One of the knocks on teens from most generations is their perceived lack of knowledge and respect for past accomplishments and traditions.
Brusly’s Koby Mancuso is a part of a team that turns those perceptions upside down — much like they do with a wrestling opponent.
“We always tell the guys they’re wrestling for two groups,” Mancusco said. “First, you’re wrestling for all the guys on your team at Brusly High and second, you’re also wrestling for all the guys who wrestled at Brusly High before you.
“Being a wrestler at Brusly means something. I’m proud to wrestle for my school.”
Wise words for a 16-year-old sophomore. Like several competitors in the Brusly program, Mancuso is part of a long tradition that goes back nearly 30 years. His father, Kirk, was a state champon for Brusly in 1986 and 1987 and went on to help coach at the school and with the USA wrestling program that servers as a feeder source for the Panthers.
Brusly has won 11 state titles, including eight of the past nine in Division III. On Saturday, the Panthers take a step toward another possible title by hosting their Brusly Invitational, which will feature some of the other top Division III teams in Louisiana. Competition begins at 9 a.m.
Mancuso, a sixth-place state finisher in the 138-pound weight class a year ago, is now among the team leaders. He has a 21-4 mark wrestling at 152.
“Last year, I think Koby put a lot of pressure on himself,” Brusly coach Jimmy Bible said. “Being on that big stage and going up against juniors and seniors is not easy. This year you can see he’s more confident, and he also bigger and stronger.”
Mancuso said he is simply playing a role he was born to play. He started coming to the Brusly wrestling room as a 2-year-old and started wrestling at age 4 or 5. He also plays offensive/defensive line for the football team and is an honor student who recorded a 4.0 grade-point average as a freshman.
“As a little boy, he just wanted to come with Daddy,” Kirk Mancuso said. “That’s how he got started, and he grew up with wrestling. He’s very proud to be from Brusly and loves to compete for Brusly. They (Brusly team) take the tradition seriously.”
Mancuso also took his offseason training seriously. In addition to getting bigger and stronger, Mancuso worked on various wrestling techniques over the summer.
“I worked on being able to block the shots the other guys take to score, and I worked to do a better job of taking my own shots,” Mancuso said. “I probably did put pressure on myself last year. This year I’m relaxed and focused on doing the best I can for my team.”
The Brusly Invitational is the next step in that progression for Mancuso and Panthers. The tourney is expected to draw several top teams from the Shreveport area. Bible is also hoping a few New Orleans teams enter.
The ultimate goal may be winning another Louisiana High School Athltic Association state title at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center on Feb. 15-16. But the road goes through Brusly, literally and figuratively.
“How big is this tournament?” Mancuso said. “Well, it’s at our house, and we don’t like to lose.”