GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Most area wrestling fans of history know all about P.J. Cobbert as the four-time state champion at Clay High and now the very competitive coach of Fleming Island High School, but …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Most area wrestling fans of history know all about P.J. Cobbert as the four-time state champion at Clay High and now the very competitive coach of Fleming Island High School, but the Rattlesnake, as Cobbert was called in high school, had a friend, The Bull, that was right in his shadow for most of those years.
“P.J. was the Rattlesnake, I was The Bull,” said newly named Oakleaf High wrestling coach Mark Detoro, 39. “I was team captain, got second (2001 at 171) and fourth in state (2000 at 171), but P.J. got the headlines. We’ve always been friends.”
DeToro, after some comical phone tag sessions with Cobbert, finally picked up the phone and found why Cobbert kept calling him.
“He called me like four times before I picked up,” said Detoro. “P.J. was the one who told me about coach Miller’s need and the great situation over here and that’s about it.”
For Miller, Cobbert’s intervention was not unprovoked as Miller was looking to quickly fill the chair of departed head coach Rory Roderick.
“Rory was a former Oakleaf student, wrestler and a college wrestler who came back to Oakleaf, took over the program from me when I needed to step down to do my athletic director duties,” said Miller. “I was glad he came back, got a district title and, I thought, he could build a dynasty.”
Miller noted that Cobbert did not call him, but the opposite.
“I called P.J. and told him Rory decided to move on and who would be a good fit,” said Miller. “Coming from Cobbert, I think Mark will be a great fit to our program that has been improving year by year.”
For Cobbert, having his friend at the other end of the county will provide some fun “interactions” come wrestling season.
“I know how much of a competitor he is and what a great coach he is,” said Cobbert, who will join Detoro at his October wedding to long-time girl friend Whitni Smith. “He has been in our wrestling room at Fleming Island whenever he wants to roll and the kids respect and learn from him. They just have a hard time dropping a double leg takedown on him.”
Detoro, who is missing his right leg from a cycling accident 13 years ago, lost his leg after being hit by a car and laying in a ditch for hours before being sighted.
“I was close to deploying into the U.S. Army after finishing two years of college wrestling at Lassen Community College with a nationals
ticket,” said Detoro. “I was always a sports guy and love to compete.”
Detoro does not let the missing limb lessen his competitive and, even better, gives him good retorts to practice laments.
“It’s funny when a kid comes to me in practice and says my back hurts a little and I need to back off,” said Detoro, who recently competed and won in the wheelchair division at the Keystone Heights Freedom 5K run on July 2 plus has national championship gold from Paralympics basketball. “I’m missing a leg, really?”
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