BRANDON — The last time Brandon wrestling coach Russ Cozart set foot in the Soviet Union, Return of the Jedi topped the box office charts and Michael Jackson's Billie Jean was the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts.
"It sure was a long time ago," Cozart said.
Cozart returns to the region for the first time since 1983 when he leads a group of three local athletes to represent the United States in the FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) Cadet World Championships in August.
"All three of these guys did a great job at nationals," Cozart said. "They put in the work and deserve to get where they are going."
Kyle Norstrem (110), James Flint (120) and Dylan Lucas (128) all qualified for the World Championships after wins at the FILA Cadet Nationals in Ohio from May 31-June 3.
"I've never been out of the country before," Norstrem said. "So I'm looking forward to going over there and seeing how people live and how they work and just taking it all in."
Norstrem's brother, Kevin, was the last Brandon wrestler to go to the World Championships when he competed two years ago.
"He told me it's nothing like facing the wrestlers in Florida," Kyle Norstrem said. "I just want to do my best and represent the country as best as I can."
Cozart and the three wrestlers, who all compete for Brandon High School, will be in Baku, Azerbaijan, for five days, where the championships will take place. Azerbaijan was previous part of the Soviet Union.
"Thankfully it's just south of Russia," Cozart joked. "It can get a little cold over there."
Cost of the trip will run about $2,000 per wrestler. The trio took part in a fundraiser at the original Beef O'Brady's on Kings Avenue on Thursday. A portion of the money raised from noon until 8 p.m. went to help pay for the trip. WQYK-AM 1010 broadcast live from the restaurant that day to help drum up support.
"We have about five or six more fundraisers to do before we go, but nothing in concrete yet," Cozart said.
For more information on fundraising efforts, visit www.brandoneagleswrestling.com.
Brandon Wright at email@example.com.