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Spongers racking up wins and milestones

Tarpon Springs achieved several milestones during the Northside Christian tournament on Saturday. The Spongers' 152-pounder, Nick Albini, recorded the fastest pin in school history (7 seconds) and the team recorded its second shutout this season (83-0 over Admiral Farragut), which doubled the number of shutouts the program previously had.

But the biggest feat was saved for last. Tarpon Springs ended up winning the dual-meet tournament, marking another first for the school. The Spongers rolled over all five of their district counterparts (Admiral Farragut, Clearwater Central Catholic, Dixie Hollins, Northside Christian and Osceola) and scored 309 points overall.

By winning the tournament, Tarpon Springs put itself in position to record another first for the program in two weeks: a district title.

"Northside put this type of tournament together and it was a good idea," Spongers coach Russ Schenk said. "It gives all a chance to see who we'll face in the district tournament."

Schenk said his team is not a lock to win a district title, though, and he has been preaching to his team about the dangers of being too confident. He pointed out that when he coached at River Ridge in 1994, his team had beaten Osceola 55-18 in a dual meet only to lose the district title to the Warriors.

"We have a bunch of solid wrestlers, but no one is undefeated," Schenk said. "We're well-suited for dual meets, but tournaments are a different story."

Still, it's hard for Tarpon Springs not to be brazen about its chances. After all, six wrestlers _ Aaron Johns (103 pounds), Ricky Baier (112), Josh Sullivan (119), Petro Stamaterakis (125), Jesse Lane (135) and Elias Kazelah (189) _ were undefeated in Saturday's meet.

The tournament title illustrates how far the program has come in the three seasons Schenk has been there. The team went 6-3 in 1997-98 and 8-2 in '98-99. This season, Tarpon Springs is 12-0-1 in dual meets with two more matches left _ Wednesday against Northeast and Thursday at Largo.

The team already has set the record for number of victories in a season, but Schenk said the wrestlers are still eyeing an unbeaten record, which would be another first for the school.

"This is a great group of kids that we have," he said. "They've done a great job and they have met a lot of goals. But everybody still wants to stay undefeated. This is something that has gotten the whole school excited about the wrestling program."