Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prep wrestling: Manatee's season had some positives

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

It wasn't the sort of year Manatee's wrestling team and its head coach, Andy Gugliemini, expected, nor was it one they are used to.

The Hurricanes placed third in the district and only sent one wrestler to the state tournament. And it was the first time in 14 years a Hurricane didn't come back from The Lakeland Center with a medal, awarded to the top six finishers in each weight class.

Donnie Jankowski, a state qualifier last year, tore a ligament in his knee prior to the county tournament and was lost for the postseason. And Thor Miller, figured to be a factor at heavyweight, injured his knee after coming back from football season and spent the rest of the year recovering.

Yet the Hurricanes have some positives to reflect on as they gear up for next winter. State qualifier Brett Barber (145 pounds) may have come one win short of the medal round, but he set a program record with 56 wins, and his 133 career victories are seventh all-time in program history.
Freshman Jesse Fulk, whose brothers Andrew (a state champion as a senior at 189 pounds) and Travis (four time state-qualifier and a medalist his senior year) were accomplished Hurricanes, won 54 matches and fell a win shy of qualifying for state.

And the Hurricanes won the county championship for second straight year and 15th time in 16 seasons.

It wasn't the kind of year Manatee envisioned. But the Canes are hoping for healthy seasons from Miller and Jankowski - both juniors - next year, and Fulk will have a full year of varsity wrestling under his belt, as well.

Will it be enough to get Manatee back to its recent past, which included a pair of runner-up finishes to Brandon at the state tournament? Time will tell. But if they can send a few wrestlers back to Bradenton next February with a state medal, that would be a fine start back up the ladder.

1 comment:

  1. Coach Gug will lead team back. What out for healthy Jankowski and Miller next year and Fulk will continue to get better. Also, a number of other young wrestlers will be a factor next year.