This time last year, it all went wrong for Manatee High’s Brandon Dossey.
It wasn’t through any fault of the Hurricanes’ multi-sport star.
Dossey’s right shoulder was dislocated during the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A state wrestling tournament.
It was popped back in, and Dossey attempted to wrestle through the injury, but it popped out again and his season ended without placing at the state tourney.
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This year, Dossey is back and better than ever.
As a junior in 2017-18, Dossey is 58-1 and aiming for a state title in the 182-pound weight class when the state tournament begins Friday at Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena.
“He’s had some great people show him how to win,” Manatee High head coach Andrew Gugliemini Jr. said. “... He watched Charles (Small) last year and Marshall (Craig) and Caleb Rudisill. We can keep going with these names and they kind of passed it along. And he’s kind of the guy now.”
Thirteen Manatee High wrestlers have combined to win state tournament gold 18 times, beginning with Dan Medley in 1973 and ending most recently with Charles Small in 2017.
Brian Skelton is considered the best Hurricanes wrestler to date after claiming state titles three straight years from 1982-84.
The tradition and history is something Dossey’s known about for a long time.
He grew up in Bradenton with Manatee High’s DNA running through his body. His older brother, Dakota, was a two-time region champion and the two have a close-knit relationship. In the third grade, Dossey joined the Manatee Wrestling Kids Club, which began his path toward Manatee High’s wrestling program.
At the time, though, Dossey said he couldn’t have imagined he’d be where he is today, vying for the program’s first back-to-back individual state champions since 2008-09.
“They were high tempo and I didn’t know how to get that fast,” Dossey said.
Through grit, hard work, cutting his weight down from 195 pounds at the season’s outset to performing in the 182-pound division, Dossey built himself into a state title contender after recuperating from the dislocated shoulder suffered at the 2017 state tournament.
“Going into this year, I was kind of nervous it would happen again,” said Dossey, who ranks in the top 10 in career victories among Manatee High wrestlers. “... I still get pain in my shoulder, but not as much as I did.”
But it isn’t just his wrestling skills that are top notch. A member of the football team, Gugliemini said Dossey is always joking around and has that fun personality.
In the regional tournament, for example, Dossey was joking around with his semifinal opponent that he had just defeated.
Gugliemini said he got him away for a few minutes to focus on his pre-match routine as he headed to the finals.
Dossey pinned Celebration’s Alfonso Serrano, who attended Manatee High last year, in 1 minute, 56 seconds to win the region title last weekend, and came back smiling and resuming his joking ways.
“He is a very fun loving kid,” Gugliemini said.
A chance to become Manatee High’s lone undefeated wrestler in history fell earlier this year when the flu hit Dossey at the same time he was cutting weight to enter into the 182-pound class.
The defeat was against Palm Harbor University’s Jacob Mason, a wrestler he’s defeated three times this season — twice before the setback and once just a few days after the loss.
Gugliemini said if he’s doing his job right, then there won’t be an undefeated wrestler at the end of the year.
“I want my guys to be challenged,” Gugliemini said. “I want them to wrestle quality competition and you learn more from your losses. If he were to be undefeated right now, that’s a whole other added pressure.”
Area state wrestling qualifiers
Manatee (Class 3A)
Brandon Dossey, 182 pounds, junior, 58-1
Noah Wadle, 106, freshman, 54-7
Lakewood Ranch (3A)
Chase Sharp, 195, senior, 48-3
Ryan Brown, 132, senior, 48-3
Braden River (2A)
Brendan Bengtsson, heavyweight, senior, 44-4
Saint Stephen’s (1A)
Jake Manning, 113, junior, 35-14
Maxwell Manning, 138, senior, 35-15
Parker Lansberg, 182, senior, 37-15
Cameron Rosario, 195, junior, 15-6
Source: FHSAA and TrackWrestling.com
If you go
What: FHSAA state wrestling championships (all classes)
Where: Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena
When: Friday-Saturday, arena opening at 9 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday for spectators. Championship finals scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cost: Tickets are $9 per session in advance, $12 per session purchased day of event. Parking is $7 for cars and $14 for busses, and parking is cash only.