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Challenge in higher class is worth lone loss, Leopards standout says

Let's not go so far as to say two-time Class A state champion Addison Chipoletti of Hernando High is bored in the midst of his senior year.

But at the Oviedo Invitational on Dec. 29, there was a challenge available outside his usual 189 weight class. It was Scott Mays of Land O'Lakes, among the state's best 215-pounders.

Despite giving up by his estimation some 20 pounds to Mays, Chipoletti moved up to take the challenge. He lost 5-4, the lone defeat of his season to date and his first since losing to Gainesville's Nick Davis last year. Davis, a 2A state champion, now wrestles at Minnesota.

Still, Chipoletti said it was worth a try.

"I wanted the challenge. I felt like I could beat him," said Chipoletti, who handled Mays last year in the same event when both competed at 189. "It's fun to bump up and see what you can do."

Chipoletti did that frequently last year, competing in many tournaments at 189 before settling into 171 for the postseason. Both of his state titles came at 171, though this year he's planning on going to state at 189.

That now means challenges may have to come from competitors above the 200-pound mark.

"He wasn't real happy (to lose), but he did a pretty good job," Leopards coach Matt Smith said. "I felt like Addison was the aggressor in the match. We took (Mays) down about three times, but the referee called him out of bounds all three times."

The next day at Oviedo in the individual-tournament format, Chipoletti went back to his usual spot at 189 and won the crown. He hasn't been derailed since, building an 18-1 record for the season.

Chipoletti will put his skills on display this weekend at the Springstead Invitational, in which he likely will cruise to a win.

"I'll take one match at a time, but I feel pretty good about this week," Chipoletti said. "It's not that hard of a tournament."

Easy for him to say.

YOUNG LEOPARDS: Hernando defends its title at Springstead, but Chipoletti will be one of the few veterans in the lineup.

Sophomore Brandyn Kuhn, fourth at state a year ago at 112, will be out due to flu. And senior Windham Rotunda, fourth last year at heavyweight, may be out as well. Due in part to those absences, Smith's lineup will include five freshmen.

"We've just got to get healthy and get everybody back in the lineup," Smith said. "We have a lot of young guys, but they're wrestling hard. We've definitely been seeing some quality competition every weekend."

NICE SURPRISE: Springstead picked up a victory Friday at the Palm Harbor University dual tourney, beating Largo, Osceola and host PHU to win its pool.

"We're in a rebuilding year, so for us to come through and win a tournament was a big boost," first-year coach Eric Swensen said.

Six Eagles went undefeated in the event: C.J. Cook, 103; Jose Santiago, 112; Keith Hansen, 130; Jared Greenwell, 135; Walter Acosta, 160; and John Howland, 215. Howland's record is 17-1, with Acosta at 20-3 and Cook at 12-3.

Not bad for "rebuilding," but a bigger challenge awaits Springstead at its tournament.

The Eagles were not much of a factor last year in placing 11th out of 15 teams, but Swensen has set a goal of finishing in the top three. After all, the squad has a winning taste going. "Our boys, if they put their head on straight, can use the motivation and go with it," Swensen said.

_ JOHN SCHWARB, Times staff writer

SPRINGSTEAD INVITATIONAL

WHEN: Friday _ Preliminaries begin at 2:30 p.m. and continue all day. Saturday _ Semifinals start at 10 a.m., finals at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Springstead High School.

ADMISSION: $5 per session.

TEAMS: Citrus, Crystal River, Hernando, Lecanto, Nature Coast, Springstead, Chamberlain, Dunnellon, Gulf, Hillsborough, Hudson, Jesuit, Mitchell, Pasco, Plant, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Robinson and Zephyrhills.

THE SKINNY: Hernando dominated a year ago with 202 points, putting a half dozen wrestlers into the finals and with all but one winning titles. Chamberlain was second in a 15-team field at 181 and Mitchell third (136.5). This year's event has 19 squads.

_ JOHN SCHWARB, Times staff writer

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