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Brandon again owns region championship

Brandon captured its 12th regional win in 15 years Saturday night, edging Sarasota 149.5-146 in a contest not decided until the final match of the Class 4A, Region II tournament. The Eagles took the lead for the first time in the tournament when their only wrestler in the consolations, 171-pound Mike Hickman, scored an 18-6 major decision over Pinellas Park's Mike Hassett. That put the Eagles ahead by half a point.

The lead changed twice again.

"We did what we had to do all year to win," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "Our kids wrestled one great tournament, and we now look forward to next week at state."

Hillsborough wrestlers taking individual regional championships were Leto's Eric Graffeo at 103, Brandon's Kenny Urguhart at 130 and Steve Guyton at 189, Chamberlain's Mark Valdiviez at 135, and East Bay's Paul Noble at 152.

Bloomingdale placed fourth with 117 points, followed by Chamberlain with 74.

Going into the championship finals, the Eagles had six wrestlers remaining and Sarasota five.

The Eagles faced the task of beating two state champions and an undefeated wrestler in order to defeat Sarasota for the regional title.

Dixie Hollins 112-pound state champion Henry Holland decisioned Brandon's Doug Badia 3-2, and Sarasota's 119-pound Kris Heyward major-decisioned previously unbeaten Eagle John Heyman 10-0. Guyton beat previously unbeaten Keith Marcos to put the Eagles up to stay.

Class 3A, Region II: With six state qualifiers, including three individual champions, Springstead stole the show at Auburndale in the Class 3A, Region II high school wrestling tournament.

The Eagles, who mathematically clinched their first regional title after consolation-round matches, accumulated 130 points. Springstead outscored two time defending champion Orlando-Bishop Moore (89) and tourney host Auburndale (86.5), the state's top-ranked 3A team.

By placing fourth or better, 18 North Suncoast wrestlers and 10 from Tampa teams advanced to next weekend's 3A state championship meet, at West Palm Beach.

Jesuit, which placed fifth with 65 points, and sixth-placed Tampa Bay Vo-Tech (60), each advanced three wrestlers to the state tourney. Jesuit's Matt Rametta and Vo-Tech's Malawi Hills were the only two Tampa wrestlers to claim individual championships.

Rametta beat Tampa Robinson's Yang Yi 12-4 to win the 220 weight class. Hills pinned Adam Bert of Bishop Moore in 4:50.

_ Staff writer Tim Buckley contributed to this report.