GHS finishes 2nd in meet


Published: Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.

It hasn't been the easiest week for Gainesville wrestling coach Ryland Wagner. He saw his 10-team wrestling tournament shrink to eight teams, and then seven when Suwannee dropped out because of a problem with the bracket.

In the end, Wagner had to help Columbia arrange for another tournament in Jacksonville and drop to six teams. While it wasn't what he originally expected, there was nobody complaining in the gym Saturday, with a near flawless day of matches and some exciting finishes.

Because of the smaller tournament size, each of the six teams was able to wrestle each other. Plant City Durant won with a 4-1 mark - the only loss coming after Durant had all but clinched the title and put in several junior varsity wrestlers against Tampa Sickles.

"I was really pleased with the way the tournament turned out," Wagner said. "I think all the coaches came up to me after the tournament and congratulated me on the tournament. There was some good competition."

GHS came in second by a whisker. The Hurricanes also finished 4-1, losing in a dual match with Durant 32-29. GHS wrestled down a man because its wrestler at 125 failed to make weight.

That gave Durant six points at 125 with the forfeit. The Hurricanes could have tied the match just by avoiding a pinfall or a major decision had their wrestler made weight.

GHS will not see 3A Durant again this year, but they will see Tallahassee Lincoln, a regional rival whom the Hurricanes beat 41-28.

Lincoln and GHS are the top contenders for the regional title. Lincoln finished third in the tournament.

That team success for the Hurricanes was built on the back of plenty of individual success. Five Gainesville wrestlers won their weight class - Travis Hoffman (112), Jimmy Hoffman (119), Pat Defrasio (140), Paul Hoopaugh (145) and Shane Forrester (160) - and Devin Billings finished second at 171.

The team-driven success is noticeable. That team-driven element hasn't changed this year, but more people seem to notice it now that state champion Nick Davis is at college in Minnesota.

"I love Nick, but sometimes last year, it was like there was only one person on the team when you look at the coverage," Wagner said. "There are a lot of good wrestlers on this team. These other guys deserve credit, too, and it's nice to see them finally getting it."

Rounding out the tournament were fourth-place Sickles, Fort Myers and Orange Park.

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