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Gulf wrestlers win 3A-9 tournament

Gulf had six individual champions and won the Class 3A, District 9 wrestling tournament Saturday.

Gulf's winners were: Robbie Milla (103), Chris Bennett (119), Kenny Adler (135), Keith Drummond (145), David Glassman (152) and Tim Soccorso (220).

They, along with the top four finishers in each weight class, will advance to next week's 3A-Region III tournament at Auburndale.

"Well, we set out to do three things this season," Gulf coach Keith Newton said. "To repeat our 13-1 record, to win the conference and to win the districts _ we had never won it before."

Land O'Lakes finished second with 168 points to Gulf's 194{. The Gators had four champions: Brian Alvarez (112), Mike Winsbro (130), Brian Creuz (160) and Mike McBide (275).

East Lake was third with 137{, Ridgewood fourth with 87 and Tarpon Springs fifth with 63.

East Lake winners were Brent Dyer (125) and C.J. Leone (140). Ridgewood winners were Matt Reed (171) and Josh Turner (189). Tarpon Springs had no champions.

River Ridge gets its

first district title

NEW PORT RICHEY _ The River Ridge Royal Knights pinned down the first championship in the school's brief history at the Class 2A, District 5 wrestling tournament.

River Ridge outpointed runner-up Clearwater Central Catholic 166-150 in the final standings. Lecanto placed third in the five-team field with 137{ points.

Eight Knights qualified for the 2A state meet next weekend on their home mat. Coach Russ Schenk was ecstatic about his team's title. It is River Ridge's first year of competition after opening its doors in August.

"It's an exciting feeling," Schenk said. "Our group wrestled super. I couldn't be prouder of them."

Tony Gazzarato led the River Ridge contingent with his 9-4 decision over Clearwater Central Catholic's Dustin DeNunzio to win the 119-pound weight class. Gazzarato trailed 2-0 after a sluggish first period but recovered to raise his season record to 22-4 overall.

Only one other Knight won a district title, but it was a crucial victory. Adam Dodd pinned Lecanto's Joey Festante at the 2:57 mark of the 171-pound match to clinch the championship for the hosting Knights.

Clearwater Central Catholic led the individual champions' parade with four victors _ Jeff Paul (130 pounds), Tom Coyle (145), Mike Fliss (160) and Michael Micelli (189). Coyle is now 19-0-1 to lead the Marauders.

Lecanto and Crystal River boasted three district champions each. Jason Brulfer (112), Barkley Shoemaker (135) and David Bissonnette (220) paced the Panthers, while Romulo Camargo (125), Bret Johnson (140) and Bobby Fisher (152) led the Pirates.

With only five teams competing, this wasn't an especially grueling tournament. Twenty-two of 28 wrestlers had to win only one match to reach the finals and the Class 2A state tournament next weekend at River Ridge.

Another first:

Central 3A-4 champ

SPRING HILL _ Central won its first district wrestling title behind six individual winners and two third-place finishes in the Class 3A, District 4 meet at Springstead High.

Brothers Ray and James Reyes each claimed district titles, Ray (23-0-1) at 130 pounds and James (24-1) at 140.

Another key match for Central was at 152 pounds, when second-seeded Darryl Hall defeated top-seeded John Bennett of Citrus, 5-4, holding off Bennett's last-second reversal attempt.

"(Springstead) beat us in the regular season at our place by one point," said Central coach Barry Gardner. "The only way to make things sweet was to win districts at their place."

_ Correspondents Steve Persall and Jim Tomlin contributed to this report.

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