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Pirate wrestler wins three for girls state title

Pasco junior Jessica Delage pinned her way to her first state wrestling championship.

Delage won the high school division's 122-pound title Sunday at the United States Girls' Wrestling Association Florida Girls Wrestling State Championships at Englewood Lemon Bay High School.

Seventeen girls, including three in Delage's weight class, participated in the one-day, Folkstyle tournament.

"You wouldn't think it to look at them, but after they wrestled, she was definitely the much better wrestler there," Pasco coach Mark DeAugustino said.

Delage next will join an expected 500 to 700 girls in the USGWA National Championships April 1-2 in Lake Orion, Mich.

Delage used different moves to win each of her three matches by pin. She used a third-period half nelson to subdue her opening-round opponent, a first-period headlock to stop her next foe and a first-period cradle to end her final bout.

Delage is DeAugustino's first true female varsity wrestler. Lori Hoon wrestled for fun but was more of a team manager, DeAugustino said.

Like Hoon, Delage rides horses. The strength and endurance they built while pushing horses around a stall help them on the mat, DeAugustino said.

Delage wrestled at Hillsborough for two years before transferring. She trained with the Pirates' varsity and competed at 119 when she made weight. She lost all but one of her matches against boys, winning at the Springstead tournament.

Following the regular season, Delage continued to train with boys state qualifiers John Clarke, Mikey Cowell, Javier Benitez, Jacob Hinkle, Ray Perez and Eric Stroud.

"She trained the whole year long with the guys because she knew her state stuff was coming up," DeAugustino said, "and it paid off."

Delage can earn a medal at the national tournament by finishing among the top nine in her class. DeAugustino said he hopes a medal will help Delage earn a scholarship to college.

"A lot of schools out there have girls wrestling if she wants to pursue that," he said.

BOXING: "Bazooka" Joe Linenfelser, 17, of New Port Richey was added to a fight card March 23 in St. Charles, Mo. Linenfelser, the youngest licensed pro boxer in the United States, will seek his third consecutive knockout against a boxer to be determined from the St. Louis area.

- FRANK PASTOR, Times staff writer

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