A-9 tournament at Land O'Lakes, and Gulf not surprisingly leads the with five top-seeded wrestlers: Robbie Milla (103-pound class, record 12-8); Chris Withrock (112, 19-4); Kenny Adler (140; 17-5); David Glassman (152, 16-6-1); and Tim Soccorso (200, 21-1).

Gulf is a strong favorite for a district crown; the 13-1 Sunshine Athletic Conference champions' only loss was to Countryside, a 4A school which went 12-0 in the Pinellas Conty Athletic Conference.

But Land O'Lakes was impressive with an 11-3 record and could challenge if Gulf has an off day. The Gators have four top seeds: Billy Evisiton (119, 10-9-1); Mike Winsbro (130, 21-4); Brian Creuz (160, 17-3) and Mike McBride (275, 22-2-1).

The five-school tourney also includes Ridgewood (three top seeds), Tarpon Springs East Lake (two) and Tarpon Springs (none).

"I worked it out," Land O'Lakes coach Charlie McBride said, "And if everyone finished where they were seeded, we'd come in second."

But that will never happen.

"That's right," he said. "I think things can even out. If East Lake will thin out Gulf for us, we have a shot."

The 3A-9 tournament will let everyone get out in time for a movie. Wrestling starts at noon, but consolations will start at 4 p.m., followed by finals.

Central is favored to win the seven-school 3A-4 tournament, which also includes host Springstead, Hernando, Citrus, Hudson, Pasco and Zephyrhills. The top Bears are brothers James and Roy Reyes, who have combined for a 41-1-1 record this year. James (21-1) wrestles 140; Roy (20-0-1) wrestles 130.

Hernando has the impressive low-middle weight trio of Jay Bailey, Chuck Deason and Brad Kuhl. The threesome combined for one loss and one tie this season in the 119, 125, and 135 divisions. Springstead has top seeds in Sal Basile (103), Roy McDowell (160), and John Siddle (189).

Hudson's Tom Dougherty dropped just one match this year, to James Reyes (who also gave Kuhl his only loss); Zephyrhills' Steve Greene's only loss this year was to Land O'Lakes' McBride; Pasco's Jermaine Hicks and Al Garcia are strong.

Wrestling starts at 11 a.m., with consolations at 6 p.m., followed by finals. Admission for all tournaments is $3.