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Cougars, Frayer like tourney

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003

BRANDON -- Give it up to Dave Frayer and his Countryside wrestlers, because unlike several of the top teams around the state, they didn't back down from Brandon.

They came in pumped for Friday and Saturday's "Challenge the Streak" Tournament, though the chances of snapping the Eagles' 29-year-old string of 360-consecutive dual-match victories was slim.

"If you have a chance to wrestle a team that has 360 consecutive victories, you need to do it," Countryside 140-pounder Matt Turtzo said. "We've been waiting a long, long time for the opportunity, and it was great to finally get the chance."

Turtzo, a defending state champion, made the most of it Saturday night's final, winning 7-1 and tying the team match score at six. Countryside hung tough for the first eight bouts and trailed just 15-12 before Brandon slammed shut the door with three consecutive pins.

The final score was 40-15, but Turtzo said the experience was more than worth it.

"Everybody got excited, the crowd was into it and it was just a lot of fun," Turtzo said. "We finally got a chance to come into this place and represent our tradition and I think we did that very well."

Countryside's tradition is about as good as it gets outside of Brandon. In the school's 23-year history, the Cougars (ranked No. 2 in Class 2A behind Brandon) have won two state titles and are 312-30 under Frayer.

Because of Hillsborough County scheduling restrictions, the one thing Countryside hadn't been able to do was wrestle Brandon in a dual -- until Saturday night.

"I'm glad that we finally had the opportunity," Frayer said. "This is what we need, this is what the sport needs. This will help everyone get more enthused about wrestling.

"Let's continue (The Challenge the Streak Tournament)."

They will.

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