Manatee High’s wrestling program has had several state champions over the years, but sophomore Noah Wadle did something Saturday that no other Hurricane has accomplished.
Wadle won the 113-pound title at Saturday’s Class 3A State Wrestling Championships, making him the first Hurricane to be an undefeated state champion. He earned a decisive 8-1 victory over Miami Southridge’s Christopher Busutil to cap a stellar 57-0 season.
In 2018, Wadle finished one round away from cracking the top six to place as a freshman, and coach Andrew Gugliemini sent him reminders throughout the season.
“I sent him photos of him crying on the side last year,” said Gugliemini, who turned to the Manatee fan base affectionately referred to as the Manatee Mafia in the stands and raised his arms in celebration before an emotional hug with his young wrestler.
“It just pushed me harder,” Wadle said of his coach’s motivating tactic. “Every practice I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. I had one mission — being the first Manatee unbeaten state champ. I wanted it so bad.”
Manatee entered Saturday’s Class 3A State Wrestling Championships with a shot at two individual titles. Another sophomore, Tylynn Lukens, finished second in the 160-pound weight class.
Lukens, a transfer from New York whose distinction is that he and his father Dan are the only father-son duo ever coached by Gugliemini at Manatee, did not fare as well. He lost 7-0 to South Dade’s Brevin Balmeceda, a four-time state champion with 330 career victories.
“That young man has nothing to be ashamed of,” Gugliemini said of Lukens. “We lost 7-0 to the best kid in the gym. My little sophomore will have his day.”
The Hurricanes had three other state qualifiers. Brandon Dossey (22-2 record), who won Manatee’s lone state championship last year, capped his senior season with a third-place finish at 220 pounds. Angelo Dedona (106) placed sixth, and Brandon Tackett finished outside the top six.
Four of the state qualifiers are sophomores, leading Gugliemini to declare, “The future is bright. I’m proud of them, and the Manatee Mafia’s pretty strong now.”
Gugliemini alluded to 75 fans from Bradenton who made the long trek to Kissimmee to cheer on the Hurricanes.
Saint Stephen’s had two wrestlers at the state meet in Darron Robinson (120) and Jake Manning (126), while Southeast had Cameron Rosario (220). Only Rosario, who finished sixth, placed.