There's a banner on one end of the Brandon gymnasium with the names of more than 50 state champions since 1974. The last section of the board has room for a few more, and it might not be long before those vacant spots are taken.
Brandon cruised to an easy win in the Graves Invitational on Saturday with 655 points, easily outdistancing Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and its 422 points. Brandon won in eight weight classes in a warm-up to the Clash Wrestling High School Duals in Rochester, Minn., in two weeks, a battle among the best schools in the nation.
The Eagles got started early, winning the first four matches, and rolled from there.
Coach Russ Cozart has seen plenty of Brandon wins and said this is another team that can win state.
"We have another good team," Cozart said. "We are seventh in the nation, and when you look up to that banner we have, you know there will be some more names up there."
Kevin Norstrem, who won in the 138-pound field, said he is aware of all of the names that hang above the mats at Brandon.
"It's always in the back of our minds," Norstrem said after a 3-0 win over Isaiah Crosby of South Dade. Once you step on the mat and look at the board, you know that this is special."
Travis Berridge, who won the 170 class with a 12-2 win over Conner Andrew of Lake Highland, said he is also aware of the board, but he wants to have "State Champion," as well.
"We are looking for better than our individual things," Berridge said. "This is the year for us. We have things to do."
After Brandon got off to its quick start, it was a battle for second place. St. Thomas outpointed Columbus easily.
In addition to Norstrem and Berridge, Jonathon Summitt, Geoff Doback, James Flint, Dylan Lucas, and Jacob Hamdock also won for Brandon.
Doback got Brandon off to a fast start in the 106 division with a 3-1 decision over Jake Brindley of Lake Highland Prep, and the rout was on when Kyle Norstrem won, 13-3, over Josh Rogers, of Vestavia, 13-3.