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Florida wrestler like no other

A car accident and months of rehab don't prevent Brandon's Ryan Joyce from winning his 200th career match.

By TERRY JONES
Published January 16, 2004

BRANDON - With a major decision in the match at Chamberlain on Tuesday, Brandon senior Ryan Joyce won his 200th individual high school match, something no other Florida wrestler has done.

Joyce broke the state record (182 wins by Chris Bono of Jacksonville Bolles) during his run to the championship at last season's state tournament.

Getting to 200 didn't seem possible in June. Joyce was hit by a car while jogging in Columbus, Ga., during a wrestling camp.

"When we got a call informing us of his accident last June, we left to drive there not knowing if he was dead or alive," said his father, Mike Joyce. "What a painful drive that was for his mom and me.

"While we were driving, our family doctor, Julio Enriquez, called to get the information from the hospital. They wouldn't give it to us on the phone. We were almost there when Dr. Enriquez called to say his injuries were not life threatening."

Ryan Joyce spent six days in the hospital and four months in rehab before being allowed to train again. He thought he could compete in the USA Wrestling Nationals in Fargo, N.D., in August.

"I just couldn't accept the fact I was injured that much, until Fargo," Joyce said. "I still went with my teammates, even though I couldn't compete. I was not at full strength when practice started this fall, but I am back into the 90 percentile now. By the state meet I hope to be 100 percent."

Joyce is 200-20 for his career. Most of his losses came in his seventh- and eighth-grade seasons at Temple Heights Christian.

He has won a state championship, third- and fifth-place state medals, plus five district and five region championships.

"Ryan is the kind of kid every coach wants on his team," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "He has been a four-year starter and always reliable in every tournament. Because he is such a hard worker in the practice room, he sets a good example for the younger wrestlers."

Cozart was impressed by his comeback.

"I have seen kids quit wrestling because of a sore toe, but Ryan got run over by a minivan and came back hard," Cozart said. "That's impressive."

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 01:33:00]


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