LAKELAND — For Brandon, the opponents might be a little different, but the results are the same.
As Day 1 of the state wrestling finals wrapped up at the Lakeland Center on Friday night, the Eagles (104 points) held a sizable lead over Hialeah American to near a 10th consecutive team championship. The only difference between this title and the previous nine is that this is Brandon's first season in Class 3A.
"We're doing what I thought we would do," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "The state tournament is full of upsets and surprises."
The dynasty will continue despite a couple of hiccups in the road. Brandon qualified all 14 of its wrestlers through region, but senior Terry Dawson (112 pounds) narrowly missed weight the morning of competition and was forced to forfeit both his matches. Dawson was a state finalist his sophomore year.
The Eagles did advance 10 to the semifinals, four more than any other team in its class. Rossi Bruno (119 pounds), Tyler Liberatore (130), Clark Glass (145), Joe Cozart (152) and Mike Ettore (189) are all going for multiple state championships in their storied careers. Cozart, a senior, would become only the ninth wrestler in state history to achieve four titles in one career, joining former Brandon greats David Craig, Cesar Grajales and Eric Grajales.
Durant (Class 2A), Tampa Prep (A) and Tampa Bay Christian (A) each had two wrestlers reach the semifinals. Durant's T.J. Davis (152) and Titus Horner (171) each went the distance in some tough matches.
Tampa Prep's Wes Jarrell (160), joined by teammate Hector Fontanet (152) in the semifinals, placed fifth last season and is hoping to improve on that mark this time around.
Tampa Bay Christian has a history of success at the lighter weights, and this season it will be represented by James Flint (103) and Troy Joyce (119) in the semifinals.
Other local hopefuls to reach the semifinals include Plant City's William Joyce (103), Newsome's Chandler Dobler (152) and Jesuit's Anthony Cimino (140).