Thomas Dossett is a wrestler.
It’s not that he didn’t give other sports a shot. In fact, the reason he even stepped foot on the wrestling mat can be traced back to football.
The way Dossett’s football coaches figured, wrestling would improve the bourgeoning eighth-grader’s football skills.
But Dossett’s football career was destined to be short-lived after his first year on the mat.
“I like that everything I do out there is my fault,” Dossett said. “You can’t blame it on a different teammate or anything – it’s always my fault. So I’m always responsible.”
It wasn’t always easy for Dossett.
He recalls failing to score a single point as an eighth-grader Lambert’s JV team.
Dossett was bumped up to JV because Lambert’s youth program didn’t have a wrestler who could physically match Dossett.
“Our youth and middle school program is kind of geared toward kids that have never wrestled before, so typically it’s a lot younger of a kid,” Lambert head coach Kevin Contardi said. “Honestly, he came into practice and here he is, probably like a pretty good-looking 210-pound kid, and I don’t know if anybody else weighed 140 pounds.”
Dossett, now a junior, took his lumps during that first season, but Contardi saw the potential and continued to encourage him.
“I knew he moved well, I knew he bent well, I knew he was quick and I knew he was strong for his size and he worked hard,” Contardi said. “I guess especially those first couple years, it was just telling him to continue to try to do what he was doing and he would be good in the long run.”
The story of Dossett’s wrestling career is one of gradual progression.
As an eighth-grader, he didn’t win a match. As a freshman, he qualified for the state tournament. As a sophomore, he returned to the state tournament and reached the 220-pound title match, falling to North Forsyth’s Dylan Lyerly.
Dossett drove Lyerly to overtime but ultimately fell two points shy of a state championship.
“Yeah, I was surprised,” Dossett said. “I was very surprised, because the kid I beat in the semifinals, I lost to him at sectionals the year before very badly.”
McEachern’s Ese Dubre pinned Dossett in the first period the first time they met, which was during Dossett’s freshman season.
Last year, however, Dossett scored a 2-1 win against Dubre, using a third-period reversal to reach the 220-pound championship match.
This year brings a new challenge for Dossett.
Instead of 220 pounds, Dossett is wrestling as Lambert’s heavyweight at 285 pounds.
Dossett won’t oversize many of his opponents – he weighs 240 pounds – but hopes to make up the difference with his speed and conditioning.
“I just try to be the most conditioned, the fastest and the most aggressive one out there,” he said.
Dossett hopes to wrestle in college, which is why he decided to move up a weight class. In college, there is no weight class between 197 and 285.
Contardi said he couldn’t see Dossett getting down to 197 pounds and believes Dossett would be more comfortable at 285.
“It’s not really about what weight is best for you versus what you’re up against,” Contardi said. “It’s what weight is best for you where you feel comfortable, you’re getting enough to eat but not overeating; at this specific weight your strength is good, your energy level is good. So that’s probably the bigger thing, honestly, is finding a good fit for him personally.”
Another challenge will be tackling West Forsyth heavyweight Dylan Fairchild, the reigning 285-pound state champion who didn’t lose a single match last season.
But the competitor in Dossett looks forward to measuring himself against a state champion.
“It’s a good challenge,” Dossett said. “I like it.”