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One-legged wrestler on pace for repeat

The wrestler with one leg put in a strong bid Friday for his second national junior college wrestling championship.

Earl Jones of Labette (Kan.) Community College won twice to advance to today's semifinals at 133 pounds. He won the national title a year ago at 125 pounds. Jones, who lost his lower right leg at the age of seven when a horse bit it off, won 14-6 and 10-2 decisions on Friday. Jones has an artificial leg, but he removes it when he wrestles.

Eric Luedke of Colby (Kan.), the only other 2004 champion in the field, advanced to the semifinals at 165 pounds, up a weight from where he wrestled last year. Eight of the nation's top-ranked junior college wrestlers, including Jones and Luedke, earned spots in the semifinals.The only ones who didn't were 157-pounder Jason Bilinski of Gloucester, who lost 7-1 to Jeremy Stopa of Niagara (N.Y.) in the second round and 184-pounder Craig Mock of Western Wyoming, who defaulted because of injury in a first round match.

As expected, North Idaho (with 68.5 points) and Labette (65) led the way in the race for the Division I team championship. In Division III, Itasca (Minn.) had a 30-point lead over two-time defending champion and favored Nassau of Garden City N.Y.

North Idaho and Labette each advanced three wrestlers to the semifinals.The semifinal matches were to be held this morning. Consolation matches are scheduled in the afternoon. The championship matches will begin at 7 tonight.

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This is the seventh straight year that Rochester has hosted the national tournament. It's sponsored by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission and RCTC.

-- Bob Brown

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