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Six champs, state records point to team's dominance

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003

LAKELAND -- When the finalists in the Class 2A championship round lined up to battle for belts, a familiar sight was witnessed by fans of Brandon and Hillsborough County wrestling. Most of the competitors, nine of 14, were Eagles.

The Eagles had nothing more to prove as a team, because they put the state championship in the books and set a state record with 205 points in the semifinals Friday night. For the nine in the finals, the bouts Saturday at the Lakeland Center were for personal titles.

Brandon won with 246.5 points and six individual champions to set two state records.

At 119 pounds, Cesar Grajales was the first Brandon wrestler to capture a championship, scoring a 5-3 decision. Although a sophomore, it was his second state title.

"It didn't hit me I had won the state championship for a while," Grajales said. "It seemed like just another tournament at first. He was a tough opponent." Both Joyce brothers won state titles. Sean, an eighth-grader, scored a 4-0 decision at 103 pounds for Temple Heights and Ryan, a Brandon junior, won his title with a 1-0 decision at 130.

"I had a little pressure on me going into my match, because my little brother had already won," Ryan Joyce said. "This is my fifth state tournament and my first championship. It sure felt good to win at the same tournament with my brother. Next year we will be on the same team."

Sophomore Rocky Cozart had a grueling match with Nick Buckman of Jupiter, who entered 43-0. But Cozart extended his record to 42-1 with a 6-4 win over Buckman to take the 152-pound belt.

Eagles freshman David Craig scored a pin at 2 minutes, 14 seconds of the second period for the fourth team win.

Matt Juncal (189) and Rashard Goff (215) won the final titles for Brandon. Juncal tied the state record with the fifth championship and Goff broke the record, set by Miami Coral Park in 1967.

Others winning individual titles included junior Alex Enriquez (135) of Jesuit and junior Ettore Ewen (215) of Tampa Prep.

Taking second-place honors were Sickles senior Stan Conley-Liberatore at 125, Brandon senior Alejandro Figueroa at 103 and Brandon juniors Tommy Hutchinson at 135 and Keith Simmons at 275.

Tampa Prep's Nate Drummond placed third at 125, along with Eddie Hutchinson at 135 for Brandon and Omar Mubaidin at 171 for Sickles.

Derek Beaty finished fourth for Durant at 160.

Nick Miles of Bloomingdale placed fifth at 140 along with Garrison Sanborn (189) of Jesuit and Brian Johnson (171) of Riverview.

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