Led by its younger wrestlers, the team captures its third straight freestyle/Greco-Roman state title.
By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2002
BRANDON -- Where the Brandon wrestling team left off at the state tournament in February, the Brandon Wrestling Club picked up by winning the freestyle/Greco-Roman state championship earlier this month.
Although two of the Eagles high school state champions, Cesar Grajales and Kahlid Andwele, were competing at national tournaments, the team's younger wrestlers filled in the gaps to win the team title with 406 points. The Florida Jets (Orlando) were second with 370, followed by Mustangs West (Bradenton) with 320.
Kyle Norstrem, 5, was the youngest member of the Brandon club and Nick Ferrario, 21, was the oldest. It was the third consecutive freestyle/Greco-Roman state title for the club.
"There is no limit to the number of wrestlers a team can have and the Orlando team had about 15 more than us," said Robert Bennett, one of the Brandon club coaches. "We outscored them with the quality of our kids. When the dust settled, 14 of our kids won double state championships. They won both freestyle and Greco-Roman titles in their weight classes."
In addition to the double champions, three Brandon wrestlers won only freestyle titles and three more captured Greco-Roman titles.
Norstrem was the youngest double winner and his older brother, Kevin, 8, also captured belts in both styles.
Rocky Cozart, runner-up at 140 pounds at the high school state tournament, and younger brother Joey both won double titles. Tommy and Daniel Bennett also were dual champions. The Bennett brothers have nearly 10 national championships between them. Another set of brothers, Anthony, Brent and Brandon Jorge, won in both styles.
Eric Grajales will not be in high school for another three years, but he won Greco-Roman and freestyle state championships this month and has already won more than a half-dozen national titles.
Colby Clark and Clark Glass also won double championships and Eddie Hutchinson was the final double winner. His brother, Tommy, won a freestyle title and was runner-up in Greco-Roman.
Two-time high school state champion Matt Juncal won Greco-Roman and was third in freestyle.
Zac Berridge won a freestyle belt and his brother, Travis, was second in Greco-Roman. Austin Figari won Greco-Roman and was third in freestyle.
Sam Seldat also won a Greco-Roman title and his brother, Sammy, was second in freestyle. Nathan Gates was second in both freestyle and Greco-Roman and Jarrod Thompson placed second in Greco-Roman. "No one works harder than the kids in our club," Coach Bennett said. "Our kids and the parents who help coach (Russ) Cozart work all year long training and competing. The high school season is only a small part of the year for them."
Other freestyle placers included Malik Abdulah and Ferrario (second), Sean Patrick (third), John Santana (fourth) and Keith Simmons (fifth). Other Greco-Roman placers included Christy Mathers, Patrick and Abdulah (third).