TAMPA — Once again, Brandon wrestlers came up big when it mattered most to remain the only team to ever win the Hillsborough County Championships. The Eagles finished well ahead of Durant, 418.5-288 on Saturday at Wharton.
And just like last week when Brandon coach Russ Cozart said the Tony Ippolito Invitational victory served as a springboard for the county championships, so too does this win prepare the Eagles for the next round.
"We put it on this day to get ready for districts," Cozart said. "I've learned over the years that practice is the most important thing, so I'm looking forward to the next practice on Monday."
Brandon claimed 13 of the 14 individual county titles up for grabs. Durant's Chase Haley took the 112-pound weight class with a 3-0 decision over Alonso's Lucas Fitzer.
Durant's Jordan Wellman celebrated a milestone on Saturday. The senior, who lost an 11-1 major decision to Brandon's Travis Berridge in the 140-pound final, won his 100th career match with an 11-8 semifinal decision.
"There's a few every year that get (to 100 wins), and it's good knowing I was one of the few," said Wellman, 100-43 overall and 26-7 this season. "You've got guys from Brandon that are winning 200, but 100's just fine for me."
In the most decisive matches, five Brandon wrestlers won by pin, with Clark Glass recording the quickest time. The two-time state champion pinned Plant City's Willis Smith in 1 minute, 41 seconds at 145 pounds.
The other pins included: Victor Fugate over Plant City's William Joyce in 3:21 at 103; Wally Figaro over Sickles' Skyler Woods in 4:50 at 160; Mike Ettore over Durant's Dillon Packard in 4:30 at 189; and Zack Baldwin over Jefferson's Lonnie Robinson in 3:31 at 215.
In the closest final, Brandon's Ty Jones edged Wharton's Basim Saed 4-3 at 135.
Three-time state champion Joe Cozart had a 16-5 major decision over Newsome's Chandler Dobler at 152, and two-time state champion Rossi Bruno earned his 50th straight win with a 19-4 major decision over Alonso's Tony Milanes.
Brandon's other winners: Kevin Norstrem (125), Tyler Liberatore (130), Kyle Koziel (171) and Henry Chirino (285).
Hillsborough County Wrestling Championships at Wharton
Team Scores: 1. Brandon (418.5), 2. Durant (288), 3. Wharton (180.5), 4. Plant City (153), 5. Newsome (150), 6. Alonso (141.5), 7. East Bay (140), 8. Middleton (95), 9. Riverview (89), 10. Gaither (88)
Individuals: 103: Fugate (BRA) pin 3:21 Joyce (PCY); 112: Haley (DUR) 3-0 dec. Fitzer (ALO); 119: Bruno (BRA) 19-4 maj. Milanes (ALO); 125: Norstrem (BRA) 9-3 dec. Hamm (DUR); 130: Liberatore (BRA) 14-2 maj. Schepman (ALO); 135: Jones (BRA) 4-3 dec. Saed (WHA); 140: Berridge (BRA) 11-1 maj. Wellman (DUR); 145: Glass (BRA) pin 1:41 Smith (PCY); 152: Cozart (BRA) 16-5 maj. Dobler (NEW); 160: Figaro (BRA) pin 4:50 Woods (SIC); 171: Koziel (BRA) 12-3 maj. Horner (DUR); 189: Ettore (BRA) pin 4:30 Packard (DUR); 215: Baldwin (BRA) pin 3:31 Robinson (JEF); 285: Chirino (BRA) 9-2 dec. Nold (WHA)