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Eagles take flight with 9 champions

CLASS 2A: Brandon will send 12 to state meet as the team wins title with a school-best 292 points.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2003

BUNNELL -- Eleven Brandon wrestlers stood shoulder to shoulder for the parade of champions that recognized the finalists at the Region 2 meet Saturday at Flagler Palm Coast.

They might as well have been awaiting a medal ceremony.

Nine Eagles won titles as Brandon ran away with the team championship with a program-best 292 points, 181 more than second-place Sickles.

"We just did an all-school performance this weekend," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said.

Alejandro Figueroa (103 pounds), Ceasar Grajales (119), Ryan Joyce (130), Ed Hutchinson (135), Tom Hutchinson (140), David Craig (145), Rocky Cozart (152), Matt Juncal (189) and Keith Simmons (275) won titles. Kalid Andwele (125) and Rashad Goff (215) placed second, and Jarrod Thompson (160) added a fourth-place finish.

But Russ Cozart didn't forget about the three wrestlers who won't join their teammates at the state meet Thursday-March 1 in Lakeland.

"We wanted to bring 15 to state," Cozart said. "We didn't want to leave anybody behind."

Figueroa got Brandon started with a 17-1 technical fall over Lake Howell's Colin Hadlock.

"Whenever you're first out there, you want to ignite a flame for the rest of the guys, get them pumped up and ready to go," Figueroa said.

Grajales carried on the momentum.

His pin of Ridgewood's Anthony Jackson started a run in which Brandon won six of seven weight classes, including five straight between 130-152.

In all, 18 county wrestlers qualified for state by placing among the top four in their weight class.

Stan Conley-Liberatore of Sickles defeated Andwele 10-8 in the 125-pound final.

Runners-up Jegan Gabbidon (135) and Omar Mubaidin (171) of Sickles and Derek Beaty (160) of Durant; and fourth-place Matt Caraballo (112) of Durant, Elliot Acosta (152) of Sickles and Jarrod Thompson (160) of Brandon also advanced.

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