Fla. school's 34-year streak ends

Published: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 3:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 3:31 p.m.

BRANDON, Fla. - The Brandon High School wrestling team's national record of 459 consecutive dual-match victories has been broken.

South Dade High School topped Brandon 32-28 Saturday night in the finals of the Jim Graves "Beat the Streak" Tournament, breaking the longest record held by any high school team in any sport. Brandon had been undefeated since 1973.

"We broke that history," South Dade senior Tico Baez told the St. Petersburg Times. "Even the guys that weren't supposed to win, they overcame their fears and won the match."

Brandon's streak began nearly 34 years ago, after Jim Graves, for whom the tournament is named, took over as the Eagles' wrestling coach, despite having no previous experience with the sport. Graves ended up coaching the team for nine years.

"They needed a coach so I decided to help out," Graves told The Tampa Tribune.

Graves began coaching in 1971 just two years after the program's creation with the team going 3-10 that season. But the next year, Brandon returned with a record of 12-1, with its only loss to Manatee High School. For the 1973-74 season, Brandon went 12-0-1, tying Manatee. Since then, Brandon had done nothing but win until Saturday's match against South Dade.

The streak included 66 individual state champions and 18 team titles.

Members of the Brandon program felt the tournament would be the toughest challenge to the streak in 20 years. Half the Eagles' starters, including seven state placers, had graduated. Also, the top four teams in the state, which included No. 3 South Dade, would be competing.

Brandon junior Kevin Timothy said it was too soon to comprehend his place in history, considering he wasn't even born the last time his school lost a wrestling match.

But as Timothy was present to witness the end of an era, he also hopes for the possibility to start a new streak.

"Next year," Timothy told the St. Petersburg Times. "We start back at one."

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