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Wrestling: Brandon wins 19th consecutive Ippolito Memorial title

BRANDON — Host Brandon won its 19th straight Tony Ippolito Memorial tournament on Saturday, marking the 25th time in 27 tries that the Eagles have won the event.

Bismark, N.D., claimed the other two titles, the last one coming in 1992.

The Eagles' success, Brandon coach Russ Cozart deemed, is a lasting tribute to the late wrestler and coach who was the first state champion from Brandon and Hillsborough County in 1974. Ippolito died from cancer in 1990 at age 36.

"I don't think there's much of a question, or doubt, that we weren't going to win this thing," Cozart said after greeting several Ippolito family members during the awards presentations.

"Tony Ippolito was kind of the heart and soul of this program," Cozart said. "The program's very rich in tradition, and we kind of want to keep it that way."

The host Eagles captured 10 of 14 individual titles. The only other team to win more than one weight class was runnerup Springstead, which had three champions among its eight finalists.

Nonetheless, as dominant as Brandon was in racking up 398.5 points compared to Springstead's 267.5, Cozart came away impressed at the talent in this year's 31-team tournament. "I thought it was one of the strongest fields we've had in a while," he said.

Not surprisingly, the two outstanding wrestlers of the tournament — Rossi Bruno and Tyler Liberatore — were from Brandon. Bruno defeated Springstead's Virgil Toms 7-2 at 130 pounds and Liberatore (135) edged Springstead's Nick Soto 4-3.

Five Brandon wrestlers relied on pins for their victories: James Flint (112) over Springstead's Jordan Rivera in 1:57; Victor Fugate (119) over North Port's Sean Ware in 2:38; Clark Glass (152) against Springstead's Shawn Landgraff in 2:49; Kyle Koziel (171) against East Bay's Morquez Forest in 2:44; and Mike Ettore (189) over Aric Fernandez of Liberty in 5:27.

Wrestling: Brandon wins 19th consecutive Ippolito Memorial title 01/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 22, 2011 11:13pm]
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