By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001
TAMPA -- Finally, after four years of high expectations and gut-wrenching work, Brandon's David Emch stood on a mat at the state tournament -- victorious.
He had done what everyone thought he would do for all those years. He had conquered the pressure. The referee raised his arm.
He finished 38-0 with 30 pins. For his career, he helped lead his team to two state titles, going 140-9 with 105 pins, both records at Brandon and believed to be state records. How sweet was it to win the title in his senior year, after finishing third, fourth and third in the previous three years?
"To be honest, I wouldn't change any of it," said Emch, who won the Class 2A state title at 140 pounds. "Coming close but not winning state, well, it all made me stronger; made me a better person.
"Now I feel better than ever. All that stress is off my back, and I just can't explain how good it feels to go out on top."
Emch's accomplishments weren't lost on many. On Feb. 26, Sports Illustrated featured him in "Faces in the Crowd." Emch will wrestle at Iowa Central Community College next season with hopes of moving on to a Division I school. "I'll probably stay in wrestling my whole life just like (Brandon coach Russ Cozart, who competes in international events)," Emch said. "It's in my blood." Then Emch recalled another reason his state title felt so good.
"I looked over and saw how happy (Cozart) was when I won, and he knew his team had won its 12th state title," he said. "When I saw how happy (Cozart) was, well, that's when I knew I had done my job."
TITLES: Class 2A state, region, district, conference championships.
TITLES: Class A state, region, district, conference championships.