KISSIMMEE -- Alex Doran looks better and feels better than he did last year.
Consequently, he is wrestling better, too.
Doran continued his sparkling run through the postseason Saturday at Osceola High School, where he won the Class 3A-Region 2 title at 140 pounds. The Manatee senior, who outlasted Sarasota’s Sean Dulom in the finals, advanced to his fourth straight state meet, scheduled for next Friday and Saturday at The Lakeland Center, and heads there with a stout 49-5 record.
This time last year, Doran was battling through a stubborn knee injury and the death of a grandparent.
Saturday evening, however, he was all smiles as he and the rest of the Hurricanes toasted their third-place finish in the team standings. Manatee racked up 136.5 points, finishing behind Brandon (318) and the host Kowboys (172.5).
“I feel way healthier. My weight’s down,” he said. “So I can focus on just wrestling.”
He has relished his role as the leader of Manatee’s relatively young bunch of wrestlers.
“That’s what has been motivating me -- seeing my teammates do well,” Doran said. “Helping coach my teammates has really improved me as a wrestler, because I see things I do wrong through them. I help them, and I help myself.”
Doran is one of six Canes who will head north to Lakeland next weekend, and one of two regional champions who will do so -- Quinn Tibbets won the heavyweight title with a 10-3 win over Countryside’s Ryan Johnson.
It was a nice bounce back by Tibbetts, who lost last week in the finals of the district meet.
“Last week, he was real upset. I said, ‘Listen, this is gonna light a fire. Let it motivate you,’” coach Andy Gugliemini. “On Friday, I saw the heavyweights line up, and I said, ‘Man, there’s nobody here you can’t beat.’ And he bought in, he believed it. ... He’s winning the close ones, and that’s what you’ve got to do in Lakeland.”
Ronny Whitt (103 pounds), Donnie Jankowski (112), Travis Fulk (135) and Brett Barber (145) also qualified for state, with Whitt placing second and Jankowski, Fulk and Barber all taking third.
“I’m very happy with six. And the six that we’ve got going ... they’re all point getters. They all can score points, and they will,” Gugliemini said. “We’re right there -- third in this region. ... Brandon scored 318 points, Osceola had a great tournament -- to be right behind those two strong programs, I have no problem with that.”
@z-BR Agatehed:Class 3A-Region 2 Championship
@z-BR Agate Bold Centered:AT KISSIMMEE OSCEOLA
Team scores (top 10 and local)
1. Brandon 318, 2. Kissimmee Osceola 172.5, 3. Manatee 136.5, 4. Palm Harbor University 99.5, 5. Countryside 93, 6. North Port 89, 7. Chamberlain 74.5, 8. George Jenkins 67.5, 9. Bloomingdale 55, 10. Gateway 53.
@z-BR Agate Bold Centered:Local results
103 pounds -- Devan Berrian (Brandon) maj. dec. Ronny Whitt (Manatee), 15-1
140 -- Alex Doran (Manatee) dec. Sean Dulom (Sarasota), 4-3
Heavyweight -- Quinn Tibbetts (Manatee) maj. dec. Ryan Johnson (Countryside), 10-3.
@z-BR Agate Bold Centered:Consolation finals
112 -- Donnie Jankowski (Manatee) dec. Patrick Brown (East Lake), 4-2
135 -- Travis Fulk (Manatee) dec. Wade Ridings (Kissimmee Osceola). 4-2
145 -- Brett Barber (Manatee) pinned Dylan Gouletas (East Lake), 4:26.