State wrestling: Brandon wins 25th title



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Sun. February 16, 2014 | Steve Lee

State wrestling: Brandon wins 25th title

LAKELAND — Brandon exten­ded its record run by winning the Class 2A state wrestling title Saturday, giving it 25 in all and 14 in a row.

Among Brandon’s seven state champions, five — Frank Bruno (106 pounds), Kyle Norstrem (113), James Flint (126), Dylan Lucas (132) and Dontae McGee (170) — capped unbeaten seasons. Four — Bruno, Devan Berrian (138), Dakota Greene (160) and McGee — won their first titles.

“Our guys went out real quick,” said coach Russ Cozart, who now has coached 101 state champs over 38 seasons. “They were going after the wins. They were aggressive, and that’s the mark of a good team.”

Brandon tallied 270.5 points, a state record, to finish ahead of runnerup Jesuit’s 119.5. The Tigers were led by Austin Underwood, who capped an undefeated season by winning the 285-pound title.

In Class A, Tampa Prep eight-grader Anthony Artalona won the 120-pound title. The Terrapins took third with 80.5 points. Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons won with 165.5 points, 16.5 more than Orlando Lake Highland Prep. Hernando finished eighth with 47.

Homestead South Dade won the 3A title with 174.5 points, 47 more than Kissimmee Osceola. Palm Harbor University finished fifth with 88.

In 2A, Robinson’s Luis Peguero (182) did not win, losing 3-1 to Harmony’s Sawyer Root in the final after defeating him twice this season. But he received the Russ Mauger Award, a statewide honor given to the wrestler who best exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, ethics and integrity.

“It means a lot,” said Peguero, a two-time state champ. “I just try to be the best role model I can be.”

Bruno set the tone for Brandon in the finals with a pin of Bradenton Lakewood Ranch’s Hunter Reed in 48 seconds.

“It’s really extra special this year,” Bruno said, “because we’re not only trying to win states, but beat the record for most points.”

The previous state record was 270, set by Brandon in 2009.

Norstrem followed Bruno by winning his third title, 3-1 over Lakeland Lake Gibson’s Caleb Smith. On hand was Norstrem’s brother, Kevin, a 2013 graduate and one of three Brandon wrestlers with five state titles.

“(Kyle is) a stud,” said Kevin Norstrem, who wrestles at Virginia Tech. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Flint and Lucas won their fourth titles. Flint defeated Lake Gibson’s Sa’derian Perry 5-0, and Lucas pinned Naples Barron Collier’s Tannis Taylor in 2:44.

Brandon had two other finalists. Ty Lucas (120) and Troy Joyce (145) lost to Springstead’s Michael McDonald and Jordan Rivera, respectively.

For Artolona, his 16-1 win over Panama City Beach Arnold’s Richard McLanahan in the final capped a march to the title that included two pins.

Tampa Prep coach Andy Bricker described Artolona as “one of the hardest-working kids you’ll ever find.”

Artolona’s teammate, Donoven Hough, reached the 126-pound final but lost 4-3 to Cardinal Gibbons’ Anthony Vazquez.

“It was awesome,” Bricker said. “We only brought five guys here, and four out of five placed.”

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