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State wrestling: Brandon crowns seven champs, adds to legacy

LAKELAND — Brandon locked up its ninth consecutive state wrestling championship, 19th for coach Russ Cozart and 20th total for the school in the Saturday morning semifinals.

The Eagles sent eight into the finals to put the team title out of reach of all Class 2A competition.

"This team has worked hard and been consistent all year," Cozart said. "They went to Miami and beat a great South Dade team in their gym, went to Wisconsin and won a big tournament against some of the best northern schools and won their state title. They set their plans and took care of business."

Brandon, which won with 270 points, crowned seven individual champions: Ryan Renkey (112), Rossi Bruno (119), Clark Glass (130), Eric Grajales (135), Kevin Timothy (140), Joey Cozart (145) and Mike Ettore (189).

Renkey won his match with a broken hand and nose. The Brandon senior also won a state title in Arizona as a sophomore.

"I broke my hand in practice after regionals and at that point, my team would not be able to replace me at states," he said. "No way I was going to let my team down. So I toughed it out and somehow I won.

"I have never been on such a strong well-balanced team. This has been a new and great experience for me."

He has already signed to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this summer.

Bruno won his second individual championship.

"At regionals I was not able to get my offense going on the same (finals) opponent, so I was determined to attack early," he said. "After my first takedown, I was able to keep him on the defense. It is great to win another individual state title, but how exciting to be on a state championship team."

Glass, Eric, Timothy and Joey Cozart added the next four Brandon individual titles.

For Glass and Timothy, it was their second state championships; Cozart won his third.

Grajales ended his Brandon career with four individual state championships and a career record of 218-0.

"I feel like I am graduating from my family," he said. "I have accomplished this mountain of gold and now go on to another. Wrestling has been my life and the team and club at Brandon has been my family."

Tampa Bay Christian eighth-grader Kevin Norstrem (112) was the first non-Brandon wrestler to win an individual title. Norstrem said he won't have much of a break, before competing for a national championship and a spot on the U.S. 14- to 15-year-old national team. He tries out for a spot in April in Akron, Ohio.

Bloomingdale senior Chris Figari won his first state championship at 160 pounds, finishing his final season 54-0. Next he plans to take advantage of Florida Scholars and other academic college funds and focus on studies at Florida State.

"I think I either dislocated or broke my shoulder in the semifinals," he said. "But when I walked out onto the mat for the finals, with the crowd and the energy, I forgot about that and wrestled my best. I finished the way I wanted too."

State second placers included Armwood's James Gray (112) and Brandon's Kyle Koziel (160). Other county placers included, from Class A, Jesuit's Austin Boudreau (112) fourth and David Gonzalez (125) third, Robinson's Zach Boyer (135) third and Tampa Prep's Wes Jarrell (160) fifth.

From Class 2A, Brandon's Tyler Liberatore (125), Wally Figaro (152) and Zaq Berridge (171) third, and Keith LeFevre (103) fifth.

In Class 3A, Bloomingdale's Carlos Montero (140) fourth, Durant's Nick Hadick (285) fourth and TJ. Davis (145) sixth, Alonso's Kendall Ivy (189) third and Riverview's Herman Hernandez (135) third, Ryan Hight (130) fourth and Rafael Rivera (189) fifth.

State wrestling: Brandon crowns seven champs, adds to legacy 02/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 2009 11:29pm]

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