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Area sends 15 to 3A-I semis

Fifteen North Suncoast wrestlers advanced Friday night to this morning's semifinal round of the 23-team Class 3A, Region I high school tournament, at Springstead High.

Nine of the three-county area's semifinalists are from Hernando County, including four from 3A-District 4 champion Central. Hernando leads the North Suncoast contingent in the team standings with 38 points after three rounds, but the Leopards are well behind early leader Ocala Forest (66).

Forest, which won the 3A-3 tournament over a field that included defending 3A champion Live Oak-Suwannee, advanced a tournament-high nine wrestlers to the regional semifinals.

Springfield Rutherford, from the Panhandle, advanced eight and is second heading into the semifinal round, which begins at 10 a.m. Suwannee is third at 43, followed by Fernandina Beach (42) and Panama City-Bay (39). The four-district region includes schools from the North Suncoast, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala areas.

Hernando is sixth, followed closely by seventh-place Springstead (35) and eighth-place Central (32{). Here's how the other North Suncoast teams stand: Pasco, 11th with 20{ points; Citrus, 14th with 15{; Zephyrhills, 15th with 14; and Hudson, 20th with 5.

Consolations are scheduled for 6 tonight, followed by championship matches. The top four finishers in each of 14 weight classes advance to next weekend's 3A state meet at Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton.

All four Central wrestlers who advanced won individual district titles last week: 112-pounder John Lovaglio, Doug O'Hara (220), and brothers Roy Reyes (130) and James Reyes (140). So did Hernando's three semifinalists: Jay Bailey (119), Chuck Deason (125) and Brad Kuhl (135).

Springstead, which was third in last year's 3A state meet, has region semifinalists in 145-pounder Mike McCormack and district champion John Siddle (189).

The lone semifinalist from Citrus County, which is represented only by Citrus High in the region meet, is 130-pounder Frank Hoffmeister, 3A-4 runner-up to Roy Reyes.

Pasco County is represented by five semifinalists: two each from Pasco High and Zephyrhills, and Hudson's Tom Dougherty, a former Springstead wrestler and the 3A-4 champion at 145 pounds.

Pasco County's other semifinalists are Richard Fiallo of Zephyrhills, who also is at 145; Pasco High's Jermaine Hicks, the 3A-4 champion at 171; Pasco's Aaron Krig, district runner-up to Siddle at 189; and Zephyrhills heavyweight Steve Greene, a district champion who beat Rutherford's Anthony Hays in overtime of the last match of Friday night's second round.

The North Suncoast has at least one semifinalist in 11 of the 14 weight classes, including three in the 145-pound division (Dougherty, Fiallo and McCormack).

River Ridge struggles

in first tournament

NEW PORT RICHEY _ There was good news and bad news for host River Ridge as the Class 2A-A state wrestling tournament opened Friday.

The good news was that Tony Garazzato advanced to the semifinals at 119 pounds. The bad news was that the Royal Knights, a team in their first year, picked up a grand total of six points.

Garazzato pinned Wakulla's Walt Dodson just 3:35 into the match.

"We worked really hard all season, and I'm very proud with the way we wrestled," River Ridge coach Russ Schenk said. "Garazzato is very psyched up and could be in the finals."

Jacksonville Bolles leads the tournament with 53 points going into today's action. Crystal River is 12th with 12 points; Lecanto is tied with River Ridge in 27th place with six points.

Bobby Fischer (152) is the only Pirate headed into the semifinals; no Lecanto wrestlers reached the semis.

_ DON LEE

Host Auburndale paces

pack in 3A-III meet

AUBURNDALE _ Auburndale took an early lead in the Class 3A, Region III wrestling tournament, scoring 66.5 points and placing nine wrestlers in this morning's semifinals at the Bloodhound Gym. Gulf High is fifth.

Fort Myers (49 points), Osceola (36 points) and Bradenton Southeast (33 points) stayed close through the quarterfinals to turn it into a four-team battle for the regional title.

Gulf High sophomore Keith Drummond (145) and senior Tim Soccorso (220) kept the Buccaneers in the top five by earning spots in today's semifinals.

"This is the toughest regional I have coached in six years," Gulf coach Keith Newton said. "Keith and Tim look good but have hard semis tomorrow."

Gulf has 27.5 points, followed by Plant (18.5), Land O'Lakes (17.5), East Lake (12), Jefferson (12), Jesuit (13) and Robinson (11).

_ TERRY JONES

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