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Brandon's streak lives, for now

TERRY JONES
Published January 16, 2004

BRANDON - When the dust settled after the second Jim Graves Challenge the Streak Duals Tournament on Saturday, the Brandon win streak was at 380 and unchallenged.

Though Countryside entered the meet ranked second in Florida in all classifications and made the finals, Venice, ranked fifth, put up the tougher battle in the semifinals.

The scores were almost identical, but Venice won four individual matches and Countryside three. Brandon beat Countryside 48-13 and Venice 45-13.

Both challengers won at 103 and 152 pounds, and Venice added victories at 112 and 275. The Cougars' third win came at 140.

If Brandon goes undefeated the rest of the way, a likely scenario, it will end the dual season five matches short of 400, and next season the streak could end before reaching that number.

Why? The Eagles graduate seven of their 14 starters, and unlike previous years, there are no national champions from the wrestling club moving into the lineup as freshmen.

To maintain the streak, Brandon will have to dominate with its seven returners and hope at least two junior varsity wrestlers fill some big boots.

In addition to Brandon's six , three other defending state champions entered the tournament and went undefeated.

Cardinal Gibbons senior 119-pounder Jorge Badia won his title as a sophomore at 103. An injury in the state semifinals last season prevented him from defending his title as a junior.

"This is a tough tournament, and all I want to do this weekend is leave here undefeated and uninjured," Badia said during the event. "I still have headaches and back pains from my neck injury last year."

Badia achieved both his goals.

Jesuit senior 152-pounder Alex Enriquez was not as fortunate.

He defeated Countryside state contender Wes Walker in his first match but could not continue because of a back injury.

Jeff Wimberley of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas also finished uninjured and undefeated. He won his title last season as a junior at 103 pounds.

He has committed to wrestle at Michigan State next year.

"There are a lot of tough kids at this tournament this year," Wimberley said. "It is almost like being at state."

COUGARS CONTINUE STRONG: Durant's young, talented squad came within two points of going undefeated Saturday in the Bulldog Duals at Hernando.

After defeating Cypress Lake 66-12, Leto 67-12, Pasco 71-6 and Zephyrhills 76-0, the Cougars dropped a 35-33 decision to Hernando in the finals. The Bulldogs finished second in the state last season in Class A and have a large group of returners.

Winning individual titles for the Cougars were Tim Burdine (112), Justin Bechtold (119), Matt Caraballo (125), Adam Doback (130) and Victor Knight (215).

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