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No holds barred in living room

Well, there are a few conditions for the five Pritz boys when they turn it into their wrestling room, which is often.

Wrestling in the Pritz household is confined to the living room, which is generally good for the five Pritz boys but not always best for the living room.

Five brothers can do their share of damage to a room _ there's the matter of a couch that had to be replaced _ but the room also has its ways of returning the favor.

"I conceded the living room to the wrestling," said their mother, Beth Pritz. "It's basically the wrestling room. But there's a fireplace in there."

Zach, the youngest at 5 years old, found that out the hard way earlier this summer while wrestling with brother David, 11. His forehead is okay now, and the rules of competition have been amended as a result.

"We've put pillows up along the fireplace," Beth said.

The Pritzes have shown this summer that they can hold their own outside of the living room, and outside of the county as well. At the Sunshine State Games last month, David and 7-year-old Daniel each earned state titles in their divisions, and 13-year-old Stephen took third place.

Robbie, the oldest of the five at 17, is entering his senior year at Hernando High, where he was a district champion his sophomore year and a first-team all-conference selection last season. He just returned from a month at a wrestling camp at the University of Minnesota, with four practices a day starting at 6:30 a.m.

He hopes to wrestle in college after he graduates next spring, but for now, he's eager for his senior year, where he'll continue to be a model for the younger wrestlers in the family.

"I think they've learned a lot from watching Robbie all these years," said father Ken Pritz, who was the wrestling coach at Hernando High for 10 years and has been principal at West Hernando Middle School since 1996. "He's set the standard for them. They come home and they practice things they see him do.

"When he wasn't quite as big as he is now (154 pounds), he'd come home a lot and practice on them. They were his practicing dummies. He still does that to a degree, and now it probably helps them more than it helps him."

This is the first year that all five have wrestled competitively _ Daniel competes in a 50-pound weight class and Zach at 45. While other wrestlers their age are showing their inexperience on the mats, the Pritzes are benefiting from all that time in the living room.

"The three youngest go out and wrestle kids and they look like they have years of experience," Ken said. "Kids will ask them, "How many years have you been wrestling?' and they can say, "Two months.' "

There's no way to calculate how much time they've spent grappling and grabbing and avoiding fireplaces, but if you ask them how often they are in there, you get a good sense.

"Whenever we're bored," Stephen said.

"Whenever my mom's not watching," David said.

"Whenever they're awake," Mom said.

When the Pritzes aren't wrestling in the living room, they're often watching themselves wrestle in the family room. The video camera works overtime recording everyone's matches so the kids can watch them later and see what they are doing right and wrong.

"We learn a lot from that," said Stephen, the designated cinematographer when he's not on the mat himself.

"As soon as we get home, of course, they run into the family room and we rewind it and they get to watch all their matches," Beth said.

The family video library is big enough that Robbie was actually able to scout opponents for his last tournament by watching footage of past matches against them. The best part of the videos isn't any strategic advantage, but rather the chance to do something else as a family.

"The nice thing I think about wrestling is that we're all in the same gym all day long," Beth said. "The whole family's there, and we do literally go from mat to mat to cheer each kid on. Sometimes, two will wrestle at the same time and we run back and forth."

Ask the boys who the toughest wrestler is, pound for pound, and only two raise their hands. Ask who the loudest is while they're trying to wrestle, and the fingers start pointing.

"I worry because I don't want to embarrass them," said Beth. "It's really hard to watch your son wrestle _ especially if you were a coach _ and keep quiet or not get excited, but we've been working on it. Robbie's assured me I really am not an embarrassment, and we've toned it down a little."

They haven't toned it down much in competition, where the family should be collecting first-place finishes in various weight classes for at least another decade.

They're trying to figure out where to put the growing collection of medals and trophies, but one room is probably off limits. If there were any other downside to the living room, it would be the couch, which unfortunately got caught in the middle of Robbie and Stephen, and lost.

"It was an old couch, and I wanted a new one anyway, so I wasn't too upset about it," Beth said.

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