To take a look back at the record books of Winters Mill’s athletic history does not require much time.  The school was founded in 2002 and didn’t have a senior class until 2004.

But the strides that the Falcons have taken in that short time have been tremendous, and while senior Justin Kozera’s name is already among the historically significant, he wants it to stand alone.

In the 2010 MPSSAA State Wrestling Tournament, Kozera was one of two wrestlers to claim a state title for his school, joining teammate Myzar Mendoza as the school’s first state tournament champions.  This year, Kozera has a chance to go down in history as the school’s first and only two-time state champion.

“It would be great,” Kozera said about being a two-time state champ.  “Last year, Myzar Mendoza and I were the first champion in our schools history.  Now I could be the first two-time state winner and that would be great.”

Kozera has held successful seasons in the past, being a state qualifier in all but his freshman year, when he suffered a broken arm after going 12-1.  But is was a loss in last year’s regional finals, one of just two losses all year, that sparked his 2010 title run.

Kozera pin“Last year I was a county champ again and lost in the regional finals,” Kozera explained.  “The loss at regionals really pushed me to work my butt off and win states.”

Winning the eventual state title, Kozera added to his sophomore state placement of third in 2009, two regional runner-up positions and two county championships.

The 2010-2011 Falcons have been doing well as a team in the early goings of the season, pulling out big wins and none bigger than their win over Southern Garrett, another first in the school’s history.

“We have never beaten Southern Garrett before, so it was great to do that,” Kozera said.  “We still have South Carroll, and I am sure we will see Southern Garrett again at the regional duals, so we will just have to not get to big of heads and work as hard as we can.”

The Winters Mill coaching staff has no worries about letting the team’s success get to the wrestlers’ heads with a leader like Kozera, who the coaches say is more than just a great wrestler in the practice room.

“I think the other guys in the room look up to me because of my experience,” Kozera said.  “The guys ask me what to do in certain situations and I always help them out because I want us to do well.  It is fun to be in the room.  I have all the guys there and we have a great team.

Kozera’s success has already led him to his college goals, as the heavyweight has already verbally committed to attend Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC.