It takes a special person to be a Brandon wrestler. Not everyone is cut out for it.
“There’s a lot of commitment there and sacrifice,” head coach Russ Cozart said.
Working alongside his son Joe, a four-time state champion wrestler and a product of the Brandon program, this season is a little different for Coach Cozart and the Eagles. They’re coming off a second-place finish at states, the rare runner-up.
“We’re trying to rebuild and get the young kids involved and get back up there,” Cozart said. “You know, we’re working really hard.”
The more you win, the more you have to lose.
Nobody knows that better than Brandon wrestlers. And on Jan. 5, 2008, they learned that lesson the hard way.
It was simply known as The Streak. And it came to a dramatic end when Miami South Dade snapped the nation’s longest win steak at 459.
“Defeat can be a very bitter pill. But you’re going to find out that this is going to make you so strong,” Cozart told his wrestlers after the loss.
“The streak is something that we did lose but actually what I remember the most is kind of the rebound the team made,” Joe Cozart said.
Brandon bounced back from their first dual meet loss in 34 years by winning their 18th state title. That win helped continue another impressive streak, 17-straight championships, a Florida high school record.
“They know they lost that night, but they didn’t lose in life,” Cozart said.
Thanks to a documentary produced by Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos, Brandon wrestling got the Hollywood treatment.
“People come up to me I don’t’ even know and say, hey, we watched The Streak and it’s a fabulous movie. It’s great,” Cozart said.
“I’ll run into people across the nation and they say, oh, you were on The Streak, and I’m like yeah, that’s me, that’s me,” Joe Cozart said.
The film highlighted the impressive work ethic behind the amazing number, a number that still resonates in the Brandon wrestling program.
“Our streak, at 459, still stands 10 years later and nobody’s close,” Cozart said.
“One number carries all the names, all the guys that wrestled for Brandon High School,” Joe Cozart said. “All the different matches, all the stories, all the different workouts.”
Those workouts continue. Last year, Brandon finished second at states for the first time in 18 years. It snapped another streak, 17-consecutive championships. But it also provided yet another teaching opportunity for Cozart.
“It’s OK to get a silver medal or a bronze medal, but don’t be satisfied with that,” Cozart said. “You’ve always got to shoot for the top. And always remember that hard work gets you to the top.”