By Tamas Mondovics

What is considered by many as one of the toughest tournaments in the state proved to be just that for the Brandon Eagles wrestling team earlier this month.

The 15th Annual Jim Graves tourney, hosted by the eagles at Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St., saw 23 high caliber programs facing off each other for the coveted title, including three defending state champions: Lake Highland Prep (Class 1A), South Dade (Class 3A) and Camden County (Georgia State champ).

While Brandon managed to see three wrestlers reach the finals, as a team it finished fourth with 470 points, 33 points behind third place winners, South Dade. Lake Highland Prep won the event with 554 points followed by Camden County with 545.

To the eagles credit, the program entered the tourney without two of its top athletes: four-time defending state champ Kyle Norstrem and Bailey Shepherd, who were both dealing with injuries.

“This is the toughest tournament in the state during the season and we are proud of hosting it,” Brandon Head Coach Russ Cozart said. “Its early in the season and this is a great way to see how we measure up to some of the best programs outside of the county.”

Cozart’s positive outlook on the rest of the season—despite the disappointing result—is well founded, considering Brandon’s unmatched record, coupled with the longest winning streak in the high school wrestling history at 459 wins that ended in an unforgettable match in 2008.

The eagle’s record includes the winning of 27 state titles so far, 15 of which were in a row.

Brandon managed to see senior state champ Frank Bruno win at 138 pounds by a 5-0 decision in the finals. Trey Lane at 106 and Joe Marcano at 195 finished as runners-up.

Riverview also took part in the event and finished eleventh with 188 points.

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