Manatee came away from the 34th annual Tony Ippolito Memorial tournament with two finalists and one champion. Brandon Dossey won in the 195-pound weight class and Noah Wadle lost his 106 final, but perhaps the most significant match for the Hurricanes occurred in the 220 semifinals.
Joshua Booker entered Saturday’s prestigious tourney hosted by 27-time state champion Brandon with an unbeaten record. The senior dropped to 48-1 after being pinned by 220 runner-up Ryan Smenda of Fleming Island.
Booker, a senior aiming for his first state berth, anticipates a rematch with Smenda in the upcoming state tournament.
“It actually took some pressure off me,” Booker said of his first defeat of the season. “I was worried about not losing instead of wrestling.”
Dossey, a junior who improved to 46-1, pinned Fort Myers’ Greg Dennard in 1:33 in the 195 final. It marked the first Ippolito win for Dossey, who qualified for states as a freshman but not as a sophomore.
“It means a lot to me,” he said of the Ippolito victory. “I’m more technical than last year and I hit the weights in the summer.”
Wadle, a freshman with a 42-4 record, came up short in his title bid after a 13-2 major decision loss against Fleming Island’s Louis Gagliardo.
“Those are our three standout kids,” Manatee coach Andrew Gugliemini said of his top trio. “They’ve been our best three kids all year, so it’s no surprise. It’s nice to walk out of here with one champion.”
Manatee placed eighth in the Ippolito event, named for Brandon’s first-ever state champion. The Hurricanes were one of two county teams there with Saint Stephen’s finishing 18th in its Ippolito debut. Lake Highland Prep won the competition for a second straight year.
“It’s a tournament that when I was in high school I used to wrestle in every year,” said Saint Stephen’s coach Bobby Latessa, a former Manatee wrestler. “The seniors earned it. They were ready to come to a tournament as competitive and tough as Ippolito. It’s a great test for our guys as we get toward the end of the season.”
Seniors Jake Ross and Parker Lansberg each took fifth for the Falcons’ best finishes. At 170, Ross pinned Liberty’s Dominick Tulshi in 1:00. Lansberg, competing at 182, defeated Manatee’s Benjamin Stevenson on a technical fall.
The Manning brothers, Max a 138-pound senior and Jake a junior at 113, also competed for Saint Stephen’s.
Manatee’s other wrestlers were: Angelo DeDona, 106; William Scholl, 132; James Russell, 138; Jesse Martin, 152; Brice Varnadore, 170; Gary Lidge, 182; and Donald Shoup, 285.