LAKELAND — With yet another team title well in hand, Brandon turned its focus to individual goals by the time the championship finals rolled around at Saturday’s state wrestling meet in Lakeland.
The Eagles (269 points) claimed the team title in Class 3A for the 11th time in a row and a state crown for the 22nd time overall. But they also had 10 wrestlers in the championship round, including juniors Rossi Bruno (130 pounds) and Clark Glass (152), who were going for their fourth state championships.
“It’s been a long season, but it’s been a good season,” Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. “This was a typical Brandon team. They stick together, they root for each other, and they feed off each other. They get on a roll and things happen for them.”
Bruno tied the state record for titles with his 5-1 victory over Palm Harbor University’s Aaron Hartman. Bruno had lost to Hartman last week at the Class 3A, Region 2 tournament when he was stricken with flulike symptoms, but he more than made up for it with this effort.
“I thought I’d be the real Rossi Bruno last week, but this was the real Rossi Bruno,” he said. “I felt (Hartman) stole it from me last week. I couldn’t sleep all last week after that loss to him.”
Glass pinned George Jenkins’ Jacob Moskowitz in the final in 3 minutes, 46 seconds to give him three with the Eagles and one as a seventh-grader with Tampa Bay Christian.
If he can make a similar run next season, Bruno and Glass will stand alone in the Florida record books, breaking a tie with former Brandon wrestlers Joey Cozart, David Craig, Eric Grajales and Cesar Grajales, Clay’s Paul Cobbert, Tampa Catholic’s Glenn Goodman, Oviedo’s Jason Robbins, Riverdale’s Scotti Sentes, and Cardinal Gibbons’ Jonathan Taylor.
“(Clark and I) always tease each other,” Bruno said. “Technically, it’s never been done before, but hopefully Clark and I will get (a fifth one) done next year.”
James Flint (112), Kevin Norstrem (125), Tyler Liberatore (135), Wally Figaro (160), and Kyle Koziel (171) were the other individual champions as Brandon maintained its dynasty.
Tampa Bay Christian put forth its usual solid effort in Class A. Dylan Lucas (103) made an impact with his title, and Chase Singletary almost broke Glass’ state record by winning the championship. As it was, the sixth-grader became the youngest to make the finals, losing 12-9 to Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons’ Jamal Morris.
Strawberry Crest’s Abe Fernandez fell in the finals to Lucas 8-0, while the only other Hillsborough County representative in the finals to make the championship round was Tampa Prep’s Eric Bach (135), who lost 9-2 to Northside Christian’s Dalton Dennis.
Other state placers of note included: Spoto’s Eric Franklin (third, 130, Class A), Jesuit’s Anthony Cimino (third, 152, A) and the Brandon trio of Devan Berrian (second, 103), Travis Berridge (second, 145) and Mike Ettore (third, 189).