BRADENTON — Manatee’s wrestling coaches come equipped with credentials.
Head coach Andy Gugliemini can list more than 200 wins, four district titles, two regional titles and a stable full of state champions on his résumé.
His assistant, David Mason, was a two-time state champion at Valrico Bloomingdale.
When they talk, the wrestlers listen.
Every once in a while, though, Manatee’s past comes back to meet the present.
Gugliemini and company welcome them back with open arms.
“They know the program,” he said.
Stop by Manatee’s wrestling room. You never know who you will find.
This summer, Andrew Fulk made his way back to Bradenton — not exactly a bad guy to learn from.
Fulk won a Class 2A state title at 189 pounds in 2008 and is attending Duke on a wrestling scholarship.
During one practice, Manatee alums Daniel Betz, Dan Dykes and Bobby Dahlin stopped by to offer some tutelage.
Betz was a state runner-up in 2007. Dykes and Dahlin are among a plethora of Manatee wrestlers to place at state.
Sometimes, they come on their own. Sometimes, Gugliemini picks up the phone.
Or sometimes their paths will cross — Gugliemini saw Betz working at a restaurant where he and his wife were having dinner.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you come by and wrestle?’” Gugliemini said.
One day in late July, there was Betz, lacing up his wrestling shoes and throwing on some headgear.
The younger guys were happy for the help.
“I think that’s what separates us from a lot of teams — we have a lot of alumni coming through,” said Stephen Cotton, set to enter his senior year. “They throw out some crazy advice. You listen to it, and you’re like, ‘What?’ Then you think about it and it’s true.”
Gugliemini once said Manatee’s wrestling room is built around tradition.
“It is,” Cotton said. “You have guys who live on the other side of the country, and they always come back.”
Travis Fulk, Andrew’s younger brother, sees the benefits.
“They’ll tell you stories of their season, and in your mind you think, ‘That sounds like mine,’” Travis said. “And you get inspiration from that.”
Manatee’s ties to the past are strong. Gugliemini wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We talk about the kids in the past and the guys who are succeeding now,” he said. “It’s constant.”