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Tough competition prevails

By TERRY JONES, Times Correspondent
Published January 14, 2005

BRANDON - Yes, Brandon preserved and extended its continuous dual-meet win streak during the Graves Beat the Streak Tournament last weekend.

With a win over Chamberlain in the semifinals, Brandon recorded consecutive victory No. 400, then picked up 401 with a title-match win over Gibbons.

In four matches the Eagles defeated Wharton 75-0, Douglas (Fort Lauderdale) 62-12, Chamberlain 53-12 and in the finals Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale) 55-16. Both Douglas and Gibbons entered the tournament undefeated, as did Venice, Durant and St. Thomas Aquinas. It was a grueling contest from the start.

For Cardinal Gibbons coach Frank Pettineo, who has headed up the successful program 18 years, the tournament provided everything he expected and more.

Pettineo was one of the coaches who used to charge Brandon coach Russ Cozart of dodging tough teams to protect the streak. He was unaware of the scheduling restrictions placed on all Hillsborough County teams before the demise of the Western Conference.

"I am glad Russ has this tournament," Pettineo said. "It saves us a lot of out of town travel and costs to get the same caliber of wrestling. We are young this year, but this tournament helped us to prepare our kids for the state tournament."

One of the better wrestlers of the tournament was Gibbons 14-year-old freshman George Bancroft. His four individual wins included a 14-3 major decision over Brandon senior Alex Castro.

Brandon junior 171-pounder David Craig, ranked No. 1 nationally by many publications tracking high school wrestling, had a 4-0 tournament. In the title match, he pinned his Gibbons opponent in 22 seconds.

Eagle seniors with exceptional 4-0 tournaments included Kenny Keller (103), Franklin Gomez (119), Marco Toledo (145) and Steve Caito (189).

Cesar Grajales (135), Sean Joyce (130) and Rocky Cozart (152), all state champions, controlled their opponents to go 4-0.

A new comer to the Eagles nest, sophomore Tommy Timothy (145) added four wins, improving on his record of 18-3. After moving up to 152 pounds for the title match, he closed out Saturday with an 11-9 win over Gibbons' Hunter Brown.

Brandon lost only three individual matches in the finals.

CLASS A TOURNAMENT: In the Temple Heights Duals Tournament in Tampa on Saturday, Newsome went 5-0, beating Middleton (4-1 in the tournament) 48-27 in the championship finals to capture the title. Temple Heights went 1-4 as a team, but put four wrestlers on the mats who went 5-0 as individuals.

"Overall the tournament went well," Temple Heights coach Ron Sainbury said. "I would have liked to have won a couple more matches, but our top wrestlers did exceptionally well. We have five potential state qualifiers."

The undefeated Eagles included senior Leonard LeBlanc (152 pounds) and eighth-graders Eric Grajales, 14-0 for the season at 103 pounds, Kevin Timothy (112) and Zaq Berridge (135). The eighth-graders live in the Brandon district and likely will compete for Brandon next season. A fifth Temple Heights wrestler, 160-pound sophomore Sean Patrick, was 3-0, but had to retire from his fourth match with an injury.

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