Rossi Bruno and Clark Glass have forged a childhood bond that promises to take them from the mats to graduation and beyond as forever they will be remembered as the first Brandon High wrestlers — and the first in the state — to each win five individual state titles.
“They are record-setters, and record-setters don’t always come by,” said Brandon High head coach Russ Cozart, who should know. He leads a team that for 34 years wrestled without a loss and this weekend staked claim to its 23rd state title, including 12 in a row and 22 under Cozart’s leadership.
Bruno and Glass “are part of a great alumni that we have here at Brandon,” Cozart said Feb. 18 at the Lakeland Center, at the conclusion of the 2012 FHSAA Wrestling State Championship. “Both are outstanding athletes. They are outstanding wrestlers. They are outstanding students, with high GPAs. They are totally dedicated to what they do. “
Winning five state titles?
“It was always in the back of my mind, it was my goal,” Bruno said after winning his fifth state title, and in the minutes leading up to Glass’s match. “I pushed myself for it all these years, trying not to have any let-downs."
How easy was it?
"It’s not easy at all," he said. "It definitely takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It takes a lot to stay focused and to push it every day.”
And now he's sharing the spotlight with Glass, the only other state wrestler in history to win five individual state titles.
“It’s a blessing and an honor,” Bruno said. “We grew up together, working out together, having the same goal, and pushing each other on.”
As for Glass, he attributes his success, as does Bruno, to “great coaching, great workout partners.”
As for the moment he became a fifth-time state champion, Glass said it’s a moment “you can’t even describe, it’s just happiness.”
Following their matches, Brandon Patch correspondent Andy Warrener was on hand to interview the record-breaking state champions. Below are his reports.
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW WITH ROSSI BRUNO
Rossi Bruno (61-0) cruised through the 126-pound class in the Class 3A state finals Feb. 18, pinning all four opponents, including Justin Ramirez (53-7) of South Dade in the final round.
Bruno was one of seven Eagles to win individual crowns as Brandon won its 23rd team title.
Patch: What's going through your head just before that starting whistle?
- Bruno: Just, anxiety, probably . . . but that goes off like a switch when the whistle actually blows.
Patch: How bad did you want that fifth title?
- Bruno: I would be halfway home running right now if I would have lost that match.
Patch: How does it feel to make Florida state history?
- Bruno: It's a testament to Coach [Russ] Cozart. This would never have happened without him. He's like a second father to me and to the team.
Patch: What does your future hold in wrestling?
Bruno: Well, I'm going to wrestle for the University of Michigan. My buddy, [former Brandon wrestler] Eric Grajales is up there and he's doing well. I'm excited.
Patch: Talk a little bit about that final match.
- Bruno: I knew going out there I wasn't gonna stop for six minutes. My first take-down really took the will out of him. I think it concreted some of his doubts. After that, I smelled blood in the water.
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW WITH CLARK GLASS
Glass (60-1) blasted through the 160-pound weight class at the Lakeland Center with relative ease, scoring either pins or technical pins on all four opponents. Even the final match against St. Thomas Aquinas' Gio Jeovenetta (48-6) was a 16-0 technical pin that was called in the second round. Glass next year plans to wrestle at the University of Oklahoma.
Patch: Is there any better legacy for you to leave at Brandon?
- Glass: It's been an honor and a blessing to go here. It's all been part of a process with a great coach and a great team to get here.
Patch: What's going through your head, just before that whistle blows?
- Glass: My approach to every match is the same. I try to just stay focused and go from there.
Patch: What keeps you going in this sport?
- Glass: I'm a very competitive person. I have this inner drive, I don't want to be held down. That and I can't have another wrestler out-work me.
Patch: What is it like being a Brandon wrestler?
- Glass: It's an honor. With such a great coach and such a great team, we make each other better.
Patch: Only one point scored on you in four matches here at the state finals. Is there an intimidation factor that you notice when you wrestle opponents?
- Glass: There's definitely some level of that. You can see it when you get up by a few points or you're working them over. Some just break eventually.
- Russ Cozart on Wrestling, Streaks, Coaching and the Brandon Tradition
- Brandon Wrestlers Dominate in Lakeland, Take Home 23rd State Title
- Brandon High Eagles Dominate at County Wrestling Championship