Eagles soph makes pages of 'SI'

Brandon's Eric Grajales is becoming known on the national stage

By TERRY JONES Times Correspondent
Published January 23, 2007

BRANDON- Though still a sophomore, Brandon's Eric Grajales is becoming known on the national stage.

His most recent recognition came via Sports Illustrated. Grajales was mentioned in the recent issue as one of the best wrestlers in the nation.

He is 80-0 in two years of high school. That includes the state championship last year at 103 pounds, and he is favored to win the title in Class 2A this season at 112.

On Saturday he won the Ippolito tournament.

"Sports Illustrated ran an article about some of the top high school wrestlers in the country and Eric certainly is one," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "...He has been wrestling with our youth club since he was 4 or 5. Eric deserves any recognition he gets. He is a very hard worker and an excellent wrestler."

"I was impressed to be in Sports Illustrated," Grajales said. "It is always great to be in the newspaper, but being in SI, well few people make that. I wish my whole team had been in."

TIDBITS FROM IPPOLITO: Brandon won the 23rd Tony Ippolito Memorial with 363 team points to 259 for second-place Manatee, the last team to defeat Brandon in a dual 32 years and 439 matches ago.

Jesuit placed fourth and Bloomingdale sixth. Alonso, Robinson, Armwood and Tampa Prep surprised a few with their seventh through 10th places, respectively, in a tough 30-team field.

Seventh-grader Tyler Liberatore was a pleasant surprise for Tampa Prep. He knocked off Springstead junior Schuyler Swanton, the top-ranked Floridian 103-pounder for all classifications, with an impressive 7-3 decision.

Brandon freshman Terry Dawson won the 103 championship with a 12-0 major decision over fellow Brandon Wrestling Club member Liberatore.

Other Brandon champs included Grajales (112), Kyle Keller (119), Joey Cozart (125), Kevin Timothy (130), Sean Joyce (145), Keith Koziel (152) and Tommy Timothy (160).

Armwood senior Ruben Perez was impressive throughout and in winning the 135-pound title. He won with an 11-7 decision over Wharton's Ben Crcmar.

Crcmar scored a pair of pins, a major decision and a decision on the way to the championship.

Jesuit also produced two individual champions. Matt Lynn won at 171 and Paul Lazaro captured the 285-pound belt.