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Eagles keep streaking

Brandon rolls to 380 straight dual-match wins, defeating Countryside 48-13 in the Challenge the Streak Tournament.

EMILY NIPPS
Published January 11, 2004

BRANDON - Brandon wrestlers can breathe easy. The Streak is still intact.

Actually, the 30-year dual-match win streak, a national record, was hardly in peril despite several of the state's top teams competing in the Jim Graves Challenge the Streak Tournament. Brandon's dominance of Florida teams was well known by the other 13 teams in the tournament.

That didn't stop Countryside from relishing the chance to take on the Eagles in the final. The Cougars, ranked second in overall state rankings (behind Brandon) by floridakids.us, faced the Eagles for the second time in the tournament's two years.

It was a rout, as expected, but was satisfyingly competitive and emotional for both sides. Brandon beat Countryside 48-13, and the streak stands at 380 consecutive victories.

"We wanted to wrestle Countryside," Brandon 171-pounder David Craig said. "It's always good to have the best team in the state of Florida against the second-best team. A lot of the guys you see here, you're going to wrestle them again in districts."

When Countryside's Kent Costel (103 pounds) began the night by pinning Ken Keller in 0:48, Cougars fans rose and cheered wildly. Fans had to wait six matches before cheering another Cougars victory, when Dominic Denumzio recorded an 8-3 decision against Eddie Hutchinson.

Craig was the first to record a pin for Brandon, and heavyweights Rashard Goff (215) and Mike Simmons (275) ended the match with pins.

"They're tough," Countryside coach Dave Frayer said. "You certainly can't take that away from them. I wish we had wrestled a little better in some spots. We have plenty of room for improvement."

Brandon coach Russ Cozart had no complaints.

"I thought we wrestled great," he said. "This team has been doing well all year. We won a lot of tough matches against tough opponents."

Cozart said he was happy with the tournament's turnout and hopes to return many of the state's top teams next year.

"I know our refs love it (officiating the tournament)," he said. "Some of the refs don't see state-caliber teams all season and here they see the state's top two teams go head to head."

Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, ranked fourth in the state, and fifth-ranked Venice also were in the semifinals. Brandon defeated Venice 45-13, and Countryside defeated Cardinal Gibbons 46-26.

Venice defeated Cardinal Gibbons 44-21 for third. Riverview, considered to be the second-best team in Hillsborough County, defeated defending Class A champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 43-29 for fifth.

Alonso was one of the few local teams to advance to the second day of competition, facing St. Thomas Aquinas in the consolation bracket. The Ravens lost 68-12.

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