Newsome's Dobler thrives on hard work
LITHIA - Kyle Paladini can't help but chuckle when recalling the first time he met Chandler Dobler. Paladini, then in the midst of his high school wrestling career as a standout at Bloomingdale High, was serving as a counselor for Young Life when he and Dobler first crossed paths at a youth group function nearly five years ago. "He was a little chubby kid. Long, red hair," Paladini said laughing. "He didn't look like a wrestler at all." As it turns out, Dobler's appearance was a bit deceiving. Not only has he found his way on the mat, but the now-senior at Newsome High has evolved into one of Hillsborough County's top 152-pounders. And Paladini, now an assistant coach with the Wolves, thinks he knows the reason why."He's just got that drive," Paladini said. Apparently all it takes to notice that is spending a little time with Dobler. "He's the kind of kid who doesn't stop," Wolves head coach Stephen Gilbert said. "He's probably the hardest-working kid on the team." Hard work is exactly what Dobler knew he needed to put into the sport if he wanted to see some success, especially after two lackluster years to start his wrestling journey. He managed just one victory in limited action as a freshman and failed to record a victory at the district tournament as a sophomore, which ended his postseason as quickly as possible. So he hit the mat - and with a vengeance. Dobler anticipates he wrestled upwards of 90 matches during the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons. He sought out tougher competition. He snuck in extra wrestling practices whenever possible. He even mixed up frequently on a mat at his house with Paladini. It led to his first appearance at the state wrestling tournament in his junior year. After another intense summer before his senior year, in which he also began working out with the Caveman Wrestling Club in Brandon, Dobler not only has seen his skill level rise to new heights but he's also worked his way to the cusp of a benchmark in the sport. Dobler entered last week's Class 3A-District 6 tournament at Riverview just seven wins shy of 100 for his career. "It's kind of hard to comprehend sometimes," Dobler said of his success. Not for Paladini. "The best thing about him is he listens to you and he always tries to get better," Paladini said. "He comes up to me after every match and says, 'What did I do wrong?' And it's like, "Dude, you just killed that kid, it was 16-0.' And he's, 'Well, did I do anything wrong?' That's what makes him so fun to work with, so fun to coach. He always just wants to get better." Dobler knows the work is not over. He'll head to the Class 3A-Region 2 tournament at Brandon this weekend eyeing a return trip to Lakeland for the state tournament, which he can achieve by finishing in the top four at his weight. His dream is to climb to the top of the medals podium at that event. Of course, standing in the way of that dream is Brandon standout Joe Cozart, a three-time state champion who is the overwhelming favorite to win the Class 3A 152-pound state title. Prior to last week's district tournament, Dobler had faced Cozart three times. Each time, he lost. But Dobler is not deterred. "It's going to be a challenge," Dobler said of getting past the Eagles standout, "but it's not something I'm going to back down from." Dobler's coach believes that drive to succeed will put him in a position to accomplish his goal. "As hard as he works," Gilbert said, "he'll be right there at the end."
Reporter Adam Adkins can be reached at (813) 259-7616.
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