Wrestling: Brandon makes it 45 county titles in a row
TAMPA — One week after a 23-year championship run ended with a runnerup finish in the Tony Ippolito Memorial tournament won by nationally ranked Lake Highland Prep, Brandon got back on the winning track by extending one of its numerous team records.
The Eagles won their 45th straight Hillsborough County Championships, besting a 27-team field Saturday at Wharton with 299 points.
“The competition was a little bit stiffer last week (at the Ippolito), but you’re getting good teams here,” Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. “We were tested.”
Next up for defending state champion Brandon is the Class 2A, District 7 tourney on Feb. 18 at home. The Eagles had won 41 district titles in a row before finishing second to Lake Gibson last season and Cozart envisions another close battle with the Braves.
“We are what we are,” Cozart said. “It’ll be us and them. They might win it again.”
Rounding out the top three teams Saturday at Wharton were Strawberry Crest, which took second with 228.5 points, and Riverview at 147.
Strawberry Crest coach C.J. Gittens, a former state qualifier from Riverview, was encouraged by his team’s performance.
“We placed third (at county) two years ago, so this team we’ve got is very motivated,” he said. “We’re going to prove something to the county, that we’re the next powerhouse.”
Brandon had 10 finalists and five division winners in Andreus Bond (126 pounds), Elier Cruz (152), Austin Deffenbaugh (170), Alex Popke (182) and Joe Marcano (220). Runnerups were Alejandro Davis (106), Jake Van Dyke (113), Broc Spurling (138), Noah Ridley (145) and Brett Estep (160).
The only other team with more than one champion was Strawberry Crest, which had four finalists. Manny Rameriz (113) and Cullen Telfer (138) won titles while Trenton Davidson (152) and Joe Hatfield (182) wrestled in the finals.
The other division champions were: Tyler Forrest, Riverview (106); Johnathan Brabazon, Plant (120); Jacob Darr, Sickles (132); Joe LeBarre, Newsome (145); Dudane Anderson, Leto (160); Kevin Clayton, East Bay (195); and Jesus Gonzalez, Jefferson (285).