HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Wrestlers Davis, Hart the toast of the state


Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 11:01 p.m.
For the second time in as many years, Gainesville High School wrestler Nick Davis is a Class 2A state champion. Wrestling at 189 pounds, Davis put the cap on a brilliant high school career as he defeated Mike Cozy of Venice 14-6 and finished the season 50-0. Last year, Davis won 47 consecutive matches without a defeat. Davis, a senior, has set Hurricane records for career wins, most wins in a single season, most consecutive wins and most career takedowns. "It's going to be a long time before anyone breaks the individual records he's set," Gainesville coach Ryland Wagner said. "What made (Davis' performance) special was that it helped Gainesville jump Port St. Lucie for fifth place." Last week, Wagner said it's been a goal to have a team finish in the top 10 in the state, but to finish in the top five was more than he could have imagined. "It was really exciting," Wagner said. "To get into the top five was above all expectations." Davis has signed to wrestle collegiately with Minnesota and leaves a great legacy at Gainesville. Wagner said that if next year's team emulates any part of Davis' game, he would like it to be Davis' winning attitude. "Whatever it took in terms of work, that's what he'd do to be a champion," Wagner said. Suwannee's Preston Hart, wrestling at 145 pounds, won the 1A title with a decision over Craig Ponchak of Green Cove Springs Clay. Hart wrestled Ponchak twice earlier in the season, with favorable results. "He pretty much controlled and handled the match," Suwannee coach Jimmy McCullers said. "But once you're in the state finals, it's a whole new ball game and anything can happen." Hart made it three victories against Ponchak with a 4-1 decision. Hart's presence with the Bulldog team was definitely a plus, especially because this time last year he wasn't even in the state of Florida. His family moved back to Live Oak this year. "He placed fifth in the state of Georgia last year," McCullers said. "We knew what he had accomplished in Georgia, but things are a little different in Florida." McCullers said that Hart is one of the nicest kids you'd ever want to meet, until he gets on the mat. "Preston's a great kid," McCullers said. "I watched him again this weekend, and he doesn't have any enemies. "He's just a friendly, likeable guy." McCullers said the only time he's seen Hart upset is when he's tryi ng to make weight. "But once he steps on, or when it starts getting close to match time, he gets in the zone," McCullers said. Hart's only loss came in double overtime against Fort Myers' Brandon Kelly, who finished second in Class 2A.

Boys Basketball

  • MELVIN PATTERSON, SANTA FE - Patterson played the role of hero in the Raiders' 52-51 win against Baker County. He scored 13 straight points during a 15-6 fourth-quarter run to lift Santa Fe to victory. He finished with a game-high 21 points.

    Baseball

  • BRIAN PITTMAN, LAFAYETTE - In an 18-0 rout against Bell on Thursday, Pittman pitched the game of his life. The Hornets pitcher struck out 11 of the 15 batters he faced. As if that weren't enough, Pittman also pitched a perfect game.

    Softball

  • DEDYN SINDLEY, SANTA FE - Sindley, a sophomore, struck out 16 batters as the Raiders defeated Bell 6-0 on Thursday. Sindley is now 2-1 on the year.

    Honorable Mention

  • Basketball Ron Larris, Gainesville - The senior had 24 points, nine of which came from behind the arc, and nine assists in Gainesville's 67-49 Region 1-4A quarterfinal win over Tallahassee Leon on Thursday.
    Cornelius Ingram, Hawthorne - The senior swingman put up 30 points in the Hornets' 59-42 Region 2-2A quarterfinal win against Bronson on Thursday night. With that performance, Ingram has moved past former South Miami standout Charlie Miller into fourth place on the state's career scoring list with 3,189 points.
  • Wrestling Travis Hoffman and Robert Petrick, Gainesville - Hoffman, a sophomore, and Petrick, a senior, placed along with 2A state champion Nick Davis and helped Gainesville to a fifth-place finish, the highest in school history. Hoffman (103) finished third, and Petrick (125) placed fifth. Petrick wrestled in the fifth-place match and won, despite sustaining a shoulder injury earlier in the day.
    Josh Davis, Suwannee - The senior, wrestling at 125 pounds, finished second in Class 1A. Davis faced some stiff competition in Miami Belen Jesuit's Jason Machado. Machado repeated as state champion for the third consecutive time.
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