Time to get it all started

Well, I’m in SW Florida now…not far from the Tampa area where so much strong competition resides. Brandon’s less than an hour away. The Tampa schools are a straight hour. There’s tons of competition down here. If I wanted, it wouldn’t take long, but the road might be a bit swampy, to drive across the state to where the Miami schools are found.

At state last year, the Tampa area and the Miami area dominated the scene. I’d like to see the Jacksonville area dominate the scene, as I am told it once did. It could happen again. But it starts with you, today, and the work you’re willing to put in.

You’ve seen eight previews out there. Almost 7,000 words are written talking about who’s back. So there’s all of that to look at. There are preseason rankings out. Those are likely to be proven wrong before long, and that’s OK. I probably don’t have every team’s preseason capsule right, and that’s OK.

Because it’s not what’s written about you that matters, it’s what you DO that matters. You chose to cut weight, have practice on Thanksgiving and give up your social life for nearly four months for this. So that you have the chance to face the Tampas, the Brandons, the Lake Highlands, the South Dades, the Cardinal Gibbonses. That is the destiny that you start toward today.

I hope each of you succeeds according to the time you’ve put into this sport. For four months every year, in many years over the past 20, my family has put up with me being gone — at duals, at tournaments, even home but still sort of gone in my head as I type results, records, think about possible matchups, etc. And I get to live my life besides!

That’s why I respect what choices you’ve made, to do this. You could have played video games or hung out on the block, or anything. But you chose to wrestle. A lot of you are back and I look forward to seeing you again. Some of you might not be back now, but you may decide later to come back. For my part, I hope that you do.

I’ve talked about my heroes in the sport often enough in the past.

I can’t wait to find new ones this year.

Let’s get started. We’ll open our live coverage in Clay County Wednesday night, traveling to #7 Middleburg as the Broncos face Ridgeview. Then, I’ll hit Fleming Island on Friday night and then Bishop Snyder on Terry Parker on Saturday. We’ll have a ton of writeups as early as Sunday. More results than anyone else will publish all season, will be on this site the first weekend. I may even try out, if I can figure out how to do it, setting up a poll for a “Dual of the Week” starting in Week 2.

Let’s get started. We’ve got one defending state champion in Clay senior Adam Breindel and a pair of local #1s in seniors Josh Calhoun (Bolles) and Sasha Key (Suwannee). There probably could be others. It’ll be fun to track your progress. If time allows, I’ll publish running win/loss records.

Let’s get started talking about, being about wrestling. Because that’s why you’re here and that’s why I’m here.

See you on the mats soon!

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1A-District 4 preview capsule

1A-District 4
Team synopsis: Last year, this district was an absolute fight from start to finish. Bishop Kenny did some creative lineup juggling, got some strong performances and had a bellwether leader on the mat that helped the Crusaders overcome
strong challenges from Bolles and University Christian and win the title. But there were points during the course of the day when anyone might have won this thing — Bolles looked like a lock halfway through the day.

This year could be even messier. In fact, I will just come out and say I expect that.

Why? Because here more than in any other district, star power is what may be the difference. All three of last year’s top 3 teams had significant graduation losses to overcome at the start of this season. Bolles, University Christian,
Bradford, Episcopal and Providence all had numbers issues a year ago. I would have expected FSDB to put together a team that could take care of business and maybe surprise its way to the title, but I’ve already heard about roster issues
there. Duval Charter may still be (at least) a year away, but they’re a team on the move. Pedro Menendez also had some graduation hits after losing several wrestlers midway through the season. Wolfson is still so very young, and they’ve
lost their top wrestler from a year ago.

Projected finish: 1. Bolles. 2. Bishop Kenny. 3. FSDB. 4. University Christian. 5. Bradford. 6. Duval Charter. 7. Providence. 8. Episcopal. 9. Pedro Menendez. 10. Wolfson.

Bishop Kenny Crusaders
Coach: Paul Schloth, 6th year in position.
2013-14: 10-9 in duals. 2nd at Rob Bierman Invite, 19th at Capital City Classic, 11th at GCS Rotary, 1A-District 4 champ, 8th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-25th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Alexander Condoroteanu-oroveanu (district runnerup, 16-8 at 285 in 13-14), Nick Toney (district champ, region 3rd, 31-10 at 120 in 13-14), Colin Warren (district 4th, 5-8 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Kyle Black (district runnerup, 4-9 at 132 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Ryan Timmons (district runnerup, 21-13 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: If the Crusaders find some middles to go with bookends, they could be solid again. There’s a fair amount of returning skill in this lineup.

Bolles Bulldogs
Coach: Matt Morris, 27th year in position.
2013-14: Dual record unknown. 7th at Rob Bierbaum Invite, 17th at Westside Kiwanis, T-46th at Seahawk Slam (GA), 30th at GCS Rotary, 20th at Palm Coast Rotary, 2nd at 1A-District 4 meet, 12th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-31st at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Josh Calhoun (district champ, region champ, 3rd at state; 37-5 at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Gray Creed (district 4th, 17-16 at 126 in 13-14), Connor Cronk (district champ, 14-8 at 138 in 13-14), Jordan Jackson (district 4th, 11-8 at 220 in 13-14), Michael Surenyan (district runnerup, 15-11 at 145 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Caleb Calhoun (district 3rd, 18-12 at 195 in 13-14).
8th: KJ Fagan (district 4th, 11-6 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Bulldogs usually start slowly and finish fast. Calhoun is one of just two top-ranked wrestlers statewide, and he’ll benefit immensely from being in the most crowded weight class locally last year.

Bradford Tornadoes
Coach: Bryce Archer.
2013-14: 4th at 1A-District 4 meet, 10th at 1A-Region 1 meet, 27th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Blake Addison (district 3rd, 12-17 at 132 in 13-14), Clay Hicks (6-18 at 138 in 13-14), Shayne Kahakua-Lodivero (district champ, region 4th, 24-11 at 106 in 13-14).
Juniors: Jason Griffis (district champ, region 3rd, 32-7 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Bradford’s ace has graduated, but the Tornadoes still have solid kids in the lower weights. If they can figure out their numbers issue, they could be a factor in the district race.

Duval Charter Panthers
Coach: Brian Adkins, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 9-25 in duals. 10th at Optimist Invitational, 7th at 1A-District 4 meet, 27th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Juniors: Ben Fitzpatrick (district 3rd, 20-16 at 138 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Andrew Duchaussee (11-26 at 145 in 13-14), Hunter Lawson (25-15 at 120 in 13-14), Blaise Puig (19-19 at 132 in 13-14).
Freshmen: Ethan Barry (6-13 at 145 in 13-14), Chris Duchaussee (13-10 at 126 in 13-14). Daniel Porter (district runnerup, 33-9 at 113 in 13-14).
8th: James Allinson (1-17 at 145 in 13-14), Andrew Slade (24-10 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Panthers are building for the future, a brick at a time. Lots of bricks get added this year, and I foresee more region qualifiers for Duval Charter as a result.

Episcopal Eagles
Coach: Mike Rickey, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 7-8 in duals. 6th at Rob Bierman Invite, 8th at 1A-District 4 meet, 28th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Juniors: Conor Chepenik (district 3rd, 14-6 at 220 in 13-14), Travis Williams (7-10 at 285 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Connor Evans (8-7 at 120 in 13-14), Christian Rickey (11-9 at 138 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Don’t be surprised if the Eagles take several steps forward. Sophomore transfer Chase Lasater (Orange Park) will give a boost to a rapidly-improving upper-weight group.

Florida School for the Deaf & Blind Dragons
Coach: Travis Homewood, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 20-2 in duals. 5th at Rob Bierbaum Invite, 10th at Billy Saylor Invite, 5th at 1A-District 4 meet, 25th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Wesley Homewood (district 3rd, 28-10 at 160 in 13-14), Marcus Maldonado (district runnerup, 23-12 at 138 in 13-14), AJ Rice (district 4th, 22-9 at 120 in 13-14), Nick Stanfield (7-21 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Jordan Philyor (13-12 at 220 in 13-14), Imed Touahri (district 3rd, 19-13 at 182 in 13-14).
8th: Diego Garcia (14-14 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: I don’t mind telling you these guys are my favorites; you try wrestling without being able to see or hear as you do now. But FSDB proved they’re not just a novelty with 20 dual wins, and might pull off the feat again.

Pedro Menendez Falcons
Coach: Jason McFarlane, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 9-16 in duals. 5th at St Johns River Conference, 11th at Westside Kiwanis, 14th at Palm Coast Rotary, 6th at 1A-District 4 meet, 11th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-43rd at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Nicholas DiGregorio (16-14 at 138 in 13-14), Rodney Padgett (district champ, region 4th, 35-9 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Brandon Anderson (5-15 at 170 in 13-14), Brandon Gardner (10-22 at 106 in 13-14), Jonathan Samples (8-15 at 160 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: It was a dream post-season for the Falcons a year ago, with four state qualifiers and one placewinner. That will be tough to duplicate, but Menendez showed dual strength at times even before the tournament run in February.

Providence Stallions
Coach: Justin Daniels, 4th year in position.
2013-14: 2-12 in duals. 13th at Optimist Invitational, 31st at Palm Coast Rotary, T-35th at Ippolito Invite, 9th at 1A-District 4 meet, 24th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-66th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Max Cobb (district champ, region 3rd, 26-9 at 220 in 13-14), Ty Merry (district 3rd, 20-11 at 170 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Aaron Smith (district 4th, 6-9 at 182 in 13-14).
Freshmen: Evan Merry (12-12 at 126 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Cobb was one of the surprises of last year, but then, he had a chance to face the best at Brandon’s IBT tournament last year. With some very solid 220s right in his district, he doesn’t have far to look for competition.

University Christian Christians
Coach: Kevin Wiley, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 12-2 in duals. 1st at Rob Bierman Invite, T-12th at Capital City Classic, 7th at Lyman Invite, 4th at GCS Rotary, 7th at Palm Coast Rotary, 3rd at 1A-District 4 meet, 3rd at 1A-Region 1 meet, 7th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: David Trigg (district runnerup, region runnerup, 27-10 at 220 in 13-14).
Juniors: Michael Marshall (10-6 at 170 in 13-14).
8th: Derrick Stumph (10-13 at 113 in 13-14), Cameron Wiley (district 3rd, 16-14 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Trigg and Wolfson transfer DeAngeles Harris make a powerful 1-2 punch at the top, but it’s the middle where the Christians might struggle this year. Numbers were also an issue at times in 2013-14.

Wolfson Wolfpack
Coach: Scott Marabell, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 7-10 in duals. 11th at Optimist Invitational, 15th at Gateway Conference, 10th at 1A-District 4 meet, 21st at 1A-Region 1 meet, 39th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Charles Kessinger (15-12 at 126 in 13-14), Rafeal Leon (8-7 at 182 in 13-14).
Juniors: Joao Celso (9-20 at 160 in 13-14), Quetin O’Berry (7-9 at 106 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Joseph Brokaw (4-18 at 220 in 13-14), Joshua Cade (8-7 at 132 in 13-14), Jorge Hernandez (9-11 at 132 in 13-14), Albert Quintanilla (7-10 at 145 in 13-14), Nassiem Waitley (6-16 at 195 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Still a young team, still a work in progress. Several returners will need to take a large step forward.

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1A-District 3 preview capsule

1A-District 3
Team synopsis: Last year’s district tournament at Yulee was a fantastic three-way battle for the top spot. Although Bishop Snyder had one of its weaker tournaments of the year, the Cardinals still managed to get nine wrestlers into the finals and thus secure the title.

This year, it’s going to be another crazy battle at the top. In a lot of ways, this is my favorite district. Razor-thin margins between teams, a lot of competitive drama between the schools that extends beyond the wrestling mat, and some unbelievably gifted athletes and hard-working wrestlers can be found here.

Yulee has a high degree of talent among its returners, but graduation losses may hurt the Hornets unless they find a consistent lineup early this season. West Nassau and Westside should push hard for top-three spots as well. I’ve said this a couple of times: if Raines ever fields a full team, with the same level of athleticism as it has now, the Vikings would run away and hide with this title. They will pose threats in IBT formats with the quality they have.

Projected finish: 1. Yulee. 2. West Nassau. 3. Westside. 4. Raines. 5. Baker County. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Fernandina Beach. 8. Paxon. 9. Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson Tigers
Coach: Joe Warren, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 7-15 in duals. 12th at Gateway Conference, 8th at 1A-District 3 meet, 26th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Tracy Russell (district 3rd, 22-5 at 160 in 13-14).
Juniors: Travaris Shanks (11-15 at 285 in 13-14), Andrew Sheffield (5-13 at 145 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Already plagued with numbers issues a year ago, Jackson was further hampered by two key transfers out. Russell has a tremendous amount of raw ability.

Baker County Wildcats
Coach: Hank Fisher, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 13-18 in duals. 5th at Optimist Invitational, 6th at 1A-District 3 meet, 16th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-69th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Simon Brown (10-7 at 152 in 13-14), Brandon Harvey (district champ, region 3rd, 38-8 at 132 in 13-14), Logan Kish (district 4th, 20-11 at 138 in 13-14), Sean Mulkey (21-13 at 182 in 13-14), Jonathan Ruise (19-7 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Collyn Green (21-9 at 285 in 13-14), Caleb Griffin (5-17 at 160 in 13-14), Anthony Johnson (6-15 at 170 in 13-14), Shawn Martin (9-19 at 120 in 13-14), Sydney Williams (district 4th, 11-11 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Fisher came in under trying circumstances, but he’s actually got quite a bit to work with. Don’t be surprised if BCHS cracks the top half of the district.

Bishop Snyder Cardinals
Coach: Jeremy Mosley, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 28-7 in duals. 7th at Westside Kiwanis, 5th at GCS Rotary, 1A-District 3 champ, 7th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-16th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Nathaniel Cleland (district runnerup, 36-15 at 170 in 13-14), Nicholas Cleland (district champ, 37-11 at 220 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Brenden Bizier (21-19 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Graduation and the shift in schedule did a number on the Cardinals’ off-season. Mosley knows how to win, though, and he’ll find a way to continue Bishop Snyder’s progress.

Fernandina Beach Pirates
Interim coach: Jay Helm, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 9-10 in duals. 3rd at Rob Bierman Invite, 19th at GCS Rotary, 3rd at 1A-District 3 meet, 6th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-52nd at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jesse Henn (4-11 at 152 in 13-14), Jesse Lovitt (6-9 at 145 in 13-14), Matthew Schuyler (8-9 at 160 in 13-14), Jade Welsh (district 4th, 18-18 at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Rafael Charriez (district 3rd, 12-19 at 106 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Joseph Helm (district runnerup, 21-8 at 120 in 13-14), Zachary Watson (district 3rd, 11-6 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A lot of graduation losses to overcome for the Pirates, and that may be tough to overcome at the start. Returners have to start jelling fast in Fernandina.

Paxon Golden Eagles
Coach: Not known at press time.
2013-14: 6-18 in duals. 12th at Optimist Invitational, 9th at Gateway Conference, 9th at 1A-District 3 meet, 29th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Osiris Mancera (7-13 at 126 in 13-14), Anthony Dukes (district 3rd, 23-11 at 160 in 13-14), Torry Williams (15-7 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Michael Hutchinson (7-11 at 138 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Adam Foster (9-12 at 113 in 13-14), Darius Veals (9-13 at 132 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Whoever takes over for the Golden Eagles will have hard-working kids and two solid wrestlers in Dukes and Williams. Both could make it to region this year.

Raines Vikings
Coach: Brian Gilbert, 7th year in position.
2013-14: 4-7 in duals. 59th at Lakeland Invite, 28th at GCS Rotary, T-10th at Billy Saylor Invite, 13th at Gateway, 7th at 1A-District 3 meet, 19th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-59th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jermaine Oliver (district runnerup, region runnerup, 27-7 at 182 in 13-14).
Juniors: Tyrann Baxter (district 4th, 13-8 at 170 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Joseph Haynes (district champ, 11-3 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Team might struggle, still, in dual meets, but Oliver and transfer Demonta Bell are among the most fun kids to watch anywhere in the area. Gilbert also picked up another Jackson transfer in Daisan Biffle, and that should help the Vikings in the lowers.

West Nassau Warriors
Coach: Frederick Avery, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 10-13 in duals. 7th at Optimist Invitational, 4th at 1A-District 3 meet, 18th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-55th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Michael Dudzinski (district champ, region runnerup, 37-4 at 160 in 13-14), John Forehand (district 4th, 15-9 at 145 in 13-14), Jackson Moyle (district 4th, 22-8 at 13-14), Bradley Sikes (district 4th, 18-10 at 220 in 13-14), TJ Thompson (district 4th, 20-10 at 120 in 13-14).
Juniors: Brandon Bostick (district runnerup, 14-8 at 113 in 13-14), Trevor Higginbotham (7-8 at 152 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Zach Morgan (5-14 at 182 in 13-14), Seth Petty (7-11 at 195 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Avery’s crew is going to push Yulee hard for the Nassau County title, and for the district title as well. Dudzinski was probably the strongest area wrestler — certainly strongest among area 1A kids — not to medal at state last year; you will search long and wide to find someone to outwork him.

Westside Wolverines
Coach: Christopher McNealy, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 8-11 in duals. 5th at Gateway Conference, 5th at 1A-District 3 meet, 23rd at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Malik Brown (13-10 at 195 in 13-14), Dushaun Manning (6-10 at 145 in 13-14), Brian Thomas (district 3rd, 19-9 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Dominique Williams (district 4th, 15-15 at 160 in 13-14).
Sophomores: George Dale (district 4th, 21-12 at 126 in 13-14), Delmontae Davis (district 4th, 14-12 at 113 in 13-14), Aniko Patterson (district 3rd, 15-10 at 120 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: McNealy has changed the culture at Westside as it begins its first year under a new school name. There were some big losses, but it’s the younger kids that show so much promise for what the program could become.

Yulee Hornets
Coach: Brandon Crowder, 7th year in position.
2013-14: Duals record unknown. 8th at Columbia Invite, 15th at Westside Kiwanis, 2nd at 1A-District 3 meet, 15th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-69th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Daniel Beverly (district runnerup, 25-12 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: RJ Adams (district champ, 19-9 at 170 in 13-14).
Sophomores: John Parker (district champ, 20-13 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A lot of part-time starters showed flashes of brilliance for the Hornets last year, and for them to finish where I think they will, those kids will have to stay in the lineup all season. Some talented young kids that have worked all summer will have to keep showing that talent now that the season has begun.

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1A-District 5 preview capsule

1A-District 5
Team synopsis: A year ago, Clay romped to an 83.5-point blowout win in largely unfamiliar territory covering west central Florida to keep its district title streak intact. I see that being even easier to repeat for the Blue Devils, as its closest competitor, Crystal River, lost most of its top wrestlers to graduation.

In this field, Clay will be exceptionally difficult to slow down, let alone stop. They’ll have another tough road to hoe at regions, having to go through Lake Highland Prep once again, but again the region tournament will be at home. Clay doesn’t rebuild its program, even in the face of graduation losses that cost the Blue Devils a pair of state medalists. It reloads its program.

Numbers will make it difficult for new area teams to crack the top half of the district, but if any team might do it, it could be Palatka, which has some solid nucleus returning.

Projected finish: 1. Clay. 2. Crystal River. 3. Dunnellon. 4. Villages. 5. North Marion. 6. Palatka. 7. Trinity Catholic. 8. Interlachen. 9. Eastside.

Clay Blue Devils
Coach: Jim Reape, 21st year in current position.
2013-14: 23-2 in dual meets. 2nd at Border Wars, T-3rd at Tiger Holiday Classic (North Carolina), 1st at GCS Rotary, T-1st at Billy Saylor Invitational. District 1A-5 champ, 2nd at Region 1A-2 meet, 4th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Adam Breindel (district champ, region champ, state champ; 53-3 at 145 in 13-14), Trevor Larson (district runnerup, region 3rd, 31-15 at 170 in 13-14), Tristain Sichmeller (district champ, 28-8 at 182 in 13-14), Jon Whiting (district 3rd, 33-23 at 220 in 13-14).
Juniors: Dale Browning (district champ, region 3rd, 5th at state; 34-8 at 113 in 13-14), Roland Samec (district champ, region 3rd, 22-11 at 285 in 13-14), Julian Summa (district runnerup, 34-16 at 126 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Kaleb Collins (district 3rd, 34-20 at 195 in 13-14), Cody Taylor (25-7 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Just a complete team, from top to bottom, and I suspect the Blue Devils will be just as good, if not even better, in February of 2015 as they were in February of this year. With Breindel as a defending state champ, and loads of experience on the biggest stages, Clay doesn’t back down from anybody, in any environment.

Eastside Rams
Coach: Steven DiLisio, 2nd year in current position.
2013-14: 9th at District 1A-5 meet, 30th at 1A-Region 2 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches, those listed here based on post-season information):
Seniors: Jacquez White (113).
Juniors: Robert Taylor (138), Kenneth Vance (district 4th at 220).
NEFLM’s take: Numbers were a problem at the start of last year for the Rams, and became a bigger one by season’s end. Just building the program will be Eastside’s first task.

Interlachen Rams
Coach: Craig Borgus, 4th year in current position.
2013-14: 8th at District 1A-5 meet, 21st at 1A-Region 2 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Tristan Cannon (14-17 at 160 in 13-14), Dallas Vaughn (district runnerup, 32-7 at 285 in 13-14).
Juniors: Logan Hastings (2-10 at 170 in 13-14), Lance Hastings (13-18 at 182 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Rams couldn’t compete in duals environment last year, but often won most of the matches wrestled within those duals. Vaughn will be one of area’s stronger heavies and will lead Interlachen this year.

Palatka Panthers
Coach: John White.
2013-14: 7th at District 1A-5 meet, 27th at 1A-Region 2 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches, those listed here are based on post-season information only):
Seniors: Evan Gastelum (9-17 at 152 in 13-14), Noah Parker (182, no record available), Lutrell Smith (district 4th, 17-14 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Eron Carter (district 4th at 195, no record available), Curtis Lowe (district 3rd, 15-16 at 113 in 13-14), Shade Ward (district 3rd at 120, no record available).
NEFLM’s take: A year’s worth of additional experience will be just what these Panthers needed, as the youth Palatka showed in Jacksonville-area appearances evolves into more maturity and mental toughness. With a full team, there’s enough in the room that Palatka could be a threat to make the top 4 at districts.

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2A-District 4 preview capsule

2A-District 4
Team synopsis: Last year at Creekside, the host Knights and Matanzas battled to a virtual standstill, tying for the district crown. This year, the battle shifts closer to the coast, with the Pirates hosting, Expect another tussle, with nine returning district champions between the two teams.

While St. Augustine should be, with all of its returners in play for 2014-15, the logical choice for the third spot, Ponte Vedra has some stars, as does Nease (the Panthers also had an impressive amount of numbers in 2013-14), and don’t count out a Chad Parker-coached team at Bartram Trail, particularly in a school year when the Bears did not make the playoffs in football.

Projected finish: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. St. Augustine. 4. Nease. 5. Bartram Trail. 6. Ponte Vedra.

Bartram Trail Bears
Coach: Chad Parker, 1st year.
2013-14: 3-11 in duals. 8th at St Johns River Conference, 14th at Westside Kiwanis, 24th at GCS Rotary, 27th at Palm Coast Rotary, 4th at 2A-District 4 meet, 19th at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Hayden Good (district 3rd, 15-9 at 195 in 13-14), Andy Plish (7-18 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Kyle Bachman (18-11 at 113 in 13-14), Charlie Miller (district 3rd, 14-15 at 138 in 14-15), John Wilson (district runnerup, 8-12 at 160 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A Parker-coached team will get legit — fast — and an early football exit could be an asset for the Bears’ wrestling fortunes. This program will be a hard-charger, and soon.

Creekside Knights
Coach: Richard Marabell, 7th year.
2013-14: 17-4 in duals. 4th at Westside Kiwanis, 6th at GCS Rotary, 21st at Palm Coast Rotary, T-1st at 2A-District 4 meet, 5th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-51st at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Cole Eubanks (district champ, region 4th, 33-13 at 285 in 13-14), Jared Langdo (district champ, region 4th, 19-8 at 145 in 13-14), Austin Wynn (district champ, region champ, 32-9 at 106 in 13-14), John Zhang (4-11 at 126 in 13-14).
Juniors: Gus Fischer (district champ, 19-14 at 195 in 13-14), Willy Lulias (8-7 at 170 in 13-14), Steven Stanton (7-16 at 152 in 13-14), David Tyer (district champ, 14-6 at 126 in 13-14).
Sophomores: David Cline (8-9 at 160 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Strong senior class, with three returning state qualifiers, will keep Knights very much in the fray for a top-10 berth again this year. But combination of graduation and other losses will be tricky to overcome at first.

Matanzas Pirates
Coach: John White, 10th year.
2013-14: 16-4 in duals. T-1st at 2A-District 4 meet, 12th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-39th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Troy Magnuson (district champ, 28-13 at 138 in 13-14), Nathan Pooler (district 4th, 9-10 at 145 in 13-14), Chad Samples (district champ, 28-18 at 120 in 13-14), Gregorio Torres (district runnerup, 9-12 at 220 in 13-14), Cody Womack (district 3rd, 10-8 at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Jordin Castanheira (district runnerup, region 4th, 19-18 at 182 in 13-14), Maverick Dennis (district runnerup, 18-12 at 195 in 13-14), Carter Goodman (district champ, 20-15 at 113 in 13-14), Tristan Krause (23-12 at 132 in 13-14), Eddy Leon de la Cruz (district 4th, 13-13 at 152 in 13-14), Rocky Samples (district runnerup, 27-16 at 106 in 13-14).
Sophomore: Kwentel Moultrie (12-5 at 160 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Addition of highly-ranked Andrew Klopman (Clay transfer) only helps an already-strong side. Just stacked in the lower weights, this team is, and there’s a few in the uppers that can bring it, too.

Nease Panthers
Coach: Craig Muckle, 1st year.
2013-14: 13-15 in duals. 6th at St Johns River Conference, 34th at GCS Rotary, 5th at 2A-Region 4 meet, 18th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-59th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jared Heinrich (district runnerup, 18-5 at 120 in 13-14), Austin Scott (district 3rd, 21-11 at 126 in 13-14), Henry Velasquez (district 4th, 4-6 at 138 in 13-14).
Juniors: Christopher Anderson (15-16 at 182 in 13-14), Tristen Lucessi (district 3rd, 29-13 at 113 in 13-14)
Sophomores: Dalton Koike (district 4th, 14-10 at 132 in 13-14), Aaron Mago (district 4th, 10-11 at 106 in 13-14), Johnny Perez (11-7 at 138 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: The thing that impressed me about the Panthers last year was how. many. kids. they had out. If the numbers stay high, this will be a team on the move in due course.

Ponte Vedra Sharks
Coach: Mike Ostlund, 5th year.
2013-14: Duals record unknown. 8th at Optimist Invitational, 16th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 24th at GCS Rotary, 6th at 2A-District 4 meet, 25th at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Michael Swain (district 4th, 19-16 at 160 in 13-14).
Juniors: Anthony Giordano (19-16 at 113 in 13-14), Zachary Gregory (district 3rd, 15-17 at 145 in 13-14).
Sophomores: John Fox (9-22 at 106 in 13-14), Marshall Frye (7-13 at 132 in 13-14), Jairo Hernandez (district 4th, 3-12 at 120 in 13-14), Jackson McIntyre (7-13 at 138 in 13-14), Taylor Montroy (district 4th, 6-15 at 285 in 13-14), James Stanton (8-13 at 120 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: With schedule change for the season, Sharks lost some top talent, and this could make things difficult this year. Lots of sophomores in this year’s group will have to carry the load.

St. Augustine Yellow Jackets
Coach: Josean Gonzalez, 4th year.
2013-14: 14-8 in duals. 7th at St Johns River Conference, 31st at GCS Rotary, 3rd at 2A-District 4 meet, 15th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-51st at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Hunter Collis (11-9 at 182 in 13-14), Dayton Gilbert (district champ, 24-12 at 132 in 13-14), Conor Griffin (district 3rd, 11-13 at 152 in 13-14), Justin Gross (district runnerup, 18-10 at 145 in 13-14), Xavier Jones (district 4th, 10-15 at 182 in 13-14).
Juniors: Ralph Hicks (district 3rd, 4-18 at 113 in 13-14), Courtney Johnson (district 4th, 10-9 at 195 in 13-14), Stacy Murray (district 3rd, 14-13 at 160 in 13-14), Kristopher Smith (district 3rd, 17-13 at 106 in 13-14), Dustin Vara (district runnerup, 17-6 at 113 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Malik Hicks (2-15 at 126 in 13-14), Nicholas Thomson (3-16 at 126 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Yellow Jackets look like a team — if everybody stays in the lineup and healthy — that won’t be on the outside looking in at the rankings list for long. Lots of kids with region experience returning will really help, and they’re going to be tough outs.

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2A-District 3 preview capsule

2A-District 3
Team synopsis: A year, this district was the Orange Park show, as Raider after Raider, seemingly, racked up individual titles to push Orange Park to an astounding 100-point victory.

While I’m tipping the Raiders to repeat in 2015, I don’t expect it will be as easy even though Orange Park has a number of returners with a good amount of varsity experience. OP had a tremendous senior class leave last year, a senior class that had me thinking about ranking them #1 in the area overall before injuries and other factors got in the way of that senior class’s expectations.

Still, though, OP has four returning district champions, just one fewer than the rest of the district combined. But make no mistake. Expect Middleburg to be better, expect Oakleaf to be better (particularly once it starts wrestling) and expect Ed White to be better. If the Commanders remain injury-free, they could be a dark horse pick in the Gateway this year.

Projected finish: 1. Orange Park. 2. Middleburg. 3. Oakleaf. 4. Ed White. 5. Ridgeview. 6. Terry Parker. 7. Englewood. 8. Stanton. 9. Robert E. Lee.

Ed White Commanders
Coach: Jaylen Lee, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 10-5 in duals. 1st at Optimist Invitational, 29th at GCS Rotary, 6th at Gateway, 5th at 2A-District 3 meet, 16th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-62nd at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Andrew Holdman (11-9 at 170 in 13-14), Devonta Malcolm (18-8 at 145 in 13-14)
Juniors: Roderick Evans (district runnerup, 25-6 at 106 in 13-14), Kevin Johns (8-8 at 113 in 13-14), Kelton Johnson (district 3rd, region runnerup, 24-6 at 285 in 13-14), Sergio Jordan (district runnerup, 23-11 at 160 in 13-14), Juwan Lee (district 4th, 21-9 at 132 in 13-14), Darien Tucker (district 4th, 25-8 at 138 in 13-14), Avery Wilds (district 3rd, 20-9 at 220 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Trevor Hasan (1-15 at 152 in 13-14), Juliette Medina (2-22 at 182 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A year from now, this team could threaten to win the Gateway. They’re going to be tough enough there right now, if everyone stays healthy.

Englewood Rams
Coach: Jacob Scott.
2013-14: 11-10 in duals. 9th at Optimist Invitational, 10th at Gatgeway, 7th at 2A-District 3 meet, 22nd at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Kevin Herrera (district runnerup, 23-8 at 138 in 13-14), Xavier Nieves (district runnerup, 20-8 at 195 in 13-14).
Juniors: Johnathan Galeas (14-14 at 120 in 13-14), Joseph Garcia (district 4th, 11-9 at 170 in 13-14), Justin Griffis (district 4th, 12-14 at 160 in 13-14), Toni McDonald (8-12 at 106 in 13-14)
Sophomores: Archie Brown (district 4th, 19-12 at 113 in 13-14), Tanner Kern (11-11 at 126 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: I expect this program to take the same leaps its football counterpart did this year. Herrera and Brown are both fun to watch.

Middleburg Broncos
Coach: Rick Wetherill, 4th year in position.
2013-14: Duals record unknown. 4th at St Johns River Conference, 10th at Westside Kiwanis, T-25th at GCS Rotary, 2nd at 2A-District 3 meet, 14th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-51st at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Tyler Langford (8-15 at 132 in 13-14), Zach McClinton (2-year starter for Broncos from 2011-13), Travis Neubeck (district champ, region champ, 31-8 at 138 at 13-14), Tristan Tollison (district 4th, record unknown at 126 in 13-14).
Juniors: Ammon Meeks (13-22 at 220 in 13-14), Dylan Rossetti (district champ, 35-12 at 106 in 13-14), Jonathan Shoen (district champ, 23-5 at 182 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Cody Eastwood (9-26 at 160 in 13-14), Keath Sawdo (district 3rd, 30-12 at 145 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Although not all of the expected returners came back, some of the stars that are back are solid enough for the Broncos to challenge hard for the district title. McClinton’s return after a year away is welcome.

Oakleaf Knights
Coach: Dana Arthur, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 9-16 in dual meets. 17th at Capital City Classic, 18th at GCS Rotary, unknown finish at Seabreeze Invite, 3rd at 2A-District 3 meet, 10th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-34th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Andre Carter (district runnerup, 27-13 at 152 in 13-14), Chris Griffin (district runnerup, region 4th, 13-6 at 113 in 13-14), Tristen Roderick (district 3rd, region 4th, 27-16 at 138 in 13-14).
Juniors: Josh Detrick (district 3rd, 20-14 at 170 in 13-14), Sean Tairovski-Romeu (3-19 at 182 in 13-14), Riggs Wolf (7-9 at 126 in 13-14)
Sophomores: Cole Benson (9-8 at 145 in 13-14), Luke Karl (district 3rd, 25-14 at 160 in 13-14), Shawn Lanier (district 3rd, region 4th, 16-12 at 120 in 13-14), Luke Simons (12-7 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Will get off to a late start, but Knights could sneak up on some people, as not a lot of teams return 3 state qualifiers and Oakleaf does. Transfers Jason Davis (Fleming) and Ashley Williams (Sandalwood) give the Knights some more oomph in the uppers, which they will welcome at season end.

Orange Park Raiders
Coach: Patrick Crawford, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 24-10 in duals. 2nd at St Johns River Conference, 18th at Palm Coast Rotary, 2A-District 1 champ, 2nd at 2A-Region 1 meet, 12th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Brandon Rice (district 3rd, 11-14 at 106 in 13-14), Kirtis Davis (district 3rd, 10-15 at 132 in 13-14), Tyrese Germain (district champ, region runnerup, 18-10 at 126 in 13-14), Chasen Irvine (district champ, region 4th, 29-18 at 195 in 13-14), Demetruis Phillips (17-13 at 145 in 13-14), Nick Stead (15-7 at 126 in 13-14), SKyler Taylor (district champ, 35-13 at 160 in 13-14), Ricky Torres (8-17 at 152 in 13-14), Fuhteh Tsai (district runnerup, 14-27 at 126 in 13-14).
Juniors: Jordan Harbin (15-22 at 138 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Marcus Reid (district champ, region champ, 36-5 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: The graduation losses of the kind OP sustained after last season would crush a lot of teams. The Raiders are still very solid, though, as last year’s juniors learned a great deal that should help them as seniors this year.

Ridgeview Panthers
Coach: Zeth Nolda, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 11-8 in duals. 2nd at Optimist Invitational, 9th at Westside Kiwanis, 17th at GCS Rotary, 7th at Billy Saylor Invitational, 4th at 2A-District 3 meet, 13th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-26th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Juniors: Trevor Belden (district champ, 26-9 at 126 in 13-14), Justin Trinh (14-9 at 120 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: This could be a rebuilding year for the Panthers, who were hit by both graduation and other losses at the start of this season. Ridgeview always found a way to compete last season.

Robert E. Lee Generals
Coach: Ricky Hicks, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 1-12 in duals. 36th at GCS Rotary, 14th at Gateway, 9th at 2A-District 3 meet, T-28th at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Ivory Durham (district 4th, 10-10 at 106 in 13-14).
Juniors: Thomas Baker (0-29 at 152 in 13-14), Tony Belle (district runnerup, 29-8 at 145 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Demetris Harris (district 4th, 11-21 at 285 in 13-14), David Worrell-Johnson (6-24 at 160 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Numbers could continue to be a problem for the Generals. Belle is one of Duval’s best juniors, at any weight.

Stanton Blue Devils
Coach: Emarlos Leroy, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 9-20 in duals. 8th at Rob Bierman Invite, 11th at Gateway, 8th at 2A-District 3 meet, T-23rd at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jacob Cowell (12-23 at 132 in 13-14), Sothea Nou (19-9 at 160 in 13-14), Nicholas Stiles (district champ, 36-3 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Justin Cowell (14-19 at 120 in 13-14)
Sophomores: Stephen Hlawnchhing (20-18 at 126 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Hopefully Stiles will have recovered from injuries sustained at districts a year ago. Stanton, too, struggled with numbers issues all of last year.

Terry Parker Braves
Coach: John Dunn.
2013-14: Duals record unknown. 6th at Optimist Invitational, 8th at Gateway, 6th at 2A-District 3 meet, 21st at 2A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches, records unknown):
Seniors: Jessica Gardepe (132), Casey Nydoske (160), Kerry Hardine (district runnerup at 220).
Juniors: Samary Duncombe (152), Chris Walker (106)
Sophomores: Dalton Deckerhoff (district 4th at 120), Matthew Walls (220).
NEFLM’s take: The Braves just battled in every environment; from a grit perspective, they’re second to none. Parker should field a full team with more experience under its belt this season.

Posted in Uncategorized

2A-District 2 preview capsule

2A-District 2
Team synopsis: Last year, Columbia pushed Lincoln to the brink — to be fair, with five teams, sometimes all it took was just fielding a full lineup — but while Lincoln sustained some graduation losses, and heavy ones at that, the Tigers really did not.

And that could be the difference. A Columbia team, particularly one that can fill every weight, will be a tough team to overcome.

Gainesville, too, has some heavy graduation losses to overcome, but shouldn’t have too many problems at least duplicating the same district finish as a year ago, even if the success might be more of an individual nature. There is a solid tradition there.

Projected finish: 1. Columbia. 2. Lincoln. 3. Gainesville. 4. Chiles. 5. Leon.

Columbia Tigers
Coach: Kevin Warner, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 1-0 in dual meets. 7th at Border Wars, 11th at Ocala Forest Invitational, 1st at Columbia Tiger Invitational, 5th at Capital City Classic, 22nd at Bill Scott Memorial, 12th at GCS Rotary, 7th at Billy Saylor Invitational, 20th at Tony Ippolito Invitational, 2nd at 2A-District 2 meet, 7th at 2A-Region 1 meet, T-34th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Lucus Bradley (district champ, 26-13 at 195 in 13-14), Jordan Nash (district runnerup, 9-10 at 170 in 2013-14), Dustin Regar (district runnerup, region runnerup, 29-17 at 138 in 13-14), Kaleb Warner (district champ, region champ, 5th at state, 40-5 at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Austin Chapman (district 3rd, 18-11 at 152 in 13-14), Marcus Zeighler (district runnerup, 10-5 at 285 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Josh Lynch (district runnerup, 12-22 at 120 in 13-14), Christian Thompson (district runnerup, 4-24 at 182 in 13-14), Brandon Wine (district 4th, 6-18 at 126 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Tigers took a hit with kids not returning that would have provided a boost. Still, though, I think this is the team to beat in 2A-2, and there is some very good leadership in this lineup.

Gainesville Hurricanes
Coach: John Davis.
2013-14: 3rd at 2A-District 2 meet, 4th at 2A-Region 1 meet, 14th at 2A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Conner Henry (unknown record at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Traevon O’Neal (district runnerup, region 3rd, 42-11 at 106 in 13-14), Tahj Brennen (district runnerup, region 3rd, 38-11 at 113 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Aaron Bower (district 4th, 2-22 at 138 in 13-14), Elijah Keselowsky (district 4th, 2-21 at 120 in 13-14)
NEFLM’s take: Hurricanes took a hit from graduation this year, with several stars leaving. O’Neal and Brennen is a nice lower-weight duo, and their state experiences of a year ago could prepare them both to make medal runs this year.

Posted in Uncategorized
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