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Bigger's not always better on the mats

Pasco's Eric Stroud moved up a weight class for Saturday's Swamp Challenge and for the second straight tournament had no problems taking on some foes who were 60-80 pounds heavier.

Stroud, a junior who last season qualified for state at 215 pounds, went 5-0 to win the heavyweight title in the weekend tournament hosted by Land O'Lakes. Pasco's Javier Benitez took the 130 title with teammates Jacob Hinkle (135) and Chance Finlay (145) sharing divisions; the Pirates were runnerup to champion North Port.

"At first I was real upset, because I didn't think we wrestled well," said Pasco coach Mark DeAugustino, adding improvements must be made to match last season's run that included conference and district crowns.

DeAugustino had no complaints about Stroud, who won the heavyweight title in the Tough Team tournament the previous weekend.

"He wrestles different at 215 than he does heavyweight," DeAugustino said of Stroud, who weighed in just under 220. "He knows how to beat big guys and guys his size.

"...With the big guys, he pushes them around and pins them. He's pretty strong, too."

Defending champion Land O'Lakes placed fourth behind Newsome, and Zephyrhills was fifth. Other county teams included eighth-place Hudson and No. 9 Wesley Chapel.

"I'm happy with fourth," Land O'Lakes coach Brent Coleman said. "I wanted tough competition."

Land O'Lakes' Josh Kweller won at 140 and Aaron Blevins at 215, with teammates Bryce O'Grady (135) and Brian Rushing sharing titles.

Hudson had four winners: Doug Dodd (125), Tony Germano (152), Devin Brown (171) and William Bentley (189). Wesley Chapel's Alex Turner (160) also won.

Gulf had the highest finish, ninth, among county teams in Saturday's East Lake Invitational, won by Brandon. Mitchell came in 14th, River Ridge 16th and Ridgewood 20th.

Steve Lee can be reached at lee@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6517.

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